8 Lifestyle Lessons From Andy Warhol

Jan 7, 2013 | Life With Art


To know me is to know that I would travel great distances (and have) to hang out with anyone who knew Andy Warhol.  Even a glimmer of glitter, a word, a phrase, and anecdote about Warhol will suffice?

Why am I so into Andy Warhol?  A few of the reasons that have informed my every day…

1.  He understood life as art in the grandest sense.  Everything from the way he dressed to the way he spoke (or didn’t speak) was inimitable and became a canon of art in and of itself. 

2. He created a “family” of like minded people who were interested in artistic self-expression.  Yes, there were drugs and there was wild sex in the “Factory” family, but it was a ripe playground for creativity and synergy. Can you imagine if you really rallied all of your most talented friends into a business/social network with a regular meeting place and creative freedom? Maybe its time to do that!?

ddd31_warhol-o3.  He wasn’t afraid to idolize people. All those famous Marilyn Monroe’s and Elvis silk screens, and Jackie O’s amongst the masses of others that he created, were borne of his love of iconic celebrity.  There are too many haters just waiting to tear apart a celebrity these days— but he loved the whole Hollywood world, and given his affinity, its no surprise he would become equally iconic.   While I don’t suggest you randomly idolize others, there is something to be said for admiring talent and “the good” in those who have achieved a high level of acclaim, rather than just seeing the “bad.”  What you criticize you can not become!

4. He actually mastered his craft before venturing into new territory.  While I don’t think you need to go to art school to be an artist, you do need to gain mastery in your craft, and that takes work. Warhol worked for it- drawing since a child then heading to Carnegie Mellon for a BFA in Graphic Design.  He was a working commercial illustrator before taking a flying leap into a whole new realm of artistic expression- Pop Art.  There was nothing amateur about his work.  Hone your own craft and you will find that you are able to break more rules after mastering the basics.

5.  He knew what he liked and did it.  Not everything Warhol did was entertaining, beautiful or “groundbreaking.”  I mean, some of his films were… experimental.  Watching someone sleep for a few hours is not exactly riveting, though that was the theme of one of his films!  Some of his artwork was a leap, even for him.  Some things people thought were garbage, though he went with it and stuck to his guns.  You know, his first exhibit of now-infamous Campbell’s soup cans were not greeted with open arms and a standing ovation, but the few who purchased early for pennies could retire on a the value of a single image a few decades later.  Why compromise your aesthetic?


6.  He was prolific with ideas, and had them executed— even if not by his own hand. Perhaps we are a bit too precious with the notion that we have to physically, by our own hand, create every idea that we have? Andy didn’t.  He had a studio filled with “helpers” who executed lots of his ideas.  Could you use to have people around you to help you execute your ideas?  Entrepreneurs and even some inventors work this way to create volumes of value, and there are a legion of artists who followed in the Warholian “studio assistant/factory as the creator” model. 

7.  He transcended social class, traditional values and even good sense.  I once stood in Chelsea at Gagosian at a private “lecture” enraptured, listening to a former Factory member talk about the way in which Andy decided to paint the drag queens who hung out at the nightclub “The Gilded Grape.”  He also snapped Polaroids of random people, not just socialites and superstars.  He championed every type of sexuality in his art and his life, which was progressive beyond compare. 

8.  Oh yes, and of course, he was completely self-made and quite the blazing genius of a business man, too. From humble beginnings, Warhol grew to be an icon.  His passion for image and the “Pop” cultural future he envisioned, led him into opportunities that he seized and capitalized on.   He understood branding in a visual and artistic sense, and created a brand out of himself that was infectious and as mesmerizing as many of his subjects.  In a sense,  Andy cast himself as the start of the movie of his life, and that was a big industry.   He was not in the dark about his personal assets: he was  aware of his financial affairs and business decisions- mentioning in his diaries and accounts from friends who had owed him money, who was generous and even the tax benefits of “work” socializing. So, for all of you creative types who say you are just “terrible” in business, perhaps its time to master business as an art form? 

Dig into the Warholian myth and life and you may also find yourself obsessed!


I love the idea of having a group— a tribe, an extended family, a community!  Join me HERE on my special little mailing list for more classes, teleseminars, free lectures, in-person events… a ton of special discounts, freebies and fun ideas that will help you brighten your life! xoxo Dana


  1. Aurora

    Wow, Dana! What a truly creative and insightful write up on such an interesting subject.
    These are valuable pointers for any artist, creative or businessperson. Thank you !

    • danaclaudat

      🙂 you’d probably love his diaries, so much fun to read!

  2. Andre

    Nice one! I usually like your posts related to art but being a fan of Warhol myself I especially love seeing this so well written out; thanks! And yep ‘rallying all of my most talented friends into a business/social network with a regular meeting place and creative freedom’ is actually my dream life.


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