The Gift of Art Scams

Disappearing.jpg 'Disappearing'. Little Gems Series. 9" x 12" Mixed Media on Loose Canvas. Original Available. genuine inquiries, no scammers, please. :-)

I get a lot of frequent scam "inquiries" for the purchase of my art.  I know for a fact that a number of my artist friends get them too, that's what I love about social  media sharing, we talk, so scammers be aware!

The email art inquiries have a number of 'red flags' that always tell me that it's going to be bogus and end up going nowhere. A potential trap to extort money. To start its usually a man: Tayor, Hank or Jim, some name like that.

Secondly, they often have a great catchy story to get the unaware artist excited... could be something like "My wife and I were looking at your website and I am planning to get her a piece of your artwork as a surprise gift..." Or, I've had this one so many times it makes me laugh; "I'm a marine biologist away at sea looking at purchasing some of your artwork to ship to....."

Last week I had one guy send me consecutive emails about how he was looking through the art at home with his wife on the sofa and getting excited to buy her something, then a few emails later he was going to be away at sea working as a marine biologist... Still looking to purchase my artworks. OMG. You're Kidding right?!

I think these guys must take an online course somewhere entitled "How to extort money out of artists." The adjective appearing before artist could be naive/stupid/gullible, etc. They sign up and are then probably given scripts on how to approach us. They get told they will get rich doing this. Just a guess here.

The third red flag  is that they are usually from some far away country like Tunisia or Lithuania or some exotic place you've never heard of.

The final kicker red flag is that they alway have their own shipping company. So they will send you the money and take care of the arrangements.This part is a big deal for them. They are so attached. I think the online course has a whole pack of scripts on this one with details about it that go on for pages, let me tell you.

But here's the thing that keeps me laughing the whole while I read these emails. The focus of the inquiry is ALWAYS on the shipping. Sometimes they even forget to mention what art pieces of yours that they want or like !!! They just keep focussing in on the shipping, shipping, shipping. It's the biggest tip off.

As a side note, last summer I even received a Bank of America USD cheque from one of these shipping-obsessed fanatics to my P.O. Box. It just felt wrong and it was wayyyy more money than the cost of the paintings he'd inquired about. I actually took the cheque to a local bank to ask if it was legit, but they said they had no way to know unless I cashed it. I decided to shred it and moved on.

Don't get me wrong. I love money and receiving it especially for doing what I love. And I truly, absolutely, love selling my artwork to appreciative collectors. But, I would choose to not make a sale over involving myself with something that is not legitimate.

But, you are asking me, what are the possible benefits of these pesky email inquiries? How can this be positive? Ah, my friend, so glad you asked. We resourceful creative types can always find and use everything to our advantage -  if we so choose!

The gifts of these scammers for me was going back to my website and ensuring that every art piece is labeled - sold or available. (If any are missing those labels, pls do let me know!) Then the potential collector can check for themselves if they are really interested in a piece.

I also got crystal clear on my pricing scheme for ALL my works, which is logical and based on painting size. I made a .pdf document with that size and pricing information, updatable for each year if I choose to increase my prices. So anyone inquiring about my artworks gets emailed this document and we're all clear on what art is available - check website - and what price it is - look at size, look up correlated price. Now that feels good.

The other gift of these interactions was developing a clear written payment policy and shipping policy. (again a .pdf doc which is emailed to inquirors). I have shipped paintings to Germany, Boston and Los Angeles with great success using both USPS, Canada Post, Fed Ex and UPS. My favourite is Fed Ex because I ask the client to set up a shipping account, they give me the number and when I go to the Fed Ex outlet, the shipping is simply billed directly to the customer. I'm guessing UPS does the same. Easy and effective. Tried and true.

So, thank-you scammers, for helping me get clear on my policies, prices, and what I am willing and not willing to do and be as a  professional working artist. I have learned I value true connection, integrity, kindness and prefer to work with those that do too.