You may, like me, have received an email from Florida this week titled, “Inquiry your artwork.” The letter says you are talented and that there’s an artist agency interested in representing you. This agency offers “gallery exposure,” “multimedia marketing,” “art book artist profiles” and “art fair exhibitions.” The letter includes links to a PDF brochure and a website.
In an effort to save you some time, I’ve drafted a reply. You can feel free to make your own changes.
Thanks for your message and the links to your brochure and website. Your materials clearly state that you take zero commission on artwork sales, but I wasn’t able to find any specifics regarding your business model. A little digging on Google has shown that you charge a fee of $5995.00 for showing two pieces at a time in your gallery for one year, a two-page profile in a double issue of your magazine and a quarter wall at two art fairs under your gallery banner. Commissions are not charged until the fee amount is met. After that, you charge a 25% commission on artwork sales. Please let me know if this is correct — as I mentioned, I had to look for this information in online artist reviews.
Since your business is not based on commissions for sold artwork, I fear there’s no real incentive for you to nurture collectors, who are a backbone of financial survival for artists. A vague, predatory email that attempts to exploit an artist’s legitimate need to exhibit and find gallery representation clutters an already challenging professional landscape. Artists thrive when they work with gallery partners who are passionate about supporting both artists and collectors over a lifetime of professional development, creative growth, expression, archival support and cultural enrichment.
Please consider changing your business model to one that truly recognizes the value of artists and collectors — one based upon conscientious and ethical programming, not fees.”
PS: “The Truth is the only thing you’ll ever run into that has no agenda.” (Adyashanti)
Esoterica: I met an art friend for a drink recently and after a couple of superior gimlets, she told me about a project she’s working on called SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. She mentioned that galleries are sometimes weakened by lopsided rosters; one or two art stars or one or two supportive collectors who, if something changes, can make a gallery vulnerable. I asked her to lay a SWOT analysis on me. (The bartender leaned in.) She thought for a moment, then reminded me to work strengths (honing quality ideas and craftsmanship) and to be aware of weaknesses (fear, avoidance, risk aversion, comfort.) “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet,” wrote Helen Keller. “Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
The group exhibition Winter Wonderwalls opens at Kimoto Gallery tonight, Friday, November 30th, 2018 in Vancouver, BC from 6-9pm and continues until December 22nd. Happy Holidays! https://kimotogallery.com/
“Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams, / Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you ‘round.” (William Butler Yeats)
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I am very happy to be teaching two workshops at Casa Buena Art Retreat Center again next year. Register for one or stay for both.
THE FIGURE – Feb 20 – 27, ’19. Enjoy working with a live model using dry media. We will deal with proportion, measurement and likeness.
PLEIN AIR – Feb 27 – Mar 6, ’19. Paint authentic Mexico – village life, beaches and landscape. We will deal with composition, light & shadow, color, value and more.
Cost: CAN $1800 + GST. Includes instruction, some art supplies, accommodation, all meals, transportation to and from Puerto Vallarta airport, visits to surrounding areas, a jungle boat ride and a lot of fun.
Contact Jane Romanishko firstname.lastname@example.org for the extra 3 day “no-pressure” painting option.
Christine Hanlon, whose work has been compared to that of Edward Hopper, creates ‘urban landscapes which quietly exude atmosphere.’
Thank you for such a kind letter to this predator. I have gotten requests like that and worte a far nastier reply once I saw what they were doing. There is also some scam asking to buy your work, they will pick up with a bigger check which you give them the change for. duh. It plays to our vulnerabilities. Thanks for your post.
Sending an email to people like this is a waste of time. They know what they are…scam artists…and that is the only interest in art they have. Having run a gallery, I know that an artist doesn’t doesn’t receive unsolicited offers. Anything that seems too good to be true….IS. Save time and a little effort and ignore any solicitations that come your way….either by email or phone. They all are someone trying to take your money and give nothing in return.
Thank you, Sara. I received the same solicitation. Your reply is eloquent and to the point and even includes positive suggestions should they choose to consider them!
Go Sarah!! You were very polite to those scum bags.
Thanks for making this more apparent. It would be interesting to determine if galleries ever sell work when they have no financial incentive.
Soooo well put! “A vague predatory email….” yes, my inbox is filled with this garbage. The alternative vision you suggest is pitch perfect. May the world take notice. I’d like to live in that version, please.
They’re out there.
This week Parris Walton from North Carolina e mailed in the UK wanting to urgently purchase five of my paintings.
He has a “big anniversary” coming up and wants to surprise and delight his wife as she loves “art and stuff about animals” (I’m a wildlife artist) My paintings are fairly large and take me quite a few weeks to paint, this is reflected in the price. Five of my paintings would be a considerable and generous present.
He urged me to ship them with out delay to “Global Freight” in London, where I would be paid via bank transfer on delivery. His bank has assured him that this is safe and I can rely on him. There is a warehouse address I have to send it to near Heathrow in Slough.
His anniversary is only in a few days time and he doesn’t want to disappoint his darling wife.
So if your reading this Mrs Walton, happy anniversary and sorry for your disappointment.
I delete these “invitations” and never reply.
I just delete these “invitations” and I don’t reply.
Thank you Sara. Sometimes the scam can be some what believable. It helps to be reminded, as you have with your letter, that it just takes a little research to expose the real intent. Thank you so ever much.
Your letter is very well written but a waste of your time. They know what they are doing and they know the business model of a traditional gallery. When artists do not take them up on their deal they will go out of business.
I delete these emails as soon as I see them. To me they are just so much spam.
