Monday, August 14, 2006

everyone wants my money


...which would make sense if I had any. As it is, I'm at the mercy of a generous spouse who makes me clean toilets in exchange for the time/space to create Frankenstein's artwork in the basement, so why come after me?

On Saturday at the art walk I was approached by a smarmy, deep-voiced guy handing out cards to all the artists who'd succumb to his siren call. I have always had a sixth sense about the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing type, which may be because I learned before I was out of diapers that what one is promised and what one actually gets have a nebuolus relationship at best. Take the guy who tried to sell me a vacuum cleaner when I was in my third or fourth year at university. I was living in a miniscule studio apartment, trying to make ends meet (and tuition) through student loans and a series of slave-wage jobs, but I agreed to have him demonstrate his Speed Queen because I actually needed the knife set. When he got to the point where he put a bag on his head, connected by a second hose to the Interior Sanitation System ("it's so much more than a vacuum cleaner!") so that he could dry his hair while vacuuming, I had to let him go before I burst a blood vessel. He even pulled the "you can take 10 years to pay it off and I have five kids at home to feed" routine. Seriously. It was an eye-opening (and highly entertaining) moment for me as to how far the exploited will go to exploit the exploitable. I have enough compassion that I felt sorry for him, but it was clear that the only thing on my menu was peanut butter sandwiches, so what was he thinking?

Which brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves: exploitation of the vulnerable. A former friend used to come over here and wax poetic about how he loved dogs and tell me the names he'd chosen for all the children he wanted to have, then kick the dog under the table and literally withold candy from the baby. It's salesmanship by bullies. Smarmy, deep-voiced guys showing up at art walks, telling desperate artists how gifted they are and how well he can market them without even mentioning the costs involved is like selling fear-mongering statistics and then bogus insurance policies to the elderly. You can sell rhinestone necklaces and call them diamonds to millionaires in Vegas every day and I'd call it a good day's work, but selling false hope or security to the vulnerable makes for seriously bad karma.

I was curious about what SDVG had to say, though, and actually wanted to know the price for digital scanning of images as that's useful to me, so I gave him my card and waited to see what would happen. Meantime, I looked at his website and discovered that he promises artists the moon and stars and says absolutely nothing about fees ~ or his commission. The website is cleverly dressed up to look like a gallery site, i.e. a place to sell art, not a place to exploit artists. He must have a huge amount of success selling his 'art services' (marketing, websites, printing services) to the vanity market (primarily retired folk trying to carve out a second career as artists ~ and since I was probably the third youngest person out of 18 artists on Saturday, he'd obviously lucked into his target market) because he didn't even bother to look at my website before ringing me up. He actually tried to sell his inflated web services to me before I told him that he might want to take a closer look at my card. You could almost hear the Homer Simpson moment when he called up my site on his computer. It may seem hard to fork over the standard 50% sales commission to reputable bricks-and-mortar galleries who, after all, take your work on a consignment basis, but they do all the marketing, post your work on their website, etc., at no charge. But to think there are artists out there who are vulnerable enough to pay serious cash up front for all of that with no actual physical display space, and have SDVGs take a cut, too, is just sad.

After that I got a call from the real estate agent who knows that we're looking to move. What he had for me was a newly-listed house that I already knew about, of the wrong size in the wrong neighbourhood for way too much money. Do I really look as blond as all that?

I think I'll leave that one 'til tomorrow, when the PMS has passed.

16 Comments:

Blogger susan said...

calm down dear. it will pass.
:-)
then you will get old like me and experience menopause. which let me tell you, like old age ain't for the faint of heart.
hugs,
susan

14/8/06 8:53 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

I really hope the karma thing gets people like that.

There are a few other people I'd like to see dealing with some karma, as well.

14/8/06 9:13 PM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

At least you got your Homer Simpson moment out of him. Was his name John D'oh! by any chance?

14/8/06 10:38 PM  
Blogger Bibi said...

That's one of my pet peeves too. There are too many folks making money selling 'hope' ... I should say false hope. Hope your week gets better ;-)

14/8/06 11:48 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

It is sad to think of the traps some people fall into.

