Choose a language
Use Arthive in the language you prefer
Sign up
Create an account
Register to use Arthive functionality to the maximum

Ten lessons of successful self-promotion from Salvador Dali

"I will be a genius, and the world will admire me. Perhaps I’ll be despised and misunderstood, but I’ll be a genius, a great genius, I’m certain of it".

This is the note that Salvador Dali wrote in his diary when he was 16. During his life, he used all the methods to become famous and make the world talk about him and his creativity. Now his art works are among the most recognizable paintings in the history of art, also thanks to his successful public relations. Here we list ten self-promotion methods Salvador Dali used in the career of one of the most successefull artists of the 20th century.

1. Kick up a row

Break accepted standards of behavior and shock the society as Salvador Dali did
In 1934, Dali and his wife arrived in New York, and the artist performed the scene which delighted sensation-seeking journalists. He got off the ship with a baguette two meters long in his hands. He showed the reporters a photo of his wife Gala in the hat decorated with meatballs and commented, "I love burgers and my wife, so I like to picture them together". The couple quickly fell into the gossip columns of all New York’s newspapers. Provocative and scandalous behavior accompanied Dali throughout his life, but these first moments made the whole world talk about him.
Salvador Dali. Honey is sweeter than blood

Happy is he who causes a scandal.

In order to acquire a growing and lasting respect in society, it is a good thing, if you possess great talent, to give, early in your youth, a very hard kick to the right shin of the society that you love. After that, be a snob.

Salvador Dali

2. Use media to promote yourself

You have to be a public person; you should give interviews sharing the believe that public relations is as important as your art works are.
Thanks to his unusual behavior, Dali was always in the center of journalists' attention, and the relations with media were the important part of the artist`s self-branding. His portraits appeared on the front covers of "Times" and "Life" magazines. He was interviewed on television many times. One of his most popular interview dates 1958. Mike Wallace called Dali "the genius for publicity" then. They have been talking about chastity and nuclear physics, but mostly about Surrealism
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more Surrealism (Fr. surréalisme) is an avant-garde art movement of the first half of the twentieth century characterized by the fusion of reality with something else, but not oppositional. Surrealism is a dream which is neither real, nor surreal. The style is characterized by allusions and a paradoxical combination of forms, visual deception. In the paintings of the Surrealists hard objects and rocks often melt, and the water, on the contrary, hardens. Read more
and the artists` contribution to the world. Salvador Dali spoke about himself in the third person, and when Wallace asked him about the greatest contemporary painter, the artist answered, "First, Dalí. Then, Picasso".
"I cannot understand why human beings should be so little individualized, why they should behave with such great collective uniformity. I do not understand why when I ask for a grilled lobster at a restaurant, I’m never served a cooked telephone."
Salvador Dali, in Mike Wallace interview

3. Find the right PR-manager

Find someone who will inspire you and solve all your organizational and financial problems.
In 1929, Salvador Dali met Gala, née Elena Ivanovna Diakonova. She became a muse and a life partner of the artist as well as his manager and impresario, so she influenced the development of Salvador Dali’s career. She took on all commercial issues, but never interfered in his creative process, becoming the only and the most silent muse of the artist.

Gala had taken the first steps for the promotion of Salvador Dali understanding the importance to have contacts at European aristocratic circles. In 1930, when the couple moved to Paris, she decided to use all the opportunities to appear in public and strike up the necessary acquaintances. One evening Gala and Salvador met a French aristocrat Prince Jean-Louis de Fossini-Lousing. In conversation with him Gala said that her husband was a real genius. In 1932, the Prince organized a club "Zodiac" which included twelve members who became sponsors of Salvador Dali. Each month one of the members paid the artist 2.5 thousand francs for one of the paintings created that month.

In the United States Gala also realized all her managerial capacities making friends with the billionaires' families and rich philanthropists.

Without Gala, divine Dali would be insane
Salvador Dali


4. Make friendship with collectors

Create a straight and warm friendship with rich and important people who buy your paintings and help them to become your art critic. Dali’s example taught that there is also a possibility they would found a museum.
Reynolds Morse and Eleanor Reese Morse first saw Dali’s works in 1941, and two years after they bought their first Dali "Daddy Longlegs of the Evening — Hope!" as a wedding present to themselves. Also thanks to Gala’s communicating skills the Morse’s family became patrons and friends of Dali; their collection was growing and Reynolds was the author of numerous studies about Dali’s art.
They have bought over a hundred of Dali’s paintings and nearly a thousand of his drawings, watercolors, prints and objects, so their collection became the largest collection of the artist’s works outside Spain. In 1982, Dali Museum was established in St. Petersburg, and in 2011 it relocated to a new building. The mission of the museum is to be the place of beauty dedicated, as is Dali’s art, to understanding and transformation.

