Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Unintentional Victim
Let me start by saying I love the internet! Artists and designers are no longer geographically limited. We have an infinite audience available to admire the fruits of our labor. As always though, universal Balance means that there is an equally infinite opportunity to get hornswoggled. Sometimes the cons come to us and sometimes our own enthusiasm does most of the work for the "bad guys."
By this time, I hope you've all become well-versed in the procedure or hitting "Delete" instead of "Reply" when you get an email, usually through your website. The text is something on the order of this:
"My name is XXX from XXX. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website
on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work, I'm also impressed and amazed
to have seen your various works too, : ) You are doing a great job. I would like to receive
further information.... "
There may be some mention of shipping to a foreign country, money orders, etc etc. There is 0 chance that this is real. Do not reply. Let your website host know you're being phished.
More insidious are companies that offer some service - print or produce on demand - but do not have the artist/designer's best interest at heart. There are well-established sites like Zazzle, Cafe Press, Redbubble and others that are clear, straightforward and have proven track records of being fair. There are others that are clearly not so honest in their business dealings. How do you tell the difference? DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!
The very first thing you should do is read the contract/sales agreement. A couple of months ago, I received a series of emails from a certain newcomer to the print/product on demand scene. They wanted to offer my designs on high-end garments and fashion/home accessories. Their website looked beautiful and the basic info all looked pretty good. I'm a suspicious old bird though and asked them to send me a copy of their contract (it wasn't on their site). They sent it. I became more incredulous as I read on. I'm not a lawyer, but I seriously could not believe anyone would sign such an agreement. I read every tiny word and realized that there were no safeguards whatsoever for the artist/designer.
Caveat Emptor. Buyer beware and in this case YOU are basically buying a service. Do not commit to anything before you read all the fine print and if you aren't sure things are fair, pony up and hire a lawyer to read through the contract. Do not let your enthusiasm override your common sense.
The original post ended here, but on Monday, a blog I subscribe to, the Art Licensing Newsletter by Annie Troe, had a really interesting article on this very subject, (and, indeed, about the same company I reference above) written by MJ Bogatin (“Bo”), an Arts & Entertainment attorney from Bogatin, Corman & Gold in San Francisco. Mr Bogatin and Ms Troe gave me permission to link to it and it is definitely worth a read: Click HERE to see Mr. Bogatin's article.