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Old 04-20-2012, 01:09 PM
artyczar
 
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Art Biz Horror Stories

You know you have some. Let's post some of them here and share/vent/laugh it off. I have quite a few.

I've been asked by a few members to start this thread after what transpired in the "Horrible Artist's Mentor" thread, which I think would be the Grand Master of horror stories. Consider this thread a continuation of these kinds of situations where we have had to deal with nut-jobs along our complicated path.

I'll be composing some of mine in a little while....
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:49 PM
artyczar
 
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

Years ago (I was 20-something) I was introduced to an ex-real-estate-broker-turned-fine-art-publisher. She was best known for being the former rep behind a young female artist that "channeled" Picasso. In the early 90's. By the time I got to her, she had already been in some kind of lawsuit over that whole thing (I don't remember the details though) and was starting a publishing company. At first, she seemed excited about my art and really wanted to "help." She said she did not understand my work, but was, "really drawn to it for some reason or another." She said she even surveyed her clients to determine the "commercial value" of my work.

I spent months writing about myself because she had me convinced that in the "real world" art cannot sell itself. It was the story behind the artist that got people to like art. This, she explained, was how she cleverly marketed the mini-Picasso, by creating hype and provoking controversy - never mind the talent of the little girl who had already painted more canvases than most artists do in a lifetime. She later alluded to the idea that this girl did not paint all the work herself.

But before all this, she made my future seem like a magical fantasy, as if she had some mysterious power to make me very successful. I was terrible at selling my own work. I'd like to say it was a short-lived lesson, but it was drawn out over several months. She had me pumped after every phone conversation, like a football star getting pep talks from a coach. She was coaching me on everything about my entire art career and I got sucked in like a fool. She advised me to raise my prices and paint quicker. I had to prepare myself for success, and this meant being in a chronic state of urgency. It was like a cult of one.

Then I was instructed to go and get a real gallery show at a Beverly Hills gallery, "anywhere on Rodeo Drive". Those were my instructions. Okay, sure. No problem! Anywhere on Rodeo, as if I could waltz in with my notebook of photos, tattooed as I am, and request an exhibit. If I could get into a Beverly Hills gallery, why the hell would I need her help? But I was confused and controlled, and she gave me a contact name. She seemed to know the guy, so I figured a phone call wouldn't kill me.

When the gallery director heard who told me to contact him, he laughed and invited me to meet with him. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy. He didn't keep me waiting and he sat with me for a long time, looking through my portfolio, reading my statement, asking me questions. He was genuinely interested in my art. Then he told me about this woman I had been working with. She was universally despised for attaching the name of Picasso to the hand of that little girl. Eyeing the real Picassos, Miros and Chagalls on the walls of the gallery, I began to see what he meant. We ended up having a great talk about art and life there on Rodeo Drive, a place I clearly did not belong, and even though I would not be showing my art there, I was treated with respect and walked away feeling that it was time well spent and this man later hired me to write for a publication he became an editor for.

But back to the woman...

You'd think I'd be armed and ready for the final big meeting with her and her business partner, right? No, I'm much stupider than you think. I probably should not have driven out to the big Malibu mansion, but I was young and hopeful. After the security guard let me through the gate, I parked along side the 8-car garage. The house was ridiculously enormous. What is the point in anyone having a house that big? Don't answer that. The question just gives away my economic conundrum.

The two ladies greeted me with the infamous Los Angeles hug and two-inches-away-from-the-actual-face kiss. Her business partner seemed more like her sorority sister from days long passed. I could see them getting their nails done together, and I was certain that a small poodle would be involved on some level, and sure enough...

We brought my originals into the gym/office and set them up against the walls between some very large paintings of fish. The big canvases and made my little paintings look tiny. It was symbolic of the whole meeting, as if establishing who was the big fish and who was the guppy. Brandy was their main artist and had just signed a publishing contract. They spent the first half hour going on and on about how great Brandy's big fish were and how wonderful it was that her fish art was so big and fishy. It was all very great and big and wonderful. They didn't look at any of my art for more than 30 seconds, and the only question they asked was what medium I used. I told them oils and they looked at each other, baffled. They didn't know what kind of paint Brandy used. I had to tell them it was acrylic.

