My scam story. This past week I managed to get my web site email working. An undiagnosed snafu led to months of thinking my site was not getting any response because the world out there is not interested in my work.
One of the first emails after I was able to access my response folder asked if a particular work was still available, and if it was could I pass on some info about it including cost ASAP because the prospective client was furnishing a new apartment.
I was thrilled to get a sign of interest right off the bat. I responded immediately with the particulars I’d been asked for. A quick reply back to me told me to consider my work sold. Would I please send my new client info about how I should like the sale to proceed. I replied with billing and shipping details. I got a further email asking me to hold off on the shipping because the client had his own shipper doing a series of things for him as he was in the process of moving – would I give him my address so that the shipper could arrange to pick up the work. I readily complied with the requested personal info, having had UPS and other shippers pick things up from my home before.
Yet another email from my new client asked me to help him out by taking a cashier cheque that he would send me, which would be for more than the artwork cost. He wanted me to give the overage to his shipper in order to get a series of movement shipments handled all at once. I asked for further details about this request but felt uncomfortable enough to send a copy of the email to my accountant and my lawyer asking them what my liability would be. I was concerned about being asked to pass money to a 3rd party when that money wasn’t mine. I wondered about taxes, legal liability, stuff like that.
I’m pretty naive. It wasn’t until a couple of hours after the latest client email that I decided to do a Google search of the name he had provided – Charles Phey.
I’d been led along by a scam artist. The unfortunate part for me is that in good faith I released my home address to him. The fortunate part is that he only got my cell number and home address. No artwork or money changed hands. The scammer was consistent enough in his scam that Google could feed me his name as soon as it occurred to me to ask for it.
In my profession there are degrees of honesty required by the artist and the audience in order to allow a real exchange to take place. If I don’t open myself up enough to make the work I do then I don’t have anything to really represent what I feel is important. The raw honesty of self expression coupled with the allied honesty of technique and ability are the elements that make or break my work. The audience needs to be honest in approaching my art. They cannot use their expectations of others as a filter or template to experience my work because they will only allow themselves to see varying degrees of their own expectation. That inward looking disallows the vision of the artist true rein. And that disallowing is a disservice to each part of the equation of artist and audience.
A scammer who feeds on the artist’s honesty by gaming them instead of dialoguing them is nothing but a sink. Unfortunately there are sinks aplenty in our world. We can only try to point out these pitfalls and negative places to each other, and maybe if we are willing to delve into that vile, sour place where scammers dwell we might pull up some artwork that has redeeming beauty or power. I’m not really interested in that place myself. In a way I understand the philosophy of Renoir, who wanted to make pretty things because he liked pretty things and the world can always use more pretty things. On the other hand I am willing to point out the ugly things. I’ll tell you about a scammer when I see one. Warn my fellow artists, warn my audience, and say to them please be honest. Please give your pure intent. And please accept that pure response in return. It makes room for beauty and adds to that valuable connection that is so human, so important, and so life-postive.