Friday, August 10, 2007

7. If you've got "it" use it!

Being good won't make you famous

“the famous architect requires no clients”

To be a good architect, you must have a modicum of talent and many happy clients, pleased with your buildings. You won't be able to pay your bills, otherwise.

To be an internationally famous architect requires no clients at all, and certainly no buildings. Ms Zaha Hadid, one of the most lauded and famous architects of our time, was lauded and famous before she ever built so much as a brick sh*thouse. She received her first paying commission for a real building after 25 years in the business. Like many others of the greats — especially the postmodernists — her reputation was based entirely on images, not real-life.

Being a famous architect requires little contact with reality; only an indulgent benefactor who will pay your bills year after year. You can spend many a happy decade entering international competitions, which you never seem to quite win. With the right connections, though, you can have your drawings published in the right avant-garde magazines, books and sites, thereby garnering the fame you so rightly deserve.
Why you don't want to win a competition

The last thing that you as a potential genius wants is to win a competition before you are forty and your benefactor's money and tolerance has run out. Oi vey! Then all the problem fairies will appear, fairies who never before set a foot on your pristine drawing board or screen.

You've spent your life designing self-indulgent fantasies. Now you actually have to make one come to life.

You probably won a competition in a country you've never set foot in, so you have no more idea of local building regulations and customs than a mouse does of string theory. The client actually works to a budget, so you have to assuage his or her constant meddling in your expensive genius. The sad fools who certify building health and safety are so arrogant as to tell you how to distribute toilet facilities, or how much car-parking you must have, or that your creation must satisfy fire regulations. What pish-tosh!

And then there is the actual builder! My God, what a vulgarian!

Here is our simple plan for international success:

* Be born rich, so you have class from the start. Then your parents will be able to afford to pay the hefty fees when you ask to…
* Study at the right hip school. While there you will…
* Refine the exquisite tastes and habits that will mark you forever as one of the culturati. And your parent's and your school's connections will enable you to…
* Get into the most-talked about practices. Your boss can then use his (oh so rarely her!) connections so that you can…
* Meet the right critics, who will talk about you, and publish all your drawings for architecture that no one actually wants built. While you are waiting for that to happen, you will…
* Return to teach at the hip schools that taught you. There you can earn a living with minimal effort, since your own unbuilt works will be the ready-made basis of all your courses.

Take a look at the play or film Six Degrees of Separation. If that is your family background: settle back, relax, and play the game as you innately know how to — you are already on your way.

Rich parents and friends will help you tide over the lean years (which can stretch into decades) while you wait for your first prestigious commission.

The rest of your contemporaries have a family and a mortgage: if they don't please clients by designing real buildings, they will starve.

With money behind you, you can spend your twenties, thirties and even beyond as a dilettante. How many architects could afford to wait to receive their first commission until 44 years of age, the age at which Ms Hadid's first design was actually built?

Copyright © 2001-2007 Garry Stevens.


Eni + Anu said...

Very depressing but thank you ;-)

Anonymous said...

Do u still write...?
btw I like the line where u add in bracket -"oh so rarely her!"

Anonymous said...

Please tell me this isn't true. Because I thought you get out of collage start building homes and get people to sell them to make money but if this is all true well then no way would I ever want to do this as a job!

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed a slight brush with fame, and can confirm that your analysis is accurate. In my case it was the published articles that did it. I managed to get quite a few. It was really surprising when my first groupie called my house on the Sunday that a feature about me appeared in the newspaper. I also met a stunning, extremely sexy girl, from Guyana, who I still think about eighteen years later, and a glamourous, exotic real estate person from South Africa, who offered me a weekend in Seattle with her within minutes of me meeting her. Not to mention the hot busty blonde client who peeled off her top and made me an offer, that I regretfully had to refuse..... This brings me to my only bit of advice, if you intend on getting famous, do it before (not after, as I did) you are married.