Jonathan Grossmalerman, on getting things done

The ups and downs of an artist's life, from the Summer 2015 issue

By Jonathan Grossmalerman

Things have really started to look up since I joined my new gallery, Nozzlebaum & Gack. Sure, maybe they’re no Gristle & Windsor, or even a Frankly, Fergus & Pishaw, but they’re no Hauser & Wirth, either, so… well… there’s that. Anyhow, since my return to the fold I’ve been really startled by how much the artworld has changed. I mean, I was only away 11 long, horrible months and I barely recognise the place! It’s like it’s gone into some sort of crackedout overdrive! Do you have any idea how much work I have to crank out now just to keep up with the art fairs and all of the new markets that have opened up? The Chinese buy art now? Who knew? And there are a lot of them! They’ve more than made up for my dwindling collector base of despots and strongmen. And there’s this guy in la who’s developed a surefire artist ranking system! In la! They have art in la now!!

But here it’s still just little old me and my 11 assistants trying to keep them all happy! And, after all, there’s only so much fucking time in the day! Most of it spent wandering around in a fevered panic! Am I supposed to be painting this vagina or that one? What colour green was I planning on using for that background? Do I send it to Chen Shui or Chen Chin? Is this cocaine, or is it methamphetamine I’ve mistaken for cocaine in my haste? Plus how do I stop the bleeding? I really need some sort of an organisational system to help me be more productive and less stressed out!

Once again, my dim-witted studio assistant Neal (that idiot!) really came through for me. He left a copy of Extreme Productivity: The Rod Verplanck Method Made Less Alienating, by Rod Verplanck, CPS, in the bathroom where he sits down to pee so he can weep. I picked it up and it has completely transformed my life. Basically, and it’s a little complicated, so bear with me, you have to write down what you need to do as some sort of list… But that’s not all… you have to make a few lists so that you don’t get overwhelmed or mix things up. That’s right! Even your lists have lists!

There’s a Projects list that’s for your projects and there’s a Next Actions list for actions you should probably do next. And that’s within the Projects list. And you even have to separate those. And the cool thing is, once you’ve written those down, they no longer clutter your brain and stress you out. You just have to check the list every now and then so that obviously bad types of things don’t happen because something’s not in your brain any more. Like forgetting to pick up your eleven-year-old daughter after surgery, you know – for instance – or picking up your studio assistant Neal from surgery, or another studio assistant from getting their stomach pumped, or the one who got the abortion. I don’t know why I’m always expected to pick everyone else up, like I’ve got nothing better to do. I should probably talk to them about that. Communication is really key, although the book doesn’t mention it.… yet…

I’ve really only read the list part. I really dig the lists. I’ve got a list for my upcoming museum show in Essen, the script I keep meaning to write and also having to write this column. That’s why I’m writing it! So I can cross it off my Next Actions list!! Write ArtReview column… right under… wait a second… it’s not on this list… Well fuck this! I shouldn’t be wasting my time, then… oh, wait! Here it is, under my Home Improvement list… Well that’s not where it should be! Also, I just noticed I never crossed off pick daughter up from Mount Sinai Hospital… Did… I… not do that? But I remember doing it… or do I? Is it possible that I’ve become so superproductive that I don’t even clutter my brain with accomplished tasks? Have I already, three hours into my list project, reached some sort of higher plane in stress-free productivity? And is my newfound success why my phone has been ringing nonstop for the last two hours? Isn’t it obvious I’m too busy to pick it up? And why is no one else picking up the phone? It’s oddly quiet and I have work to do! But what kind of work? Hmmm… let me consult my handy Vagina Painting project list. 

Read previous instalments of the life of Jonathan Grossmalerman

This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue.