A little while ago I received an inquiry from a potential customer, with a “regular name” not under a pseudonym, asking me whether painting x and painting y were still available and if I could tell “her” more details. “She” was expecting an urgent reply. So far everything seemed to be okay although I found the “urgent reply” a little bit pushy.

I wrote back that painting x was still available, painting y not. I also asked what details “she” wanted to know as I did not want to overwhelm  “her” with all kinds of stuff  “she” did not want to know. I don’t mind to deliver exactly what people want to know even if it takes several mails. “Her” email address was this time a different one but I did not get suspicious yet as most peole have several email accounts.

In the next email this person asked for confirmation of the price and size, expressed” her” intention to buy the painting and additionally “she” wanted to know what motivated me to create the painting. I wrote “her” the appropriate answer, asked “her” where “she” was located and offered “her” to waive the shipping costs in case “she” should be located in Europe. I also asked “her” to use my Etsy shop in case “she” wanted to purchase my painting.

The next email I received was telling me that “she” apparently did not receive my answer because of  “her”  having problems with “her” email account so I re-sent what I had answered before. In the meanwhile I became a little bit suspicious about all this being okay although I had no reason at all to doubt it yet but there was that little feeling in my gut…

The following email though fully arose my suspicions. With no word did “she” mention anything about what I had told  “her” about the painting. “She” did neither inquire about shipping costs and all that stuff you would like to know as a future customer. Instead  “she” told me a story about not being at home herself but visiting family in the UK, being in the middle of a big move and expecting a baby. “She” was supposed to be back in a few days.  “She” wanted me to send “her” my mailing address and telephone number so that “she” could inform “her” husband who was shutling between “her” home and South Africa and who apparently was organizing the move from the IT head office in Johannisburg in SA to New Jersey. “She” wanted then to forward my contact info to the shipping company who was supposed to move their belongings. The shipping company would send FedEx to my studio to pick up the painting and consolidate the whole move then.

Now I WAS sure that this all was false – a scam. I wrote back to “her” that if  “she” wanted to purchase my painting  “she” or “her” husband would have to do this via my Etsyshop only and that “she” would receive my address and phone number then and only then. I also told “her” that this was for “her” and my own safety because of all the scams out there. I would not let go of my work before the money was in my account.

I never received an answer back.

So what I am telling you here is that these scams are getting more and more perfidious. Using names and phrases like “FedEx” or “head office IT”   should make you feel safe. Telling you “personal things” like visiting family, husband and sister, expecting child etc. is appealing to your emotions and the personal tone should erase your doubts.

But YOUR COMMON SENSE SHOULD NEVER SLEEP!

Who on earth would buy art being in the middle of a move and short before giving birth? What sense does it make to add something to a shipment from one part of the world when stuff is shipped from a total different region of this planet to another? She did not react on my request to purchase through an official shop. Why? This should be much safer for the customer also. She did not mention how she was going to pay – or rather she did not even ask me about it. Apparently it adds to the trick to use a female name because somehow these people think that women are less supposed to be internet scammers. Well – we live in a male world – don’t we? But behind an email address anything could stand…

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Seems as if I am currently apologizing all the time to YOU, my dear readers. I know this is a lame excuse in the meanwhile and I feel truly sorry in case you visited my blog only to find still old posts. I promise this will get better again.

I still have 2 pigeons to care for quite intensely, have released Willy in the meanwhile, had another rescue but this was an easy case – just took days to catch the pij in order to free her from a stupid washing peg that was sticking to her toe. Can you imagine? A poor pijjie walking with those click-clack noises because of a washing peg on her foot? But this could have ended fatally in case she got stuck in some netting or any other filaments. Oh my – this never ends.

I was also busy with opening up an Etsy online store for my artwork to make it easier for you to purchase my work. As this is a trustworthy organization and selling platform I thought that this might be the best way to increase shopping safety especially for those customers who don’t know me yet. What is your opinion about this? Would be interesting for me to know.

My new little blog Art for Sophisticated Interior still serves as a gallery with many detail photos and a short story that goes with the work but I think many people still are reluctant to buy directly from a blog – applicable at least for those who come first time. It is always a good thing to have an independant organisation to watch over business issues in case you would have any complaints (what heaven may foreclose!).
This means that those works which are presented on this blog and which are labeled with the Etsy button can be purchased via Etsy. Of course you can purchase my work still also directly from me!

Click on the button and you will be led directly to my shop. Very easy.

I really hope you will love it and visit often. Unfortunately there are not many artworks in my shop yet – it will take time to fill it up. But I will do my best.

It is quite time-consuming to set up such a shop when you want to do it right and nice looking which is very important for me because it functions like a business card. Ha! They always say it is easy – and that is right – but they never tell you that it really takes time.

And on a last note: today is Mother’s Day.