Sharing their knowledge and understanding of Salvador Dalí and his art has been a lifelong mission for this dedicated couple
Robert S. Lubar


5. Create successful collaborations

Cooperate with famous persons, especially from the world of fashion
Dali’s first collaboration was with designer Elsa Schiaparelli who shocked the fashion industry with her dresses and fragrances as well as Salvador Dali shocked with his art works. The bases of Elsa Schiaparelli’s style were luxury and elegance, wonderfully combined with the rough and sometimes misunderstood humor. All progressive women in Europe were in love with the outfits from this designer. Elsa always tried to be original and put effort to create something truly unique. Many exclusive models of the designer were born under the influence of prominent representatives of Surrealism and, of course, Salvador Dali, who was Elsa’s friend. Together they have created iconic 'lobster dress' and the fragrance called "Shocking".

The constant tragedy of life is fashion and that is why I have always liked to collaborate with (…) Madame Schiaparelli, just to prove that the idea of dressing oneself, the idea of disguising oneself, was only the consequence of the traumatic experience of birth, which is the strongest of all the traumas that a human being can experience, since it is the first.
Salvador Dalí


The result of the artist`s another famous collaboration with photographer Philippe Halsman was the photo story "Dali Atomicus" which, of course, evoked Dali’s surrealistic paintings, especially 'Leda Atomica'. With the help of the assistants including Halsman’s wife and daughter, with no Photoshop, these two geniuses created a famous gravity-defying surrealistic scene with flying cat and chair. "Dali was a painter and my father was a photographer, Dali never really wanted to photograph, Philippe never wanted to pick up the paint brush but together they collaborated and made the most wonderful pictures," Halsman’s daughter Irene said in one of her interviews.

For me, photography can be dead serious or great fun. Trying to capture the elusive truth with a camera is often frustrating toil. Trying to create an image that does not exist, except in one’s imagination, is often an elating game. I particularly enjoy this game when I play it with Salvador Dali. We were like two accomplices. Whenever I had an unusual idea, I would ask him to be the hero of my photograph. There was a cross-stimulation going on.
Philippe Halsman


6. Cooperate with fashion magazines

Propose to create an unusual content, photography or illustration for one of the most popular fashion magazines and create a sort of revolution in this industry.
When the "heart" of every magazine was not photography but illustration, Salvador Dali created epochs in the history of the famous magazines as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy.

The first magazine to cooperate with the Surrealist artist was Harper’s Bazaar. Dali made the illustrations for its September issue in 1935. This experiment was risky for a women`s magazine, but the result exceeded all expectations. The society received a cultural "slap" and began to breathe. The magazine had gained a huge following, and since then it became one the most prestigious women’s fashion magazines.

After Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue showed interest to the mystical Surrealist, and in 1938, Dali created the first cover for December’s issue. Other covers by Salvador Dali appeared in 1944, 1946 and 1977. As well as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue has benefited from this collaboration with the artist, as it became known as a progressive fashion magazine.

Drawing is the honesty of art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.
Salvador Dali


7. Create luxury products – fragrances and jewels

Make not only art, but try to conquest the world of fashion creating fragrances with your name, dresses or jewels marked by your style
The first set of Salvador Dali’s jewels was made in collaboration with Duke Fulco di Verdura, who also worked for Coco Chanel. It was shown in 1941 at Julien Levy Gallery. Then during the 1950s, Dalí dreamed up new fantastical designs, he drew sketches and carefully worked through all the details, from forms to colors. He personally selected every jem and watched how the jeweler Carlos Alemany embodied his ideas in gold.

