Artist: Maya Chalee; Davis California, USA

QUESTION: What obstacles have you faced?

Maya Chalee: Getting people to know about my art and be interested in my art, and then having the confidence to approach people about my art.

QUESTION: What do you know about RAW events?

Maya Chalee: A good friend of mine who’s a photographer (who is not in your course, I just want to mention that she is not one of your students) got approached by RAW to show her art or her photographs in a upcoming show. And she was very, very excited and it was very flattering and I have to admit that I was a little bit jealous because nobody approached me and We’re outside of Sacramento and we’re both here trying to do the same thing with our work. And she was very, very excited about it and it was inviting us all to, to attend the show, but she said you had to buy tickets. And that caught me eye. That just seemed weird to me because I’ve been to plenty of gallery shows myself, because I love looking at other artists’ work, and you never have to pay to go to a gallery.

QUESTION: What did you learn about RAW?

Maya Chalee: You just go. They give you wine. RAW struck me as very shady. I work in marketing for a bank, so I know like marketing principles and techniques, so it just hated to me and I asked her about it. Then she  didn’t want to explain. She seemed to feel a little ashamed that she had to sell these tickets and she explained that she had to sell 20 tickets and they were maybe $22 per ticket. Well that comes out to about $440 if my math is correct, which actually when you’re starting out and it’s a lot, that’s a lot. The thing that also got me was that you had to sell the tickets. She had to hear the difference to RAW.

QUESTION: How did her RAW event go?

Maya Chalee: I try to be very supportive, uh, to her about it. And she was dead. She did these campaigns on email and, and Instagram and begging her friends and family, please come, come, come, come buy a ticket. And as the date got closer and closer, it was more desperate, you know, because I, I guess she wasn’t selling tickets the way she wanted to right away. So I had a conflicting appointment that weekend. So I actually did not go to RAW and I fell a little mad at RAW to have to pay to go see my friends work and she works her butt off. She tries really hard. Um, and later my friend showed on Instagram and Facebook, her booth that she had, which was tiny. It was absolutely tiny. It wasn’t a 10 by 10, it was just a little corner and it was dark. And then she later explained that, you know, there was a laser light show. There was a performance and lots of loud music and her dedicated friends and family, really, they went to support her but they didn’t buy her art. She didn’t say she bombed, but I know her so she kinda bombed. And um, and the pictures were sad. It just looks sad to me.

QUESTION: What do you think of RAW events?

Maya Chalee: I looked through it with my marketing Lens.

Ann Rea: Yeah, what did you think with your marketing lens?

Maya Chalee: It’s good for RAW, but it’s not good for artists because it’s like a puppy mill or something. They just try it in a community. They’re all over, they’re all over the US and they’re, and they’re grabbing as many artists as they can to just sell, you know, 400 bucks worth of tickets. I’m not sure if they had to pay for their booth and not

QUESTION: What is “Pay to Play”?

Ann Rea: I think artists probably feel flattered because they, they, they use that. They stroke your ego and say you’ve been chosen, so that’s used by art contest organizers. Also. Anytime you are presented with an opportunity for exposure where you have to pay, that is called “pay to play”.

QUESTION: Why does this hurt artists?

Ann Rea: I have talked to artists who spent 10s if not 20, even over $30,000 on art contests and paying for articles to be written about them, also the books which is all called a vanity press.

QUESTION: Success takes work.

Ann Rea: Success isn’t that easy, okay. You don’t just sell some tickets for an event and then you’re good to go. You need a longterm plan and vision. You need to understand what your mission is and serve it. You need to know who your target market is and how you’re going to connect with them. Besides the fact that actually got, make some art, a certain level of quality. Are you already touched on that? It’s just so dismaying because I know how excited and then disappointed and then embarrassed. I know. That’s how they, that’s the experience you have in these kinds of things.

QUESTION: How is your friend doing?

Maya Chalee: She has been super quiet and not talking about her art, and if you go to their webpage, which I did before our conversation, they’ve got stock photos of millennials with tattoos. They’re cool, they’re hip, they have this whole thing and you know, they’ve got a flashy website. We really do, and “we can help you price your art. We can help you. We can do this. Da, Da, Da, da”.