I haven’t seen any such ‘phishing’ in my Inbox. As yet. If I did, simply seeing ‘Inquiry you artwork’ would be sufficient reason for me to immediately ‘tag’ it as Spam and then immediately Delete it. ‘Inquiry your artwork’ isn’t even good English, never mind that the source of this would be unknown to me and that in itself raises a ‘flag’ with me. It’s Spam.
Thank you so much Sara , I appreciate your email. Greetings from Spain.
Thanks for this…spot on.
I receive this type of inquiry from time to time. Once it was actually a legitimate inquiry and I ended up selling 4 pieces for about 10K. Crazy world; be wary but be open.
Really!!! Wow! I have not replied to the last three or four….
My Nova Scotia workshops usually attract people from other countries, like the U.S., the U.K., and sometimes even Germany and Australia.
BUT, I am pleased to say that I am FINALLY getting some REAL international recognition for the workshops.
“Dears wish you are doing well, my name is Sonia Bashir from Kuristan Region of Iraq.
Currently im working as ART teacher in Kurdistan region, i am willing to participate in ART WORKSHOP IN Winter 2019 at your collage, i filled the registration form and i am kindly asking you to answer me the following concerns:
1- is it possible to get a recommendation letter to Canadian consulate in Amman to apply for Canadian Visa ?
2- can you advise me regarding the tuition fees for participating in the program as my company wills to sponsor me in the course and i have to refer the payment to our finance department?
3- the payment is refundable or not? because as i mentioned in the above points i will process a visa application and need to be sure Thank you..”
So very, very interesting!!!!! I took a free on-line workshop course about getting your book published. Lo and behold – I got a very long email that started with telling me that people were very impressed with my e-book on-line and etc., etc. about how they would be interested in publishing it etc. and how. much it would cost etc.
I sent them an email telling them that I did not have a book so how could anyone be praising it. I forwarded the email THREE TIMES to the person who gave the workshop course and wondered how this company would get my email address and name. I never did get an answer so I will NOT now take the course being given that costs from this person since he couldn’t be bothered answering.
Why waste your time… isn’t it obvious
Thanks for doing all the research and telling us what their deal is. What a rip!!!! Hope no one falls for it. I like the way you couched it as a reply to these thieves.
Love the profound quotes. Thank You.
WOW, Sara, that’s quite a letter. You are amazingly gifted with words, sentences, paragraphs. I so wonder if you will actually hear back. I would bet NOT. Yes, a good lecture to an entity who wants to pray on already challenged artists trying to make a few dollars is great bitter medicine. And you gave to them. Congratulations. Your dad would definitely approve. Good for you.
Thank you Sara for taking time in your day to warn artists of potential harm. There is power in numbers and if we all stick up to these scammers hopefully they will get tired of trying to prey. I’m not really sure if there are some artists that fall for it, I guess they must for this to continue. I would like to know who has and what they did about it in the end.
I had a man named Edward Smith contact me. All of his information seemed legit and I could tell he did go to my website because he had the exact name of the pieces, pricing and so forth. He even gave me legit info. The red flag, though, was payment and the questions he asked pertaining to it. I just played along with him for a week or two just to jerk his chain a bit since he was trying to pull something over on me. Once I called the spade a spade, I never heard back from him.
This very thing also happens with internet galleries and art contests “online”. Just image if the entry fee is $30 – $50 and over 1000’s of artist enter…that’s a good chunk of money. And they promise to put you in their online catalog. It’s a game and they are winning. My suggestion is to not enter any contests of this nature to stop them…it gets the artist NO WHERE! If you want to enter contests, make sure you know the organization and usually its not online. Buyers still want to see, touch, feel (so to speak) what they buy…that is why I believe in galleries. I have a very user friendly website with purchasing online but my sells come from the galleries not online. So there is the proof!
Again, thank you Sara. Your expertise and the wisdom of you and your Dad (God bless his soul) is very useful, helpful and on spot!
Thanks for the head’s up. I think this scheme is so obvious that only someone desperate would even read it all the way through.
I replied recently to a possible scammer (but I wasn’t certain) that I certainly could sell them a particular painting, but I needed to know soon that they were sure they wanted it or it was heading to a show. I also happened to mention that exact amount was needed on a check that has cleared before I can ship and no cashier’s checks. I said this all nicely, I thought, but oddly I never heard from the buyer again.
It’s iniquitous. I can’t tell you what I would like to do to them! A friend was thrilled to bits to get a similar email, believing it to be true. Fortunately she phoned me to tell me about it and I disillusioned her as gently as poss. She was very relieved not to have sent any money and/or to have signed up for ludicrous fees, but disappointed nevertheless of course. Some on-line ‘galleries’ do charge small listing fees – Etsy, an excellent showplace for artists and crafters, is I believe one – but that’s fine when the site, listing fee and commission on sales is clearly set out. This scam is the opposite – just wicked, pure and simple. Genuine, bona fide gallerists do sometimes contact artists whose work they would like to show – but always always always check them out before taking in paintings and go through the contract with a fine tooth comb. I prefer to sell direct from my studio or online as petrol costs or courier charges to galleries are so high and it means work that doesn’t sell quickly can be tied up for ages. But if it’s a top gallery or local to you, it’s well worth considering them.
Scammer-predators are everywhere. When they tire of trying to scam artists, they turn to Little Old Ladies who they pepper with calls about their delinquent IRS payments, their overdue property taxes with a pitch to sell their properties, their expiring auto warranty, and their renegade Microsoft accounts.
You’ve written a great email which we should all cut and paste.
And, create your own Scammer-Slam for phone calls. Include some or all of the following:
1. The IRS doesn’t make phone calls;
2. I have Apple, not Microsoft;
3. Will you really write an auto warranty for a 1998 Honda?
4. My house is not for sale;
5. I’m a lawyer. Are you?
Best regards to all,
Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian