I read an extremely funny book yesterday: Bad Ass Art. It was written and self-published a couple years ago by Gary Lee Cordray, as his thesis project for a degree in art at Ohio University. It lays out essentially how to become a Bad Ass Artist, a process that begins by rolling dice in order to determine all the elements you need for your work to add up to a score of either +6, +12, +18, or +24, in the Bad Ass Art-Making system. Or if you already have an idea for a work of art, you can calculate how all the work’s elements add up, and then modify your notion so that you get a score which is a multiple of 6 points. (You don’t need to understand this. I don’t. I don’t think Lee wants you to.) There are four levels you can attain, the lowest being Badass Art. Next up, Fine Art. Then, Badass Fine Art, and finally, at the highest level, High Art. A few examples of how to score your work by identifying Bad Ass elements: Big Watery Eyes, +1; Jars, Bottles or Urns, +1; Glowing, as if Magical or Divine, +1; Bar codes, pills, or price tags, +1; Realistic-looking or lifelike, +1; Part of a coherent series or body of work, +1; Big sharp teeth/fangs, +1; Reflections, +1; Add wings, +1, and so on. The list of elements runs to 80 elements in four categories: Dark, Weird, Sexy, and Artistic. To be Bad Ass, a work needs to draw elements from at least three categories. There is no justification for any of the scoring rules, of course, but as you thumb through it, the prose lulls you into nodding and adding up numbers from your own work, thinking, huh, OK, that canvas I finished last week, hm, three, four points, no, five. No! Only five! OMG. Fail!
The opening of the book has it’s most rewarding voice:
“Welcome to Bad Ass Art; a mode of art making that has set many artists free from thinking too hard More