Philosophy Lessons that Andy Warhol Has Taught Me About Art and Life

Make artwork that will live on, don’t seek personal immortality!

The idea is not to live forever, it is to create something that will.

The concept of living forever is to me a philosophically repulsive idea. As artists our artwork, writing, photos, etc should seek immortality, not us

If you’re given an option, don’t choose sadness

Why do people spend their time being sad when they could be happy?

Making money in art isn’t bad, and doesn’t disqualify your artwork

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

No, by selling your artwork you’re not “selling out” and deligitimizing your artwork. It goes both ways: both selling your artwork and not selling your artwork is legitimate!

Like things!

Andy Warhol: I think everybody should like everybody. Gene Swenson: Is that what Pop Art is all about? Andy Warhol: Yes, it’s liking things.

Are you a liker, or a hater? I’d choose to be a liker!


What’s great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”

In America, at least most of our consumer goods are affordable by all the masses! With credit cards, and plans, everyone can afford an iPhone and a car. This is hugely liberating to me!

On being social

I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.

I think I have social disease too; and that’s okay!

Believe in your own artwork

An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he – for some reason – thinks it would be a good idea to give them.

Ask people what they love most to figure out what type of artwork to make

I’d asked around 10 or 15 people for suggestions. Finally one lady friend asked the right question, ‘Well, what do you love most?’ That’s how I started painting money.

You don’t need to make what other people like, but it’s a good way of sparking ideas.

Dream on

Everybody must have a fantasy.

Sometimes fantasies are good, if they keep you going, wondering, and dreaming of doing cool and epic stuff in life

Photos are eternal; people aren’t

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.

Pretty deep philosophy: people in photos don’t change, they live on forever in a photo. But the real people die.

What’s more real; the person in the photo or the person in real life?

So realize your power as a photographer to immortalize certain individuals!

Just say, “So what?” to solve 99% of your problems in life

Good mental trick to overcome angst and pain/suffering in life:

Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So what.” “My mother didn’t love me.” So what. “My husband won’t ball me. So what. “I’m a success but I’m still alone.” So what. I don’t know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget.”

Find excitement in what is traditionally seen as “boring”

You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.

That’s the beauty of street photography: find beauty in ordinary and mundane things!

Change things yourself!

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Like Gandhi said, “Be the change which you wish to see in the world”.

Don’t care what critics say

Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.

On human change

When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.

Don’t want stuff (too much)

As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it.

Anticipation and waiting is more exciting than getting it right away!

The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.

Anti instant gratification philosophy.

Always stay in a state of Flux

I never fall apart, because I never fall together.

Don’t ruin the land!

I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.

Never stop!

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

What’s a love affair?

I wonder if it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever.

Love affairs are only interesting because they’re fleeting.

Just make art

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.