Finally they handed me a 15-dollar check in payment for one of my handmade art books, The partner sniffed, "That's an awful long way to drive for 15 dollars". I just stared at her, trying to gather what was left of my integrity, which was dwindling away as the meeting dragged on. They asked me how I sold my work and expressed disbelief that I was able to sell it at all. They continued to press for details on how I promoted myself, then patronized me, saying that I had "so much to learn." When I asked what I was missing, they didn't have an answer. They just looked at each other a lot and snickered. Apparently it was an unspoken, secret that only art dealers had access to.

The subject of contracts arose and they explained to me how they worked. The percentages seemed high (in their favor) but they insisted how very "helpful to the artist" it all was. The whole thing sounded terrible seedy, but then it really didn't matter because evidently they were not interested in representing me. Of course they saved that news for the very end of the meeting. So why tell me about the contracts in the first place?

I left the big house feeling like a worthless schlep. The humiliation was intense. I knew in the back of my mind that these women were just dirt, yet I couldn't help but feel like I wasn't even good enough for dirt. Why they brought me out there with my work was beyond me. I had to pull over to the side of the road so that I could cry into my fifteen dollar check.

Some months later, she had the nerve to call me again. She offered me an "opportunity" to give her commissions on the art I sold in cafes in exchange for putting up cards that read, "Represented by 'her name'." She felt that if I displayed her name and phone number instead of mine, it would make me look more professional, and sell what I "wouldn't have otherwise sold." I know it's hard to believe, but the opportunity didn't stop there. No, I was to also get a set of steak knives! As she described her offer, I learned that it was "even better than a 50/50 split." I would tell her what I wanted for each painting, and she would sell them for whatever she wanted and keep everything over my measly couple hundred bucks. "No thanks," I said. "I'd rather drill screws into my toes."
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:37 PM
AllisonR AllisonR is offline
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

OMG. You gotta laugh or you gotta cry. I suppose cry first. Laugh later. Have you tried googling them now? Just to see what they are up too? Or what prison they are in? A lot of court documents are public. I googled my ex a few years ago and I got a ton of stuff on his father going to prison for kickbacks. Nice.

My story. I was also 20-22. Just out of Art School in NYC. Went into a well known gallery in the art district, and had the b*lls (I think in hindsight mostly naiveté) to talk to the owner and ask him to look at my slides. Slides were the thing back then. He laughed and said sure. And then he was surprised by my work. I had some large works in very textural layers of color. I'd probably consider it immature now (don't have them anymore), but they were good for a 20 something year old. He said they were interesting, and asked his son to go home with me to see my paintings. I was psyched and my brain kept telling me "keep your cool." He asked how I made the paintings. He then talked about other artists, and said "So you want to be the next Andy Warhol?" to which I replied "NO (in a negative tone because I am not an AW fan), I want to be myself." Umm, wrong answer. He turned cold, asked me to leave and waved his hand at his son to stop (who had since put on his coat). I left confused. It was so fast I wondered what I had done. Several years later I found I had insulted him because he had really helped AW progress in the NYC art scene.

When I found out I was extremely angry with myself. I thought I had been handed a big chance and blew it before it even started. I became jaded about the whole art scene. My art is good, but not if I don't like the right people? I even made a slogan at one point which was "If you want to be a famous artist, you have to be white, male and dead. I've only got one of three and I'm not willing to cut off my tits or commit suicide, so scr*w it."

But in the long run, that mistake was a useful learning experience. I need to do more homework before barging into a place. And I should be more careful in what I say. I tend to be blunt and honest, when sometimes I should be subtle. I am still working on that, but I am better. But I also have to just accept myself the way I am, honesty and all. And the most important lesson was my whole art does not rise and fall on this one occurrence. My art is part of me, all the rest is external inputs, which I may not have control over. It is the work, long and hard and steady and consistent, that makes me the artist that I am.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:23 AM
artyczar
 
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

I have tried googling them/her and "Brandy" and I have found absolutely nothing about them.

Your story is a tear-jerker too!

I have more stories, but I'd like some other people to post some too.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:23 PM
d-archer d-archer is offline
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

Whoa! Now those are some stories! Great thread idea!
I am the one who started the "Horrible Artist's Mentor" thread (to those of you just tuning in), which was my ultimate bad experience. Here is another one regarding my brother! He's just another example of those kinds of people we have to guard against at all costs if we want to make art our career.