For all of you out there who still have a mother – I lost mine last year and it is the second Mother’s Day now that I can do nothing else but lighting a candle, memorizing many little stories, her love, her care, her humour and laughter and the fun we had together. It is a sad day for me but I am also glad at the same time that there was nothing left to say.

How often does it happen that in times of a crisis where you leave bad words to someone you love you will not have enough time any more to get things right again. So all of you out there – if you still have a mother you love but could not be able to tell her so – just do it before it might be too late. It can happen any minute and you will regret it.

This is for you Mom – I love you so much!

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Selling through the Internet is nothing new any more and for many artists this works perfectly for small works while adding a simple Paypal button.

I thought that this might work for me too although I don’t sell small works but rather bigger ones. Nevertheless I think it is a good idea to have my work condensed at one place, without too much schnick-schnack around it, too much text and discussions – simply easy to find, easy to scroll through lots of detail photos and links if someone wants to know more about it.

There is still a website to show all the recommendations, publications and exhibitions which are proof enough for the quality of my work. These can easily be checked in the internet where you don’t have access to sites, texts etc. in order to manipulate one’s reputation although today probably anything could be manipulated.

In the end it is also fun to try something new and you know I never deny giving this a try. So if you have got time check this out:

Art for Sophisticated Interior

A Resource for Wood Carving, Painting and Textile Art

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The “Israeli Art Scam”

February 5, 2010

Please be aware that this article is not to be interpreted as antisemitic! It is just by accident that this is about fake “Israeli students”!

While I am doing research on the Internet it came into my mind that it might be a good idea to create a new series about art scams. Especially artist beginners tend to step into those traps which can result in costly mistakes. Not everybody is “blessed” with a certain basic suspiciousness but rather “punished” with a naive trust in people and would never think of organized betrayal.

I do not want to get into details about human weaknesses such as ego and vanities these people prey upon nor do I want to accuse good people’s good will to help others which is shamelessly exploited, being also the reason why these criminals will always find victims. It’s a shame! I am going to post just randomly what I find. You can decide what to do with it. Maybe the one or other story is new to you.

I stumbled across an incredible story in an article from the Calgary Sun published in 2009 that might not be new to you but if you haven’t heard about it yet it might be worth for you to read.

If it weren’t so disgusting to exploit again the kindness of people I would say this is really inventive. I am amazed again and again about the criminal energy some people seem to inherit without end:

“Gillian Butler suspected she was being scammed by a con artist, who claimed to be an art student from Israel.

Still, the Cochrane woman fell prey and spent $360 for a pair of reproduced canvas paintings, because she wanted to help impoverished students supposedly on an exchange program to Calgary from Israel. ” Continue to read here

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A similar story was published in 2006 by the Star News Group with a slightly different touch:

“BERWICK and Pakenham residents may have unwittingly become embroiled in an international moneymaking art scam.
Over the past month young people passing themselves off as Israeli art students have been knocking on doors in the area offering original oil paintings at discount prices.

Berwick resident Melinda Cranston said the friendly appearance of an ‘Israeli art student’ who knocked on her door initially allayed any fears she had about inviting her in.
“A nice young girl knocked on the door with a folio of oil paintings. She looked harmless and said the paintings were for sale to help students at a university in Jerusalem,” said Ms Cranston.
“She said there was an exhibition opening in Sydney where the paintings would sell for $1500 to $3000, but she was happy for us to pay between $150 and $250.” Continue to read here

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These days I have come across following problem:

a customer wants to buy a print of one of my photos. The photos are detail shots of a public artwork, an iron statue by Eduardo Chillida, created in 1997, his last. What fascinated me so very much regarding this statue was the transformation of the iron surface into some magnificent rusty colours created by nature, wind, rain, sunshine etc. with a very subtle pattern. I have processed and enhanced these photos digitally to emphasize the beauty of a rusty surface.

Can I sell these prints legally or would this be copyright infringement? I mean these are my own original photos but of an artwork by someone else. What is the legal regulation of such an issue?

 

Through the help from WetCanvas I am answering this myself: I am not going to sell these prints as I might run into troubles. So if anyone else runs into the same question – check out these links which have been provided by WetCanvas forum members:

Who owns public Art? by Kelly Kleiman

The Public’s Right to look? by Joshua Kaufmann

If you should know about more articles which describe this problem please let me know – thank you!

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In January I received a letter that read like this:

“Hello Petra!
I think that this painting is one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen. I really don’t think that enough people in our world appreciate the beauty and complexity of a nautilus. The only artwork I can find of them is either paintings of their empty shells, or artwork that is actually made up of their shells! 😦

I was wondering if you would be offended if I were to use a printout of your artwork as a rough base for my tattoo? I swear to you, I would buy it if I could, but I barely have the 300 dollars it will cost to get the tattoo, though your painting is very reasonably priced. I’m just a kid with no money. 🙂 I wouldn’t want to rip off your art without asking you for it, but I find it so amazing! I want it to be a part of me forever. So would you be very bothered by this? If so, I would never touch it. But if not, I would really really appreciate it.”

