This Was Your Life: The Modern Artist

This comic strip is the 15th episode in a series in which Loki and his supernatural friends taunt the recently deceased.

 modern artist

See who else Loki and his friends have taunted:


On an endless stretch of clouds stands a man with a long white beard, wearing a blue jumpsuit and a green hat. Standing next to him is a knee-high demon with reptilian skin and pointy ears. A man wearing a ridiculous outfit that looks like a satellite approaches.

Demon: Oh my God! Is that who I think it is?

Modern Artist: Oh, hello there. Welcome to my presence.

Demon: It’s the great modern artist, Picasso Rothko Pollock Warhol!

Loki: Never heard of him. Did he do anything useful?

Demon: He did more for art than Jesus did for morality.

Modern Artist: Thank you. Would you like an autograph?

Demon: Thanks, but I already know how to spell your name. What I’d really like is for you to critique a piece of my art.

Modern Artist: Lucky for you my schedule seems to have come open. You may proceed.

A fiery explosion erupts between the demon and artist. When the smoke clears there is a blue 50 gallon drum full of trash bags.

Loki: Oops. You accidentally summoned the barrel of trash you picked up earlier today.

Demon: No. This is my masterpiece. I call it, “La Vita.”

Modern Artist: Ooooo. The composition is raw and bold. It projects so many statements about our place in the universe, society and our own hearts.

Demon: That’s exactly what I was going for.

Loki: What are you lunatics talking about? This isn’t art. It’s literally garbage.

Modern Artist: Ha ha ha. Your appreciation for art is so primitive. Can’t you see the inner forces, the motion, the energy this piece expresses?

Loki: All I see is a trash barrel.

Modern Artist: You obviously need to go to art school and learn how to worship whichever artists your teachers tell you are genius.

Loki: Or I could just go on not giving a crap about talentless hacks who try to pass off random junk as art.

Modern Artist: If you’re so smart, which artists do you consider genius?

Loki: Off the top of my head, Leonardo Da Vinci, M. C. Escher, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, H.R. Geiger, Norman Rockwell. Basically people who spent a lifetime mastering a rare and difficult skill set.

Modern Artist: Your opinion of art is wrong. Great art doesn’t require any technical skill. In fact, if you practice drawing for decades until you perfect the art of photorealistic image reproduction, that makes you a boring, stupid ass hole.

Loki: That or it makes you laudably talented.

Modern Artist: No, it’s the idea behind a piece of art that gives it value, not the countless hours of practice or rare technical skills required to create it.

Loki: Are you saying that splatter paints, cans of beans and barrels of trash are better art than anything created in the Renaissance?

Modern Artist: Well, art is subjective. So if you think boring, academic vomit is the best art, then it is for you.

Loki: I just don’t think barrels of trash belong in the same museums as paintings that required a lifetime of skill mastery to produce.

Modern Artist: You’re so provincial it’s almost cute. You think all there is to art is making a copy of what something looks like? Art isn’t supposed to capture what a think looks like. Art captures what a thing is.

Demon: That’s so friggin deep. I wish you would start a cult so I could join it.

Loki: Apparently my appreciation for art is so shallow that I only value portraits and photographs of fruit bowls… while you’ve tapped into a higher level of consciousness that can only be expressed in cryptic pseudo-religious catch phrases.

Modern Artist: Beautifully illustrated.

Loki: Okay, Buddha. Enlighten me as to why I should pay 13 million dollars for a barrel of trash.

Modern Artist: You don’t marry someone because of what their skin looks like. You marry them because of the idea of who they are. The skin is worthless, but the idea is priceless. Such as it is with art.

Loki: I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m just saying that doesn’t make a barrel of garbage or a black canvas worth millions of dollars.

Demon: Damn, dude. I’m trying to worship my idol here, and you’re wasting my time in the limelight pissing in his ear.

Modern Artist: I’m glad someone around here has some common sense.

Demon: Oh, great one. Please give me some advice on how to get my art into galleries, exhibits, auctions and magazines so I can sell my garbage for millions of dollars.

Modern Artist: Art is a business. Your work is a product, and you’re a brand. The steps to selling any widget are basically the same. You have to market and sell a product that is in demand by your target audience. If there is no demand, you have to create it.

Demon: Dang it. You mean I have to become a professional marketer and salesman?

Modern Artist: I’m afraid so.

Demon: But I just want to create art and have people instantly recognize my passion and genius.

Loki: Man, if you want people to pay millions of dollars for garbage, you’re going to have to polish that turd a little before you rub it in people’s faces.

Modern Artist: Well, you’re on the right track. In order to sell art you have to present your work in a way that appeals to your customers.

Loki: How? By dressing it up in the emperor’s new clothes?

Modern Artist: Ugh. No. By using technically proficient marketing techniques.

Demon: Marketing?

Modern Artist: Yes, marketing. That’s what I’ve been saying.

Demon: But marketing is literally brainwashing. You’re convincing people to believe what you want them to by bypassing their conscious logic and manipulating them subconsciously.

Modern Artist: So? Everybody does it, which means it’s okay.

Demon: I think I’ve been living a lie. What if my idol isn’t really a genius? What if he’s just an asshole conman who tricked a bunch of gullible fools into buying overpriced garbage? What if there isn’t really any quasi-religious meaning behind modern art, and we’re all just a bunch of vapid, pretentious wankers having a circle jerk and deluding ourselves?

Modern Artist: I swear on my testicles’ grave that modern art is more genius than mankind has evolved enough to understand.

Loki: Well, no sense arguing about things that can be fact checked. Let’s look up the answer.

Modern Artist: You can’t fact check art. That’s the point. Art is…

Loki: Blah blah blah. Spare us your cryptic catch phrases, Confucius.

Demon: Yeah, we’re just going to ask God to reveal the truth to us.

Loki: Summon the creator of all things!


A giant tyrannesourus rex head pops out of the clouds.

God: Quit making all that racket. I’m trying to rest. Anyway, what do you want, son?

Demon: Tell us, oh father, what does your all-seeing eye see before you?

God: Uhhh. I’m looking at one barrel of trash and one ass hole.

Modern Artist: Ugh. My brain…

The modern artist’s head explodes, drenching his satellite costume in blood.

God: Oops. Sorry about that.

Loki: Thank you, actually.

The end.

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