They are call Art Fusion Galleries. They are from Miami Beach.

So if you’re an artist who’s all excited about showing during our basil, don’t get sucked into that fantasy. Because it’s a fantasy.

Leah Devora

Artist, Los Angeles, California

Don't Fall For Pay to Play Artist Scams

(Transcript)

 

Leah Devora: 00:03 Well, I’ve had an art business for the last 15 years and I’ve been pretty successful. But over the last six months to eight months, I’ve lost my focus and my business has taken a little side side vacation and I’ve not been selling my work lately. I’ve not been very focused and not been able to do the work I used to do. And I’ve lost myself a little bit.

What where your challenges?

New Speaker: 00:33 You know, I lost my mother, I was in a car accident. I felt very displaced and disconnected to myself in the world and I just lost a lot of my motivation for making art.

What changed?

00:51 I’ve had a very, very vivid direction and goal and, and target. I knew my audience, you know, I was making money, I knew my audience, I was on a really strong projectory forward. I was doing really well. And then I just sort of lost interest in creating, you know, and I got distracted. I started getting a little really distractive by life’s issues and my health issues and my mother and, and my car and all this stuff kind of started coming at me. And I started losing focus and using all those excuses not to make art and not even being interested. So I wanted to focus again on making art, you know, and my business.

What’s your background?

New Speaker: 01:38 I started as a fashion designer. I had a fashion business at a young age. I mean I started at 23, 24 so I’ve always been an entrepreneur, so I’ve never had a problem making money at my creativity and never felt like a sellout to be honest with you. Good for you! I’m so glad I have to coach on that one. Good. No, not at all.

Has your focus improved?

New Speaker: 02:01 Level of focus is like maybe a four or five. When I joined the program, I was really all over the place. I’m just not being able to, and now I’m back up at like eight or nine.

How did you improve your focus?

Leah Devora: 02:14 That’s worth taking a look at. Um, my art and who, what my mission was and who I was as an artist and what I’m trying to say to people and what, what they’re responding to and what makes them happy. As my clients of mine and I talk, talk to them, but I looked at who my clients were and what they wanted and what I did and who I was. I mean, it’s kind of a broad statement, but I took a good hard look at my work over the years and I took a look at where I’m going now.

What would have happened had you not enrolled?

New Speaker: 02:49 I probably wouldn’t have been very functional. I probably would have just continued being like, not just not accomplishing a goal, you know, not really having a goal, not making my, forcing myself to put it, write it down. My goal is down and make myself like really work at it. Like, you know how you our goals are, give a timeline or smart goals or whatever they call. It forced me to do that. I wasn’t doing that. I knew better. I knew that was what I should be doing. Right? Yeah. And like, Oh, I know I should be doing this, but I’m not doing it. So it kind of forced me to do it. So if I hadn’t taken this course, I probably would not be doing. It forced me to focus and to focus on my goals and to make me go forward and talk about it and be around people talking about it, which I wasn’t.

Are you finding your purpose?

New Speaker: 03:43 There’s a great TED talk I watched called “Embrace the Shake” and this man embrace his disability and created art. He’s an artist. He’s able to embrace his disability and then create art from his disability. And that inspired me so much to get me out of this funk I was in.

Have your art sales improved?

Leah Devora: 04:06 I did get a commission. I think I get a commission lately. Yes. So I’m working on that right now.

What happened?

New Speaker: 04:16 You know, I have a lot of clients in Miami and Southern Florida and that’s a big 40% of my client base is in Southern Florida. I’m in Los Angeles, so that’s a bit of an issue for me cause I can’t really target them directly a lot of times. But I was in theaters. I’m, my artwork is in movie theaters and theaters around the country. So I was in theaters in Miami and I was getting a lot of business and I thought, well, what better way than to try to get a regular showing space in Miami other than a movie theater? Because my contract was ending with my relationship was ending with the theater. I was in Boca Raton, Florida, and I thought I’d contact this gallery called Art Fusion. I’m going to name them now. I’ll name them. Don’t ever call these people.

What happened with Art Fusion Galleries?

Leah Devora: 05:04 These people are very famous. They are very famous for taking on artists and promising them the world. They are call Art Fusion Galleries. They are from Miami Beach, So if you’re an artist who’s all excited about showing during our basil, don’t get sucked into that fantasy. Because it’s a fantasy. A lot of you know, and I’ve been in Art Basil before in a different way. I’m in a real gallery situation, but not, this is like not, this is a gallery they take forth, they took $4,000 from me up front. I know, I know better that I knew better than this, but in my back of my mind I was thinking, I have all these clients in Miami. If I give them the money, maybe I can get my clients to come to the gallery and get me business, give them business. They only took like 20% of the sale, not 50% so that was the other draw. That was the other thing. They sucked my into.

