Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 28, 2023

How to master the art of being an artsy person

By NIKITA SHTARKMAN | March 7, 2019

Hey you. Yes you, reading this article. Are you average? Are you dull? Do you get asked to take pictures but never get to be in them? Do people generally ignore you? 

There are several ways to get out of this predicament. Sure, you could try to become genuinely interesting or work doggedly for years to develop a talent, but how much effort would that be? How about instead you concentrate your efforts on becoming artsy. With the help of this article, you can evolve from that boring layperson who gets disregarded and disrespected by just about everyone, to the wild, free, artsy soul who’s the envy of the town.

Let’s start with the style. Throw out all your well-fitting clothes. Anything that looks decent is going in the garbage. 

Go to the rattiest, hole-in-the-wall thrift shop you can find (places that only take cash), and buy as many bad clothes as you can. Loose corduroy pants? Cop. A denim jacket with brown paint splattered over it? Immediate purchase. Jeans so skinny that they make your legs look like Play-Doh stuffed in a tube? Priceless. If you can tear through any of the clothes you buy — immediately do that. 

Expose as much skin as you can through weird holes in the fabric. Now that your clothes are on point, you need a tattoo. It does not matter what your tattoo is. 

All that matters is that the tattoo must be inherently incomprehensible. If anyone asks, have a 30-minute monologue prepared about the meaning of the symbol. This monologue should do absolutely nothing to clarify the meaning of the tattoo. 

With just those two steps, you have gone from a dull everyman, to a uniquely dressed, mysterious enigma.

Onto lifestyle changes. 

First some important questions: Do you have any demons? Are you damaged? If you answered yes to either of those questions — that’s fantastic! You’re ahead of the game. Push these major personal flaws and glaring issues to the forefront of your personality. Everyone should immediately know that you aren’t any normal old human being — you’re a hurt, crippled, tortured artist.

If you can’t find any significant problems in your life, then your number one priority is create some. The quickest fix for this is to start smoking cigarettes. Now wait a second. Don’t start sucking down a pack a day. 

Remember, you are an artsy smoker. You only smoke when it looks aesthetically cool. Is it raining outside? Wander out there with a smoke at your side. Is the sun setting? Pull out your handy pack. Have you just had mediocre sex? Cap the night with an indoor cigarette. Watch protagonists in foreign black-and-white films for inspiration.

Besides smoking, you want to cultivate a deep enthusiasm for hard drugs. You don’t even have to do a lot of drugs, you just have to seem like you do a lot of drugs. Mumble about wanting “Insert-Drug-Name-Here” at various times throughout the day. (e.g “Dude this class is so boring, I could use a Xan now.”) 

Another vital step is to create a variety of Spotify playlists. Title them with meaningless lowercase-lettered titles like “mango sunday” or “peach cobbler midnights” or “rainy supper windowpane.” 

These playlists must consist of faux-indie music, soft hip hop and as much shitty lo-fi as you can handle. Perfect artists for this vibe are Rex Orange County, Mac DeMarco and Tyler the Creator. 

Make sure to become militant about this kind of music. At any provocation, be ready to berate people with recommendations. Always push artists who are very successful and popular but aren’t big enough to be on the top 40. Constantly refer to them as indie or alternative — no matter how mainstream they are. Complain about how no one listens to real music anymore. Recommend a variety of NPR Tiny Desk concerts. (“Have you heard the T-Pain one?”)

You should have a sketchbook on you — at all times. I recommend a small Moleskine notebook. Find places where the maximum number of passersby can see you, then sit and doodle. Make sure to occasionally furrow your brow. Your artsiness will immediately spike. If you, by pure chance, happen to get halfway decent at drawing, you can use this to your advantage. When near people, make sure to leave your sketchbook haphazardly open. Inevitably, someone near you will comment on (and potentially even compliment) the drawings. Act coy and embarrassed but cherish the attention. Isn’t that the goal of all of this? 

Did you listen in English class? I hope you did, because besides drawing, writing poetry is absolutely essential to the artsy lifestyle. Fill pages in your notebooks with long, nearly meaningless chains of words. Keep the ideas in your poems universal. Attack the onset of technology, condemn modern times or just write incoherently about lofty ideas like the soul, death or love. Take nice pictures of these (almost certainly shitty) poems and prop them up all over your instagram.

Now that you’ve become artsy, it’s time to share your artsy self. First, prune all of your social media. Delete any pictures in which you look relatively decent. Your Instagram must be a carefully balanced collection of colorful kitschy random images and selfies in which you make yourself look absolutely horrid. Your descriptions must be edgy and faux-thought provoking. 

If you followed the above rule set, you should have become truly and completely artsy. Congratulations! How does it feel? Are you happy? Are you still craving attention? (Aren’t we all?) 

If you answered yes, then don’t worry, I have the antidote. Dye your hair. Nothing will draw the interest of those around you like having a completely new hair color. Keep in mind, this isn’t a permanent solution. The cold press of existential dread and social exclusion will inevitably start to creep up soon enough. Once that happens, I recommend immediately re-dyeing your hair another color. Rinse and repeat to stave away that nihilistic pain.

If you’ve done everything here and you still feel meaningless, valueless and unimportant, then fret not. There’s two other options which are always available and are guaranteed to set you apart from the crowd: amateur pornography and hard crime.

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