The art piece she was talking about was this one:

nautilus1

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My answer to her was this:

Dear…,

first – thank you very much for your compliment on my painting. Regarding copying my painting for a tattoo I am afraid I must say “no”. Please consider this: the painting is an original and the person who is going to buy it wants to have an original, a unique painting. It would be unfair to give away the image for other purposes. I have to work hard for a living and paying the bills. It is not easy. How would you feel if someone asks you to give away part of your income just because s/he loved something so much s/he could not afford her/himself?
Also – even if you had bought the painting – you would not be allowed to use the image for a tattoo (copyright) unless you bought a licence for it if the artist would be ready to sell a licence. Just for your information.

I am really sorry to have to tell you this. If I could paint just for fun it would be a different issue. But I have to earn money for my bills as everyone has to do. I hope you will understand this.

Kind regards,
Petra

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Now the tonus of the next answer I received from this person became really nasty:

“Well Petra, the thing is, if you search the internet or any common tattoo magazine, there are many people with recreations of famous artwork on their bodies. Be it the Mona Lisa, or Van Gogh’s starry night. There are also thousands of brand name tattoos: i.e. Cadillac, Hello Kitty. It is actually not against the law to use someone’s artwork in a tattoo. Most tattoos are not original artwork. How would a tattoo artist make a livelihood if he could not give people what they ask for? It’s not like me, or any of these people are trying to profit off of your artwork. Like, “I show off the tattoo I got of your painting for a living now. People crowd around to see it.”
I was simply asking you to use your painting AS A BASE (not copy it) because I couldn’t find any better ones at the time. But currently, I have contacted another artist whos nautilus actually has a lot more depth and detail than yours. Your nautilus actually looks quite muted in comparison. This artist has jumped at the chance that millions of people will get to view her artwork on a regular basis. I find it unfortunate that I was so polite to someone who is clearly your standerd, internet-sales based, starving to death artist who is actually pigheaded enough to think that her artwork is worth fighting for. You clearly just need the money.
Good luck.”

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I did not answer to this any more.
The point of this all and why I am posting it here is that I am really angry about the fact, that always artists are thought to be the ones to have to “donate” their work, be it for a private purpose, be it for charity or any other support. What is it that artists have on their forehead:

hey folks, I am not worth to be paid for because I’m only a sucker, hey guys you can taka ma work for free – it’s of no use anyway – I don’t need to eat and pay for my rent…

Everybody is being paid for her/his work (unless you really have another income and can work on voluntary basis). We all know what we have to pay a lawyer, doctor or any other consultant for their hourly efforts. A whole lot of money even – not just pocket money.
Some time ago I asked an interior company for permission of using one of their photos as a backdrop for a post on my blog, a tiny image from the internet with a bad resolution even. In return I offered them links back to their company, mentioning on my blog – we all know what advertising is worth – they wanted me to pay 95 bucks for one image! Well – I said thank you – no thank you! So why for heaven’s sake am I supposed then to give my work away for free?

In the case above with the tatoo, a “kid” wrote me, telling me she had no money to buy my painting – but she had 300 bucks for a tatoo. Besides all the silly things she said, I found out that she was going to use this tatoo professionally – i.e. that another “tatoo artist” wanted to make money with an original design by me but I was supposed to “donate” that design. How stupid did she think I am?

Besides the issues of copyright infringement she would step into – because buying a painting does not mean that you can do with it what you want – the whole argumentation was childish and immature of course. Too many contradictions which I do not want to discuss here.

The main hook (the story itself is more or less marginal) is the issue with the donations from artists and the common expectation of the public that especially artists are supposed to donate their work (I was naive enough to have done this a couple of times – some of those donations I regret deeply because I fell into the common traps – some of those I do not regret – they really did achieve what they were supposed to).

Maybe someone could explain to me why this is – I mean – why are artists specifically supposed to donate their time, work and money?

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In my opinion one of the best promotion tools for your art is sending professional e-cards. Sharing your art and inspiring your artist friends, family and/or other people sending a nice and elegant e-card may help to make a miserable day get better. Nice images always help to heal the soul.

A couple of my silk paintings are now included in the gallery of a new Canadian company, called Nova Terra Galleria and can be sent as an e-card greeting from now on.
Click on the link below – this will lead you to the company’s side and to my gallery of paintings which are available right now. You can choose any painting you like including choosing a stamp.

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click to send an art-e-card - novaTerraGalleria.com

click to send an art-e-card - from novaTerraGalleria.com

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Wish you fun with it!!!