Speaker 2: 06:02 No, I wouldn’t. I want to stop you there because this is a common ploy. What happens is say, Oh, we only take, you know, we only take X number of commission, not 50% but the way they flipped the script is they say, but you’re going to need to pay us four thousand ten thousand whatever it is upfront. And then they fricking disappear and they don’t sell anything.

Leah Devora: 06:24 Sold nothing.

What did you find out?

New Speaker: 06:28 And then what I found out was, you know, they had people interested in my art and they refused to give me the names of the people interested in my work. And the work was going for five, $8,000 my paintings and the, and their gallery. So I was going to get a good portion of that and I said, so I, and I’m, I’m very aggressive when it comes to sales. Like I need to know who is interested in my art.

Speaker 2: 06:50 That’s not aggressive. That’s actually just, that’s, that’s doing business 101 if you have a business you need to know who the hell your customers are.

Leah Devora: 06:58 And I was calling them every day. So when it happened with a customer that was interested in my painting.

What else happened?

New Speaker: 07:02 I was getting a lot of interest in it. They didn’t sell it, they didn’t follow through with the clientele. And if it was me, I would have sold that, that painting. Okay.

Ann Rea: 07:17 And I’ll tell you why. Because their business model is charging everybody $4,000 and then doing fuck all. And that’s, and that’s what happens. I hear this way too often.

Leah Devora: 07:28 What do they care, right? They have your money already. And then I found out they put my paintings way in the back of the gallery in the back after telling me how much they love me. The art director said, Oh, I’d love to work at works so amazing.

Ann Rea: 07:42 Oh yeah. They stroke your ego.

Leah Devora: 07:44 Right, right. Oh, I love your work. I’m going to promote it all, all day and all night. He was such a bullshiter. William Brenner, his name is William Brenner. Don’t fall it.

Ann Rea: 07:53 Shame on you William Brenner.

Leah Devora: 07:55 Yeah, and then they get artists from all over the world. I read reviews about him before I did this and everything. A lot of reviews. Praise the gallery. Oh, I have the best experience of my life. It was amazing. It was incredible. Wonderful. I’m like, okay, maybe I’ll just go for it. I, I’m stupid. Okay. I, I feel,

Ann Rea: 08:12 I know you see the, I want to make sure you know you’re not stupid because it’s, it is very intelligent people and you’re not the first artist I’ve interviewed who’s been screwed over. I talked to many and they’re smart and they’ve got their wits about them and they did their due diligence and they still got screwed over. So it’s not that that the, the blame lies with that gallery and that man who misrepresented what he would do for you for $4,000. The blame does not lie with you.

What advice do you have for other artists?

Leah Devora: 08:52 Be consistent with with your relationships with people. Um, really keep the relationships with people and don’t let them go and without questioning if they, if I let a major relationship go without really understanding what happened and it was a big business relationship and keep, build relationship, build relationships is so important in business and if you have relationships with people, you can continue growing them and don’t dismiss people if, if they don’t buy from you, you know, if they buy from you, wants to just continue, you know, the relationship, don’t let it go. And just that, that’s my relationships. That’s it.

What would you tell other artists about this program?

New Speaker: 09:35 What would you tell other people If someone was kind of sitting on the fence and they weren’t sure about applying to enroll in the Making Art Making Money program, what would you honestly say to them?

Leah Devora: 09:44 I would say you’ll get something out of it no matter what I say. There is a, you know, it’s really great for focusing on your art. It’s great for business. It’s great for finding out who you are as an artist, and it’s really important to find out who your target market is if you don’t know who that is, so it’ll help you on on many different levels. Great. And I think it’s a great, I think it’s a good investment.

2 Responses

  1. Please be responsible to your viewers and make sure to discuss both sides of the coin. I’ve been a professional artist for thirty years and have had my own gallery for seven years.

    Of course there will be galleries that do not operate fairly and the gallery featured here seems to be one of those, but what also needs to be realized is the overhead these galleries have. Saying that 50% is unreasonable is an unreasonable statement to your viewers and unfair to galleries struggling to maintain a showcase for artists. My expenses are over $10,000 each and every month. On top of that I pay 20-25% to my sales staff and 10% to the hotel, so that 50% has just been reduced to 15%. Which means to sell 65,000 just to break even. Have your artist think about how hard it would be to sell $65,000 of their work on their own.

    Your other argument that the artist deserves to see the customers list also has a flip side. Imagine for a moment working 70 hours per week to run a gallery, showcasing an artist’s work and 9 out of 10 customers will try to go direct to the artist and cut out the gallery. There are also many immoral artists that will cut the gallery out that has worked hard on a sale.

    I’m an artist first and I thank you for helping artists but I believe that you are doing an injustice by not representing both sides fairly.

    The retail market is getting more and more difficult every year and soon there will be no more left.

    1. Kristine, I am not sharing anything that my students or I have experienced. Even if you are special and fair and productive, unlike most art galleries.

      Making Art Making Money is for independent artists, not the middleman.

      So I’m just not concerned with your expenses.

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