By 1970, Salvador Dali came up with 39 sketches, and talented jewelers created 37 pieces. The jewelry collection of Salvador Dali is the unique kind of jewelry’s set with an amazing combination of subjects, materials, sizes and shapes which shows recognizable style of the genius. Gold, platinum, gems, pearls and corals ceased to be not just expensive materials. They did not even become just earrings, brooches or necklaces, but turned into hearts, lips, eyes, flowers, animals and anthropomorphic forms, religious and mythological symbols. Some of them are also mechanical, like "The Royal heart", which was requested by Gala. It is luxurious ruby and no doubt, the heart full of life: 46 rubies, 42 diamonds and 4 emeralds combined into a single precious composition, which was made in such a way that the movable center beats like a real heart.
In the introduction of a 1959 catalogue of his jewels, Dalí wrote: "Paladin of a new Renaissance
The Renaissance is the period that began around the 14th century and ended at the late 16th century, traditionally associated primarily with the Italian region. The ideas and images of the Renaissance largely determined the aesthetic ideals of modern man, his sense of harmony, measure and beauty. Read more
, I too refuse to be confined. My art encompasses physics, mathematics, architecture, nuclear science—the psycho-nuclear, the mystico-nuclear—and jewelry—not paint alone."
Dali’s relationship with perfumery started in 1936, when he designed the bottle for "Le Roy Soleil" perfume by Elsa Schiaparelli dedicated to the end of World War II. It’s the Baccarat crystal bottle with the ocean’s waves and a Surrealist golden sun.

The first fragrance with Dali’s name was launched in 1983 as a tribute to his wife and muse Gala. For him, the perfume was also one of the forms of artistic expression. The first fragrance was inspirited by his "Apparition of the Aphrodite of Knidos" painting. The subject was used for the bottle and packaging design. The base of the fragrant range of perfume is a delicate combination of jasmine and rose, favorite flavors of Dali’s couple. The first and unique perfume created by the artist was produced as limited edition at the price about 20000 francs per bottle.
Among the five senses, smell is unquestionably the one that best gives the idea of immortality.
Salvador Dali

8. Write and publish your diary

Start to write a diary to make your private life more public. Now you don’t even need to write a book, just use social media.

Salvador Dali was the author of seven books. Three of them are the artist`s diaries: The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (1942), Diary of a Genius (1963), The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dalí (1976). These books were written with a detailed and methodical style and tell us very intimate and shocking facts of Dali’s life. The Diary of a Genius can be a good example how to promote yourself. The author called this book the first diary which was written by the genius to demonstrate that "the daily life of a genius, his sleep, his digestion, he ecstasies, his nails, his colds, his blood, his life and death are essentially different from the rest of mankind".

Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure — that of being Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali


9. Create your image

Find your own style and especially your own emblem, which would distinguished your personality

The unique form of Salvador Dali’s mustache is one of the most recognizable emblems in a history of art. There is an entire book about an iconic mustache created by the artist and his friend Philippe Halsman. "Dali's mustache" was dedicated to the artists` wives Gala Dali and Yvonne Moser, "To Gala who is the guardian angel of my mustache also. To Yvonne for whom I shave daily." In the preface, Dali explained the story of his mustache which appeared first in Time magazine as "the smallest mustache in the world" and then grown "like the power of my imagination".
Recent artist’s exhumation for DNA testing has shown that the famous mustache is still in a perfect condition.

Since I don’t smoke, I decided to grow a mustache—it is better for the health.
[…] Many marvelous and inspirational uses of this mustache are shown in this book. But every day I find new ones. This very morning, I discovered that my mustache can serve as an ultra-personal brush. With the points of its hair, I can paint a fly with all the details of his hair.
[…]Some day perhaps one will discover a truth almost as strange as this mustache—namely, that Salvador Dali was possibly also a painter.

Salvador Dali’s preface to the book "Dali's mustache"

10. First of all, be an Artist

Never forget that you are an artist and never stop to create significant art works

Salvador Dali put himself at the center of artistic universe of the 20th century, but his famous phrase "I am Surrealism" was not only PR. Dali was not just a famous eccentric artist who used all the instruments for self-promotion. His artistic work and his creativity were the basis for the growth of an outrageous and world-famous image of the genius. His paintings are full of sense and touch on such important themes as the civil war, the atomic bomb and Nazism and Catholicism. His ideas of in his art works were almost shocking, but it was Dali’s method in art and in his life as well. And this kind of mindset, mentality, the way of interacting with the world is Surrealism, and Surrealism
Avant-garde is how modern art critics refer the general trend of new artistic directions that arose in world art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. A very thin line separates it from the concept of “modernism”. Read more Surrealism (Fr. surréalisme) is an avant-garde art movement of the first half of the twentieth century characterized by the fusion of reality with something else, but not oppositional. Surrealism is a dream which is neither real, nor surreal. The style is characterized by allusions and a paradoxical combination of forms, visual deception. In the paintings of the Surrealists hard objects and rocks often melt, and the water, on the contrary, hardens. Read more
is Salvador Dali.
Salvador Dali. The persistence of memory

Painting is an infinitely minute part of my personality.
The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret.
Salvador Dali