How to Sound Artistic and Cultured

Tolu Oyekan '14

As you all know, the Harper Center art tour is always over-subscribed. Many have tried to get one of the coveted spots, but few are fast enough to complete the Google form in 2 minutes or less. Now, I understand that besides easily performing a DCF, the most important thing at your future jobs is appearing cultured in front of your coworkers. Here are six tips on how to make others think you’re more cultured than you actually are.

1.       Always drink wine. Everywhere. And when you do, hold your pinky finger erect above the glass. This will signify to your coworkers that you appreciate the art of fine wine drinking. It will make you seem mysterious, and it will make your comments mildly incoherent and thus profound.

2.       Learn about an obscure art movement (for example De Stijl) and drop knowledge on your coworkers whenever you can. Never mind that you only just read about it on Wikipedia, simply speak freely and with confidence. No one will know. Plus, you should always be carrying knowledge of an obscure art movement anyways—you never know when someone will challenge you to defend your honor in an art-off.

3.       You absolutely need to have a go-to artsy book. That way, when you’re talking with a group of people and they ask what your favorite book is, your answer will intimidate the uncultured and impress the cultured. Make sure it’s a truly impressive book though – think The Art of the Salon by Norbert Wolf, not Water by Edward Burtynsky. I’m not trying to dis the work in Water, but it’s a collection of pictures and you are a product of the University of Chicago… leave Water and other picture books to the students of inferior universities. Besides, it’s hard to pronounce the author’s last name, and you wouldn’t want to risk someone calling you out.

4.       Add an artistic quote to your email signature line. Picasso’s “Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life” strikes a balance between accessible and deep. You might come across slightly douche-y, but only to those less cultured than you. Remember: to the uncultured, culture is douche-y.

5.       Grow ironic looking facial hair. Nothing says Italian art-connoisseur like a handlebar mustache. It also screams “I like Mario Brothers so much that I have decided to become Luigi.” Obviously, this tip only works for our start-up brethren and those that have decided against the corporate hustle. For everyone else, stick with European-style eyeglasses and tight black turtleneck sweaters.

6.       Finally, replace the “Questions” heading on the last page of every PowerPoint presentation with the famous Booth line, “Why are you here and not somewhere else?” With luck, your audience will be stunned into silence as they marvel at the depth of your soul. But if that doesn’t happen, at least there’s one component of your presentation you can discuss with confidence.


If you don’t like any of these tips, you need to get cultured. Maybe try an art tour—May 8th (2nd years only) and May 22nd.