My brother is older than me by almost 2 years and pretty much from day one I felt that he was not on my side. He relentlessly teased and demeaned me growing up. Looking back it really was what would now be called sibling abuse. It was psychological and emotional abuse. I could tell you a million stories. Every time I had a new interest, he'd find a way to tear it down. Complained about books I liked, movies I liked, hobbies I liked (I wanted to learn to play the piano and guitar and he always made fun of my playing.), you name it. He even made fun of my pets. Made fun of my friends. Always wanted to make himself out to be superior. Saying he's smarter than me, going to be more successful than me, etc. I wasn't allowed to talk to him at school because he didn't want other kids to know I was related to him. I started trying my hand at oil painting pretty young, and when he found out what I wanted to do, all he could say is that the smell better not be strong because he didn't want to breathe it in around the house. Never even the slightest word of support. My parents would tell me that I was just being "too sensitive" when I'd get upset over something he would say. For years in my teens, I pretty much gave up on art due mostly to my brother hurting my feelings. When I started creating art again and mentioned to him that I wanted to paint professionally, he expressed deep doubt and predicted that I'd just end up working as a professional grocery store cashier instead. What an awful thing to say. My parents were supportive of my plans, but my brother, again, showed no encouragement, no interest in what I was doing at all. Once, he asked me to do a couple ink illustrations for a newsletter he was doing for a local literary club, but on the condition that I didn't sign the artwork because he didn't want people to know that I did the artwork. Yes, I did the illustrations, but I wish I hadn't. I always craved my brother's approval but got pretty much none. For years I was convinced that there was something deeply wrong with me because of the way my brother treated me throughout every year of my existence on this earth.

After he moved away, I finally felt the freedom to create and my art business did indeed take off. I finally "found myself" and realized that he is the one with the problems, not me. I got the "last laugh" because I am stable in my profession and my brother has been drifting around the country for several years, living in different states, unemployed though college educated, using my parents' money to live on. He avoids me like the plague. He even told my mother that when he talks to her on the phone, he doesn't want to hear anything about me. He's a very angry, lost human being. Though deep inside I still wish he would show some interest in my activities, all my friends have advised me to stay far, far away from him.

He lost his temper once when he was visiting in town for Thanksgiving, and nearly put his fist through two doors in anger. All because he wanted to spend time with my mom and grandparents without me being around, and I was protesting. He prepared most of the Thanksgiving meal in the kitchen for the family that year. I had wanted to add a vegetable side dish to the meal for everybody, so I was cooking that and then all of a sudden, my brother stormed down the stairs and said that Thanksgiving is now canceled because I had "interfered" with his plans for the meal. He spent the rest of the day and night locked in a downstairs room. I could give you a million examples of odd behavior that was inexplicably cruel towards me but since this thread is about art I'll stop there!! My message to other artists who either live with or have to deal with an emotionally abusive relative is to get yourself out of that situation quick. Do anything you can. Talk to friends, other relatives, teachers, counselors, even police if you feel threatened. And always remember that they are the sick ones and not you. These mentally ill people can affect not only your career but your life in general in pretty awful ways. My brother was purposely running into me in the house a few times last time he was in town. Like walking in a straight line and bumping me roughly aside if I happened to be standing in his path. Thank God he lives on the other side of the country now. I don't welcome him back.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:50 PM
artyczar
 
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

d-archer: I'm telling you, we pretty much have the same brother. Mine is 3 years older than me. He has very deep seated issues. I have come to just feel bad for him. He lives 20 minutes from me however.

Many times I have stopped speaking with him. We have connected/disconnected/reconnected/etc. throughout my life. This last time was because my parents got ill and were dying, so we had to come together and take care of them. That was really difficult. He was back in my life for 2 years after dealing with all the management of everything from their deaths. What a nightmare. He wound up even stealing money from my share of my mom's account - and he is wealthy! I am not. And that's nothing; I won't even go into the verbal abuse. It's actually very difficult for people to even believe - that's how amazingly horrible it is. I didn't even fight him for the money because it wasn't worth dealing with him in any capacity.

