Those of you who are devoted to art, who are in it for love and art's sake, please form a short line to the left. I'll be with you in a moment. (You will become accustomed to this off-to-the-side position in the years to come.)

Poster-buying people, please step up. You are a large group grooming yourselves to become sophisticates—­to be asked for money later by the art's-sake crowd. But for now, all you need to learn is what to put on your dorm-room walls. Your collection of reproductions could escort you triumphantly out of the sexless zone of your guardians and rescue you forever from the dullardliness of your hometown. You want to appear worldly and smart, but not too serious; you want contemporary art, but with a few historical wildcards. The stakes are high. If you avoid clichés, your betters may eventually reproduce with you or help you get lucrative jobs.

Consolingly, there are a few hard rules. First, no impressionists and no Salvador Dali. Think of water lilies and melting clocks as though they were early-morning classes, and just don't go there. Also, no Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, or Andy Warhol. Mark my words: These will bring shame upon you.

In general, collect images of prephotographic paintings—preferably pieces so old that the subjects have distorted body parts and virgin births on their minds—or images taken from artworks that are very young and not purchased in a mall but in the bookstore of a museum whose shows baffle you. (If the museum is selling more scarfs and earrings than art books, you risk walking out with a big smelly cliché.) Use your age as a gauge. Only show 20th-century art older than you are if you know what you're doing. Rothko will seem like a good idea; this is a trap. So is Matisse.

Postcards are better than posters—less commitment to each affords you more mistakes, and galleries provide free postcards at the door. This means you'll have to start seeing actual art, but it's something you'll have to do if you plan to become sophisticated, so you might as well get free postcards out of it. Buy your gifts at Bluebottle on Capitol Hill; buy your first real art at Roq la Rue in Belltown.

Above all, be casual and consider disconnections. Throw to-do lists, a sketch you found on the street, and a photo of your sister up next to Daumier on your corkboard. As the art critic John Berger wrote, "Logically, these boards should replace museums." Quote John Berger to guests. Discuss.

Art people, thank you for waiting. The city art walk is on the first Thursday of every month. For galleries, don't stop at Pioneer Square but keep going south, down to Lawrimore Project and then Western Bridge. For museums, check the elevator at the Henry Art Gallery on campus, and follow the Frye. For bars, sneak into the Hideout and find Greg Lundgren. He'll tell you the rest.