When I Paint My Masterpiece Everything’s Gonna Be Different

Do what you love and the money will follow.
Many have heard these sweet Campbellian whispers, but the concept doesn’t work for all. There are too many variables and money doesn’t grow on trees, it has to be earned through ingenuity and consistent, often difficult work.
Friend of AdPulp, Tom Asacker, gives us a tangible example from the art world of how fortunes differ.

Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso were two of the most influential artists of modern times; their paintings are now among the world’s most popular and expensive works of art. Yet van Gogh died penniless, while Picasso’s estate was valued at more than $750 million at the time of his death. According to Professor Gregory Berns in his book “Iconoclast, this disparity was due to Picasso’s superior networking skills. He knew how to connect with⎯and add social value to the lives of⎯influential people, who in turn helped enhance his name, reputation and bank account.
Both Picasso and van Gogh were extremely passionate about their work; they loved what they did. But Picasso was a marketer and van Gogh was not. Picasso knew how to make others happy; van Gogh was inwardly focused and struggled with relationships. If you want people to seek you out and boost your brand, like Picasso in his time, remember that success in the marketplace for products, services, entertainment, ideas and art is about adding value to other people’s lives. Value which appeals to two primary emotions; people’s desire for happiness and their desire to avoid unhappiness.

With this in mind, it may be time to alter the maxim above to “do what other people love and the money will follow.”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Tom,
    that’s just way to easy, either love or money? what about belief/ it is sunday.
    Now could you now compare Vincent to Jesus, or if you don’t believe in Jesus, at least the Jesus story and how that worked out in fame and fortune for the both of them. Both befriended a prostitute. Were the results the same or different for each of them and why?
    BTW, what results came of all Picasso’s women? Did he leave them happy and trusted with all that wealth he gathered and could not take to the grave?
    I think Genevieve Laporte became a marketeer. But then she didn’t leave the money in an estate now did she?
    .btw, didn’t Vincent write:
    that the galleries and art firms “are in the clutches of fellows who intercept all the money,” and that only “one-tenth of all the business that is transacted…is really done out of belief in art.

  2. nancy after thought says:

    Both Picasso and van Gogh were extremely passionate about their work; they loved what they did.
    I also realize it is getting around graduation time.
    It’s great to bring out the steve jobs’ hero line to stanford graduates and future generations. (Don’t get me wrong, steve, I have no problem with the line, not at all. I do have something for the crowd)
    you gotta love what you do.
    I always heard that what he said differently:
    love what you du
    love what you are made of
    (guts and glory and even gloom)
    love what you are familiar with
    (guts and glory and even gloom)