Hey guys! If you’ve been online pretty much ever, you’ve probably seen a scammer in action. But did you know there are scams specifically targeting artists and creatives?
I have personally encountered some of these scams and they can be very difficult to identify. I created this post in order to share them with you so you don’t fall prey to them.
Scammers are always coming up with new ways to take your money or intellectual property, so I’m sure this list will be outdated as soon as it’s published. However, I’ve also provided some tips on how to weed out a scam if you think you’ve encountered one.
Ways to Identify a Scam
It’s always exciting as an artist when people reach out to you and recognize your talent. Many people and companies prey on this and find ways to disguise their scams as “opportunities” for artists.
Read every e-mail or message thoroughly. If the language and grammar is very poor and sentences don’t make sense, it’s likely not worth your time and could even just be an automated message.
Whenever you are approached by a person or company find out as much as you can about them before proceeding. Google the company, and read reviews about them on websites like Better Business Bureau. Ask friends or other artists if they have experience with this company. If you can’t find anything about them online that’s usually a red flag.
When a company sends you an offer or contract, thoroughly read the fine print because there could be a catch. If you have to spend any of your own money up front, it’s probably a scam.
Always consider what’s in it for them. Why are they interested in you and your art? What do they get out of the partnership? Not to say your art isn’t good, but no one works for free or without motive.
Here are some common scams for Artists to watch out for
- Companies reaching out to you for a “media feature” – Don’t waste your time. You will later learn you have to pay upwards of $5000 for this feature that probably doesn’t reach your target audience at all.
- People asking to “collaborate” only to get free content from you, such as a photo of yourself using their product. Unless it is a big company which aligns with your brand, don’t give away your content for free.
- Someone asking to use your art for their website or logo. Be very wary and do your research before sending them anything. Do not give it to them for free either. At least create some sort of contract saying they cannot re-sell your art and only use it for a specific purpose so you could take legal action if needed.
- People asking for free art or products in exchange for a social media shout-out. I strongly encourage you never to give your art away for free. If the person is a legitimate social media influencer they probably would not be approaching you.
- Amateur art shows that are paid for by the artists. These art shows sound exciting but you should not be forced to sell tickets or pay to fund the show yourself. Always research the company, read reviews, and consider what they are getting out of it.
- So-called “gurus” trying to you sell you expensive courses to “help your business”. Some of them ask for $20,000 or more! Don’t give up your life savings for the same things you can learn online for free.
- People asking to buy your artwork, but want to pay through non-traditional payment methods. ONLY accept payment through Paypal, Cards or E-transfer. Do not accept cheques. Never send files or ship art until after you’ve received payment and it’s in your bank account.
- Sellers ripping off your designs to sell on websites like Amazon, AliExpress, TeeSpring etc. Google the keywords of your most popular works every few months to see if it shows up on websites that are not your own. Then submit take-down notices.
Have you ever been scammed or encountered an artist-specific scam? Leave your experience below for others to learn from!