Hope your day gets better.

15/8/06 3:09 AM  
Blogger Sheri Burhoe said...

People really need to be aware.There are so many scams ! This is a little off track but,I get upset when people call ask me to do surveys and such over the phone.Very upsetting ! They are taking advantage of people who are kind hearted and can't say no.It's sad but this is life and people need to be aware and learn how to detect these things and be able to deal with them.

15/8/06 5:32 AM  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Parasites. But that hoover demo sounds funny.

Pretty freesias x

15/8/06 12:22 PM  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

I know exactly the guys you're talking about. I used to sell my art at the Portland Saturday Market and I met various incarnations of smarmy rep types. I am naturally distrusting, luckily. I did look up one guy's site and saw he represents an artist I love and know is very successful, but I don't think he was the artist's sole representation. Your artwalk sounded interesting -- I think I COULD live on blueberries and icecream for a day! I'll try it as an experiment and see, hee hee. (blueberries are one of my favorite things, and icecream, well, you know)

15/8/06 3:42 PM  
Blogger kj said...

andrea, your cackles are riled (??!) probably because of the injustice involved in taking advantage. when i see that, i want to do something. that said, i can't help thinking of willie loman (sp?) in death of a salesman: he just couldn't do any better than he did...

i had the good fortune to develop and manage an artisian cooperative in provincetown the last few years-not fine art, but glassblowers and jewelers and furniture makers and photographers and mixed media, etc.
the model we used was that members paid $ 100 month and got 90% of their sales. (they also worked in the shop 2-3 days/month).

i'm very proud of the co-op because it's now 4 years old and going strong.

which reminds me: do you know of provincetown? it is a special creative place....

:)

15/8/06 6:16 PM  
Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

DOH!
Sounds to me like you passed up the perfect opportunity to excercise the raging PMS exemption clause now in effect for cases involving justifiable homicide of annoying assholes that is now part and parcel of our fabulous forward thinking judicial system.

15/8/06 7:57 PM  
Blogger Within Without said...

You're simply way too smart for 'em, Andrea. Good on ya.

I'd liked to have seen the expression on his face (the vac salesman OR the weekend hoodlum).

Or, for that matter, the real estate numbnuts.

15/8/06 8:22 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Susan: Shall I start doing my training exercises now? (will pushups do? :)

Sally: A friendly neighbour perchance?

Kyknoord: There was definitely an unspoken 'd'oh!' hanging in the air, but I can't tell if he was in the john or not... (very feeble, I know :(

Bibi and Toni: It wasn't that bad -- sadly, I'm a sucker for dramatic effect.

Sheri: I totally agree. I've lost the patience to be polite with them I'm afraid.

Cherry: I didn't even exaggerate with the hoover demo! (and I've been known to...)

Laini: I have eaten blueberries daily for a month now and ice cream is on my top ten list, so I managed... :)

KJ: Is that kind of like my hackles being raised? :) I totally agree with the artist's co-op model and though I've heard of Provincetown as an artist's haven, that's all I know of the place. Do you live there?

HE: What?!? A *legal* excuse for bad behaviour? Where do I sign up?

WW: The hoover guy and the art leech are disposable, but I still have to work with the real estate guy. :(

15/8/06 9:58 PM  
Blogger The Daring One said...

I'm still learning on the sleezy salesman/agent thing. Writers and artists both get it and I'm seriously inexperienced at the business side of things.

16/8/06 10:19 PM  
Blogger Jana Bouc said...

What I want to know is what about the amazing photo? Is it doctored in Photoshop or as you saw the flower? It's really stunning!

17/8/06 11:48 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Jana: It's been cropped and sharpened a bit, but it is exactly as I saw it. The light and the sprinkler were just right and this is the best of several shots.

18/8/06 8:23 AM  
Blogger muddy red shoes said...

yee haa, long live PMT and the terrible truth that it ravishes the world with, without our bountious hormones we are all way too nice and therefor pray to those desperate devious nasty folk. Love the hoover bag on head image!

19/8/06 3:16 AM  

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