Normally, I like to focus on the positive and provide useful resources for artists. In this instance, I’m writing about an ongoing negative encounter with a strange artist to illustrate how NOT to contact anyone! This a real-life case study with the artist’s name changed to Joe Blow.
- It all started one day when I received a very casual first ever email from a stranger. Here it is in its entirety–typos and odd commas included:
“Hi Marie, How was your Holiday? Please let me know more about Resources. The copyright alliance team, told me about you.. Im a auther for the visual arts.. talk soon..Joe Blow”
My Notes: I don’t know who he is referring to by “copyright alliance team.” This email, from someone I don’t know and never heard of, is a bit strange, spammy, and with so many typos and no link to his site I’m wondering if this is a fake email account. I should probably just delete the email. But then feel I should give him the benefit of the doubt and reply to be polite. So I optimistically reply: “Dear Joe, Thank you for your email. Are you an artist? Plz send me a link to your site so I can find out more about you and your work.”
Joe Blow’s 2nd email: “Hi Marie, How are you?? Do you mean a website? Mine is a graphic creation.. 80’s rock hits theme.. logo design.. all original, including the electric guitar. I know about cafe press. have not got a shop set up yet.. I have heard about licensing agents.. Hoping to make a connection sometime soon……..Joe”
My Notes: Again, no art images, no link. I decide to reply with several of my own links to make my point. My email: “Ok Jim. Not much I can do or suggest unless I view images of your art. I don’t recommend Cafe Press. There are hundreds of other high quality sites for artists. Here are some links: Artist Print Sales Sites and Resources here, Transmedia Artist Guide to Making Artist Submissions ebook via PayPal here, Art Magazines e-list: http://selz.co/1AbjqlA , Art Licensing http://selz.co/1Gb0HdY , 1,100+ Places to Sell Your Art (buy on Selz with credit card or via PayPal option) http://selz.co/1GaWqHx ”
Joe Blow’s 3rd email: “Ok Marie, Sent a email to Dean guitars, there marketing and pr department.. There busy this time of year… So I would need to buy the book, for contacting agents?? Have you heard of Aiga, organization?? Joe”
My notes: What is he talking about? Still no link? I have no idea who this person is or what he wants. No good dead goes unpunished. This is what I get for trying to be nice! I delete his emails.
Joe Blow’s 4th email: “Have a few books at home. One was the licensing 101 book. Artist and graphics designers guide.. might be outdated… I have a very tricky design.. The music and art together… Joe”
My Notes: Again, I make no reply to Joe’s email. He has ignored my requests for a link. If he really is an artist he shows no confidence in his work and no understanding of professionalism. This is his 4th email (I only relied to his first 2 emails). He is difficult to deal with and shows no respect for my time.
My notes: I understand that artists are sensitive and that it can be difficult for them to reach out. While I am also sensitive to artist’s needs I am not a therapist or a whipping post. Joe Blow was dishonest with me and himself. If he’d been honest it would have all gone differently.
What Joe did wrong –from my point of view–is that he made his approach too casual. At the very least he should have used his spell-checker before sending his emails. His extensive misspellings and typos claiming that he was an “auther (sic) for the visual arts,” without naming one magazine or blog where I might read his articles made me suspect that I was dealing with a fake account. (There are millions of fake accounts on Facebook alone.) He should have provided some proof of his identity, such as a link to an article or social media account, in his very first email, to establish credibility and invoke confidence in his statements. On top of his poor email approach, he telephoned me without asking my permission or stating that he’d like to talk with me on the phone. If he had mentioned a conversation, I would have given him an hourly rate for a consultation. Why did he cold call me on a Friday night?! Did he think we were dating?! His Friday evening call and manner made me think that he had one way or one state of mind for speaking to any and all women. Was he trying to start a personal relationship with me or discuss business? Friday evening is not a time to make a cold call. Plus he did not handle the call professionally. He failed to introduce himself right away and tell me why he was calling, again demonstrating his lack of self-confidence. During this very odd and unexpected call Joe referred to my email offer to review his work as a “promise” that he seemed to be accusing me of failing to keep my “promise.” My reply to his first odd email had been an act of kindness and generosity on my part, which he seemed to have misconstrued. Joe should have thanked me for my offer to review his work. He seemed to misunderstand my two very brief email replies. Is Joe an unbalanced personality? The signs are there. At the very least he’s going though a difficult time and is creating blocks for himself. I know that someone like Joe would be too difficult to work with. Perhaps, in future, he will learn and grow. I wish the best for Joe Blow.
Image “Aged Santa Adjusting Camera Lens Before Click” courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Lots Of Luck On Phone Displays Good Fortune” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Young male talking over phone” Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net