Photographers, beware of what could be vanity gallery scams

Oct 23, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Photographers, beware of what could be vanity gallery scams

Oct 23, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Unfortunately, we live in the world where scams take plenty of forms and target different kinds of people. Photographer Mathieu Stern has recently received an email which, according to him, turned out to be a scam targeting photographers. It comes from a vanity gallery in London, and it’s aimed at taking money from photographers who’d like to get their works exhibited.

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This is the email Mathieu got from the gallery (the names are changed):

On the first glance, the email seems tailored especially for Mathieu, considering that it mentions a specific series of his photos. They offer the services of promotion, installation and the opening night reception included in the price he needs to pay for an exhibition. Okay, he needs to pay, but he gets their services and his artwork displayed. He “googles” the gallery and sees that it really exists. So what’s the catch?

As my DIYP buddy John points out, the hint that something’s not right is in the very first line. They offer you to exhibit in a “rentable gallery space.” To be honest, I can easily imagine someone overseeing this. For example, if they don’t speak very good English, or if they’re a young and inexperienced artist hyped over an opportunity to exhibit. What will you get when you pay to the gallery, then?

Well, Mathieu did some research. The very visit to the gallery’s website showed that something was fishy. There was a lot of low-quality artwork on their page. As he went on researching, he found a lot of comments from other people. These are some of the experiences:

So, you give around $800 to the gallery to exhibit your photos. Since they have already taken the money from you, there’s no motivation for them to try and sell your work. To be honest, when you use some common sense, you can probably conclude this. But, as I mention, if you get hyped over the opportunity to exhibit, you may not think about it at first. And after you pay, it may be too late if the gallery turns out to be this unprofessional.

Another thing is, since vanity galleries don’t earn from selling the art, they don’t make the selection. Anyone who pays can have their work displayed. Because of this, the reputable art critics avoid these places. So, you’ll pay a large fee to have your work exhibited and sold. Nobody will try to promote it because they’ve already earned the money, and respectable people from the art world won’t even see it. What’s even worse, since these galleries live on the dreams of artists to get acknowledged, they exist in almost every art center in the world.

So, if you are still an unacknowledged artist, you may really be desperate to put your work out there, even if you have to pay for it. But beware of the “opportunities” like this, and don’t fall for them. Do your homework and make sure to do a thorough research about every gallery where you plan to exhibit your work. Read forums and talk to other artists, and of course, google the info before you rush in.

[I almost lost $1000 in a SCAM Targeting Photographers | Mathieu Stern]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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2 responses to “Photographers, beware of what could be vanity gallery scams”

  1. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    Common sense…

  2. David Harpe Avatar
    David Harpe

    Pretty common and has been going on for quite some time. There was one in NYC many years ago which was the same kind of fund-your-own-show sorta deal. Pretty much all they were was a relatively impressive sounding name/address and a web site. But they would do the same thing – reach out to artists with semi-personalized mailings and try to snag them.
    A derivative of this scam are the numerous “galleries” with “curated” shows and $50 entry fees. They pick one featured artist and give them $500, then they pick 3 dozen “runners up”. For your win you have to frame and ship the artwork at your expense. If you don’t sell your work during the show you have to pay to return it to you or “donate” it to the gallery. If you do sell it they get 50% or more. If you don’t live in the area you have to pay your own travel for the opening.
    So do the math – they’ll get 1,000 people to enter the “show”, $500 for the winner, $2,000 or so for advertising, opening night refreshments, etc. They net $40k without selling a single piece.