Damien Hirst and the Rise of Artrepreneurs

September 8th, 2008 was a pleasant Indian summer cloudy day in London. Who could predict a boy from Bristol would change the art world this day? Damien Hirst used technology, the implications of technology, a lion’s courage and wicked smarts to blow the art world to bits. Is the art world an archetype for every other business? Yes!


Hirst held an unusual auction – unique because the lion share of profits went to a living artist. Damien Hirst created the leverage he used to earn $100M. Dealers, collectors, and galleries rushed to shore up and protect their existing Hirst art investments.

Let’s say you were lucky enough to purchase The Physical Impossibility of Death In The Mind of Someone Living.. The shark floating in a vat of leaky* formaldehyde and you paid $12,000,000 (US). As an “art investor,” you can’t afford your Hirst “sculpture” to only to be worth four million. As Hirst goes so goes your money.

Blowing up RETAIL Too?

Hirst knows less about retail than blowing up the art world’s indentured servitude. Tiffany, Bergdorf, Macy’s, Amazon, and the Chinese online retailer JD.com are safe for the moment. Galleries? Museums? Not so much.

Hirst named his artist retail revolution “Other Criteria”. Here is Hirst’s Other Criteria’s mission statement.

“Other Criteria Mission

What we set out to do was to make modern art approachable and attractive. Other Criteria works together with artists to make things they want to create, and people want to buy. It’s as simple as walking into one of the shops or clicking through the website, and buying something there and then. It shouldn’t intimidate anyone.

In working with an artist, our focus is to create something that is unique, exciting and of lasting quality. To achieve this, we match the best creative ideas to the best producers. Other Criteria has worked hard to develop relationships with expert artisans, printers, and fabricators all over the world.”
– Damien Hirst

Now we don’t want to be in the museum store business. We took a spin through our favorite museum stores online yesterday and much of the magic has gone out of their balloons. Once a source of retailing innovation, creativity, and inspiration today’s museum retailing is sad, uninspired and boring.

Hirst will cut out museum stores as efficiently as his auction removed dealers and collectors. And don’t think these trends end with Damien Hirst.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

The web doesn’t love middlemen. The web is naturally social. As e-commerce becomes easier and easier a big part of “social” will be selling things to one another. Damien Hirst doesn’t sweat “channel conflict”. He knows the answer – putting himself in the driver’s seat for any and all of his products.

Tomorrow’s world will be dominated by makers and players. Makers like Hirst will find it easy to connect with partners, collectors and those interested in buying their paintings or t-shirts. Players will find novel ways to combine, merchandise and deliver value.

Think of your content like a game and you know where we are going. We launch Moon-Audio.com’s Headphones Game tomorrow. The idea is simple – ask for help and crowdsource content. Moon-Audio.com makes audio cables, cables that make even the best headphones in the world sound better.

Moon Audio also sells headphones. Finding new ways customers and partners can interact with the company is the game’s raison d’etre. We’ll be sure to share updates here to see if we can guse game mechanics to gamify content marketeing to win hearts, minds and loyalty onlline.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This post includes (C) images from DamienHirst.com. Hope he doesn’t sue us :). Marty