Anyway, now I don't really speak to him. If I do, it's done via text or email. I too also crave/craved his approval. I am always working on that in therapy. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's the older brother thing and the fact that my parents gave him so much more attention because he was older and he was a boy. He was important and I was dirt.

But deep down, I love him and feel bad for him. He lives a very phony life. He is stressed beyond recognition, an over achiever, married to someone I don't think he loves, buried in religion so that he won't abuse drugs anymore, but I think he is covering up a lot of gender identity issues that he feels shame about, perhaps because of religion. My parents enabled him so much, I just feel sorry for him that he is a jerk. I mean he is responsible for being a jerk, but I have obviously known him since he was a little kid and I don't know if he would have been a jerk if we had different lives.

But in the mean time, I stay clear of him because I always walk away from time with him feeling horrible in some way shape of form. he manages to invalidate EVERY aspect of my life.

Last edited by artyczar : 04-21-2012 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:25 PM
d-archer d-archer is offline
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

artyczar,
I have done a lot of research about this kind of behavior and I think my brother has NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). The description totally fits him and may fit yours as well. My brother was always Mr Over Achiever in school but it backfired on him. He has a real hard time keeping a job and getting along with people. People like him want all the attention and all the applause and can't stand the thought of anyone potentially stealing their spotlight. It's an illness. I do feel sorry for my brother too yet at the same time he freaks me out!
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:57 PM
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Katie Black Katie Black is offline
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

Very entertaining, I enjoyed reading these!
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:00 AM
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

No comment....
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:53 AM
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van gouda van gouda is offline
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

I know that this is an old thread... Artyczar you are lucky that you got away from that snake oil salesman when you did.
AllisonR... I think I would kill myself! (well, maybe not, but you know)
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:14 AM
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

You should haave tried Bel Air instead :-)
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:30 AM
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

Wow, there are some really horrific stories here! You have my deepest sympathies. I can somewhat relate to the horror stories about the terrible older brother. With me it was another family member, an adult when I was a child, and they weren't as messed up or as screwed up, but they were always discouraging. Even as a child of 9-10, when you'd think that a kid would be too young to take heavy-duty critique, they were very critical. They say now that they wanted to make sure I didn't get one of those "prima donna" huge brat egos (that they'd seen other kids get) but they went waaaaay overboard in the other direction.

If an art teacher said something encouraging, this person (without fail!) claimed that the teacher only said it out of pity. They complained about me using any art supplies, any time spent on art, any money spent on art education. They made it sound like if it was up to them, they would have forbidden me all of these things. Fortunately there were others in the family that didn't allow this to get too out of hand. And fortunately, as time went on and I grew up, this one person eased up a lot. So my story has a sort-of happy ending.

In my case, in a weird sort of way, it helped me build up a resistance for that kind of thing. I still am sensitive (aren't all artists?) but I think I learned to not rely too much on the approval of others. I mean, sure, we all want it, but with some people, it's never going to happen, and even if they did approve, it wouldn't mean anything. You must do the artwork for your own sake.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:49 AM
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie Black
Very entertaining, I enjoyed reading these!

She must like Stephen King novels
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:53 PM
KiwiBee KiwiBee is offline
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

Three years ago I was accepted to an art school. I absolutely loved it there, but I was in a horribly abusive relationship at the time (though then it "wasn't so bad" and all that), and my work suffered significantly. At the end of first semester I had failed a prerequisite course for second semester for not turning in a final assignment. The program coordinator put me through to second semester on the condition that I take a week long remedial class in the subject I had failed. Well, when that week rolled around my dirtbag boyfriend stole the last of my student loan money and left town to party with his friends leaving me alone in a house with no money or food. I retroactively failed first semester and was stuck in town for two months before my parents rescued me. At the time I felt it was my art or lack of discipline that had led to my failure, but in retrospect of course I see that I was in a terrible situation. To this day I'm still apprehensive about reapplying to an art school (which is probably why I'm in law school right now).
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:54 PM
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Re: Art Biz Horror Stories

KiwiBee - I am so sorry to hear that you went through this.

Nothing wrong with law school, you can always be an artist with a law degree. But you can not practice law with an art degree. I'm sure you are doing what is best for YOU.
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