Watch out for these SCAMS

This week, I want to talk about an important and unfortunate topic for every fine artist – scams. Whether you're dealing with traditional art sales or navigating the world of NFTs, there are certain warning signs to watch out for. 

Scams in the art world exist in every corner. From fake buyers to fabricated events and more recently - NFT scam. Artists need to be extra vigilant. In this video, we'll highlight some of the most common scams and share tips on how to protect yourself.

The first classic scam on our list is the "Art Purchase" scam. You receive an email from someone expressing interest in buying your artwork. It seems like a dream come true, but not always. The scammer's goal is to convince you to either ship the art before payment or to overpay you so they get some cash back before anyone notices. The nice thing about this scam is that it has been around for a while and is pretty easy to recognize.

Some signs that the person asking to buy your art is a scammer:

  • First - the email is poorly written. If their communication is filled with misspellings or grammar mistakes this is your first indication that its a scam
  • Second - there’s often an elaborate story involved and it usually has to do with an upcoming anniversary or special occasion and they want to surprise their wife because they’ve seen her look at your website and she loves your art. Vague Third - the buyer wants to arrange his own shipping for the art, but wants to overpay you for the art/shipping and have you give the difference in cash to the courier at pick-up. Scam, scam, scam.
  • Don’t even bother emailing these guys back. 

The second kind of scam I want to talk about is the "NFT Listing" scam. As NFTs have gained popularity, scammers are taking advantage of artists who are eager to enter the digital marketplace. You might receive an offer to list your NFT in a prestigious collection for a fee. However, these offers are hardly ever in your best interest, and the promised exposure is just a facade.

Some signs you are being scammed are High Listing Fees, obscure listing platforms, and pressure for you to pay the listing fees quickly.

One tip I have to majorly cut down on the requests for NFT sales on Instagram is to change your account settings so that only your followers can comment on your posts. I don’t think I’ve gotten a single NFT request since making that switch.

All right. The third scam I want to talk about is the exhibition fee scam. Artists are sometimes targeted with invitations to participate in exhibitions, and all they need to do is pay a fee. But you should know -  legitimate galleries and events typically don't solicit artists to participate. Often these galleries are what we refer to as vanity galleries where pretty much anyone can show their work if they pay enough money. And as exciting as it might be to have your work in a gallery, this is really a scam because a vanity gallery doesn’t have any invested interest in selling your work. They don’t have a loyal audience of collectors. They make their money by charging you, the artist, to hang your work in their space. That is not a good use of your money.

And finally I want to talk about the new scam I am seeing a lot of which I’ll call the Instagram DM scam. In this scam the person DMs you through Instagram and tells you how much they love your work and would like to commission a piece. These conversations feel VERY real, so it usually takes me a while to figure out there is something strange going on. The clues I have picked up on that this is a scam are 1) The person does not want to take the conversation to email, and ignores requests to do so. 2) The person has not looked at my website to see what work is available. The last time I was talking to a scammer they wanted to commission a work exactly like a piece that was still available for sale on my website. When I asked if they’d just like to purchase that piece the conversation ended. 3) The person has complicated ways they want the transaction to take place.

So really, you just have to trust your gut with this one and try to move the conversation off of Instagram as soon as possible. I like to ask for photos of the person’s space, because if they’re not willing to send them - I know they’re not serious. And then stick to your process of payment and contracts, etc. 

Aside from this, just try to stay informed about the latest scams circulating in the art community and the digital space. Share information with your fellow artists and they’ll share with you. Its the best way we can protect each other. 

Alright, my friend, that wraps up this bummer of a topic. Just remember your art is valuable and there are plenty of REAL people out there who would be honored to own it. 

Thanks for being here!

All the best,


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