A word to the wise: beware of e-mailers claiming interest in your artwork.
I know all about scammers who try to buy your work using a Money Order or Certified Check. I know about scammers who promise to pay you MUCH more than what your product is worth. I know about scammers who steal your digital images for their own $ use. I know about scammers who claim to represent stores or galleries or art shows and want you to send your artwork to them for photography or prizes or advertisement.
Yes, I am wary. But a couple of weeks ago, I received the following e-mail from STEVEN PALLIN (probably not his real name):
Just moved into a new apartment did some search on-line and came across your.I am considering decorating the wall along the stair case with either a painting, ceramic or sculpture. The wall where the item will be hanged is already painted with my favourite coluor ( Cream ) so the displayed item have to be catchy. Am considering a price range of between $900- $1,500 for this commission.
Conversely, most appreciated if you send me a link to your website again or attach and send to me some of the images ( between 3-5 ) of work you may recommend so that i can choose. My address is 1017 Oneida st. Fort Wayne,IN 46805. Your swift response will be appreciated.
So the guy left his name, his address, and some detail of what he wanted. The red flags went up immediately: poor spelling, why would he need my website URL again? The only way he could get my e-mail address would be from the website URL. He mentioned prices up front before letting me know which piece he wanted.
So I attempted to qualify him as a bonafide customer by sending him an e-mail asking him to e-mail a picture of his space so I could better choose which of my sculptures might work best. I figured that a scammer wouldn't respond to questions, but he did and indicated he did not have a digital camera. He again asked me to send images of some artwork to his address. I sent another qualifying e-mail asking him to describe the types and colors of artwork he likes (e.g., figurative, landscape, bold colors, abstracts), again thinking he would give up if he weren't legit. But he responded something bright and figurative. So I sent him a couple of low-resolution images with the prices and sizes. He selected one of the artworks that I sent and asked what type of payment I took, to which I responded PayPal. He said he could only do a Certified Cashier's Check. WARNING! I responded that PayPal is all I could accept. I haven't heard from him since.
I have made many safe web sales over the years, but most of the smaller pieces on my website have PayPal "Buy" buttons that allow the customer to easily purchase what they want without my inervention. PayPal verifies their credit card and e-mails me the buyer's contact info so i feel confident that PayPal will deposit the purchase money into my bank account with no problems. Some people do not like PayPal, but bonafide customers would try to work with the artist regarding payment terms. Anyone who insists upon a Money Order or Cashier's Check as the only payment option is likely a scammer. So be careful.
This guy may have obtained my e-mail address from any number of sources. Since I have a new Facebook account, I decided to change my e-mail to something that I can easily identify as coming from Facebook, just in case scammers are using that means to work their dirty business. Be safe out there in the world wide web.