I can’t get enough of this Idler interview with Damien Hirst. It’s completely bonkers. He’s completely bonkers. I have no idea how much of this is actually true (he made $200 million in two days right before the Lehman Brothers crash? OK, maybe, but still: cool story bro). But even if it’s fake it’s superb myth making. As usual.
First, on delegating work to his assistants:
DH: If I couldn’t delegate I wouldn’t make any work. I like the action of nature, how it creates things. If you get other people it’s a good way to get things happening. So if I want to paint a spot painting but I don’t know how I want it to look I can go to an assistant and tell them to make a spot painting. When they ask how you want it to look you can say: I don’t know, just do it. It gives you something to kick against or work against.
TH: Like being in a band.
DH: Not really, because you’re employing them. I look at bands and think it’s a nightmare. I can’t make my own mind up — imagine being in a group.
And then this on the normal everyday problem of slowly amassing an enormous support staff and their support staffs and their Uber accounts:
I love painting. You start by thinking you’ll get one assistant and before you know it you’ve got biographers, fire eaters, jugglers, fucking minstrels and lyre players all wandering around. They’re all saying they aren’t being paid enough and they all need assistants. Then one night you ask the lyre player to play for you and they say: “My lyre is all scratched up and I did ask for a lyre technician but you said not yet and if I had one I could come and play for you now.” So you’ve got to have a lyre technician and then you better get him an Uber account too.
Celebrity art stars, they’re just like us. I mean who doesn’t have a lyre technician on staff?