The Idler Questionnaire: Damien Hirst
10 November 2008
We put ten questions to the artist Damien Hirst following his sale of new work at Sotheby’s in September 2008 (Beautiful Inside My Head Forever).
1. Are you happy?
Yes. I don’t get down, I love life.
2. What are you reading at the moment?
This crazy book called Treasures from the Wreck of The Unbelievable. I’ve just done this big auction and it’s got me interested in the relationship between fact and fiction, myth and legend. The book’s a sort of fantasy, and I rarely read fiction, but I’m loving it and beginning to realise that all stories contain fragments of truth.
3. What was your worst job?
I got sacked for stealing from my job as a washer-upper in an Italian restaurant in Leeds.
In general though, I’ve found something good in all the jobs I’ve done. I worked at a market research company called MAS Research when I was organising ‘Freeze’  and it was so bad it was amazing. I used to have to ring people up and say: ‘Hello. My name’s Damien Hirst. I’m from M.A.S. Research and I’m doing a survey about electrical equipment in the home. Can I ask you a few questions? It’ll take two minutes.’ I remember it all so clearly because I loved the nonsense of it all. It was completely ridiculous. I used to go: ‘Can you tell me, do you own a TV? Do you have speakers?’ You’d go through every electrical known to man and it just sounded like you were going to rob them, so eventually everyone would just hang up. The company didn’t realise how absurd it was. It gave me a lot of phone confidence though and made me realise you can get anything over the phone if you want to, even a big shark.
4. How many hours do you work each day?
5. Town mouse or country mouse?
I’m a Gemini so I love both. I also love being by the sea.
6. Does love bring happiness or misery?
It’s gotta bring happiness or we wouldn’t do it, would we? I made a piece in ‘96 called Loving in a World of Desire that sums it all up for me. It’s a beach ball floating on a jet of air above this amazingly coloured geometric base. It’s kind of a self-portrait.
7. Mp3 or vinyl, real or e book?
Books, because they were my way into art.
8. What are your three greatest pleasures?
Art, The Beatles and snooker. I was playing snooker with Ronnie O’Sullivan whilst the auction was happening, I couldn’t bear to watch it.
9. Do you believe in the nap?
Yeah, more than I believe in God.
10. What advice do you have for young people?
Something my Mum said to me when I was little: ‘Don’t wish your life away’. Oh, and be patient.
Video: Tim Marlow interviews Damien Hirst prior to his ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’ auction at Sotheby’s, September 2008. Film © Science Ltd and Sotheby’s 2008. All rights reserved.