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Shortcuts: How to become a famous artist

By Jackie Dent for CNN
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Being a famous artists can't be that difficult, right? Right! Here are few tips to help you find your inner Van Gogh.

Painting, sculpture, design -- how do I chose? For the past 40 years, every five years or so, someone has declared: "Painting is not dead". The challenge is deciding what sort of paint to use. Watercolors -- "the middle-aged ladies' stuff" -- are the toughest medium to work with and the least sought-after, while acrylics are looked down upon. Best stick to oils -- they are more subtle and if you screw up, you can easily paint over what you've done.

But I can't even draw, let alone paint. No sweat. We are living in the post-modern age, where the idea is king. The artist-as-a-skilled-person concept is passe. Haven't you noticed the way mass media reports are constantly complaining that works that win international art prizes could have been done by a five-year-old? All you really need is to find a commentator on society who will preferably make ironic statements about pop culture icons. Please refer to Jeff Koons' sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles.

Perhaps I could learn how to do it ... should I go to art school? Definitely. It's a great place to begin your life of networking, as well as forming an artistic gang in which you can do crazy things. Try the Art Institute of Chicago in the U.S., Goldsmiths in the UK or the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. To really get out there, head to the Tasmanian School of Art in Australia.

I suppose it's all about who you know? Yes. Get in the face of Larry Gagosian "GoGo" in New York and Jay Jopling in London, two of the hottest contemporary art dealers in the world. Gagosian, who topped a list of the world's most 100 powerful art world figures in 2004, represents the like of Jeff Koons and his Michael Jackson and Bubbles work, and the estate of Andy Warhol.

Jopling, who started off selling fire extinguishers, is the father of the Young British Art movement and gave birth to the careers of Damien Hirst (stuffed shark in tanks) and Tracey Emin (tent embroidered with the names of chaps she slept with). If you can't reach GoGo or Jay, head to the Frieze Art Fair in London, which is now considered the world's biggest hang out for contemporary art dealers.

Should I cut off my ear, or at least suffer? Debatable. Some wealthy collectors like an artist who has been miserable and smelt of turpentine for the past 20 years. A "struggling" track record could include: early childhood poverty, "Flashdance"-like acceptance into art school, drinks, working part time as an art lecturer, getting into a group show, drinks, scoring a dealer, drinks, showing over 10 years with gradual shift in style each time, all the whilst clothes must be covered in paint and glasses must be black-rimmed.

How do I find a suitable role model? Art movies always seem a little awkward -- just watch Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh in the very dated film Lust for Life -- but they can provide useful visualization of the "artistic suffering" you should experience. Try Frida to learn about the troubled life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo or the 1952 version of Moulin Rouge for a portrait of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. I Shot Andy Warhol is also good to get a grip on Andy Warhol's hair and ... shooting

Where should I live to get noticed? London. New York, like, died in the mid-90s.

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Modern artists should aim to make ironic statements about society

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