Ann Rea: If anyone is offering to help you price your art, that’s a big flag. You are the only one ever who can pray. Place the price tag on your art. You need to know what your expenses are, your overhead, and you cannot put a price on art that you don’t have full confidence in asking for. That price

QUESTION: What do you think of RAW?

Maya Chalee: It feels very slimy. It feels like marketing executives got together and said, hey, here’s the market. We can tap into starving artists and they’re going to be so desperate for attention and we’ll do the slick campaign and these slick websites and we’re going to go after him and that’s what they did, and their website also says that they’re doing 30 events a month. RAW is.

Ann Rea: Wow!

Maya Chalee: They’re making bank

QUESTION: Are all of my students successful?

Ann Rea: To be perfectly transparent. I don’t ask them to give me their schedule C and corporate, you know, I just don’t do that, but what I do is I make sure you’re not graduating until you’ve earned your tuition back at a minimum. I want to emphasize that a minimum because if you haven’t, then something’s off. Something’s not right or you haven’t either haven’t learned something or you have not approached something right, something’s off and we can figure out what it is to at least get you to that point.

QUESTION: Beware of big promises.

Ann Rea: When big promises are made for like a small amount of effort or money. Something’s wrong, right? So they’re. They’re implying that you’re going to have this amazing events and that you’re going to get sales and that’s not possible. There’s no way that you could. The analogy I gave, like look, let’s say you walked into a, um, a clothing boutique and in beautiful dresses and things, but they also had right next to that was really beautiful. A bowling ball, and camping gear and you know, that’s what it’s like when you are in this marsh pit of somebody doing hair and makeup and somebody over here doing a laser show and somebody over here tap dancing in a hula skirt. I mean, it’s just messed up. It’s not going to work out real well.

QUESTION: Fine art requires a certain environment.

Maya Chalee: What about the lighting? You know, like you’re a visual artist, you need really good lighting and you need it to be quiet. I mean, or background music maybe. I Dunno, but I mean all the gallery shows that I’ve been to, it’s not, it’s not a loud ruckus affair. It’s where people, contemplate and to look at the art and feel the art.

QUESTION: What has changed for you?

Maya Chalee: Well, the biggest thing that’s changed is is being artist focus, actual artists focused and and working on our own careers as artists as opposed to going through a gallery. Because I think like in my mind prior to this course, it’s always been like, well, the only way is if you were in a gallery, that’s the only way you’re going to make a living or be known and that’s, that’s just not true.

QUESTION: What else has changed for you?

Maya Chalee: The other thing that has kind of blown my mind, I don’t know why I didn’t put two and two together because I do work in marketing, but it’s finding that target market or those people really in, when you call it a tribe, let’s humanize them. Like they’re just a target market that’s larger, but they’re also our tribe and our friends and people that we want to try and connect with and our art is art is our beloved gift to them.

QUESTION: What else changed for you?

Maya Chalee: I didn’t necessarily think that was possible before taking this course and so that makes me want to cry actually because I know what I have to tell people and show people and have them experience with. My art’s important and the and there are people that want that and that is something I’m super excited about.

QUESTION: Should other artists apply?

Maya Chalee: Anything is possible and that even if you don’t have the price of the course in your bank account in your pocket at the moment, you will figure out a way to do it. I work a 40 hour week. I have two little kids. I commute one hour one way. I didn’t have a lot of extra cash, but I figured out how to save money and I wanted to take this course before I could even afford to do it, but I was bound and determined. I even asked family members for little loans. I did everything I could because I knew that this course was worth it because I’m worth it.

QUESTION: What do you think of our community?

Maya Chalee: You will learn so much and and the and the people you meet. I’ve met the most fabulous people all over the world and I love that. I love that. They’re going to be my friends forever. I love it.

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18 Responses

  1. Oh my god! I did RAW events twice. They make you think it’s a huge honor and jumping off point to tie you into a marvelous community. The first one I sold $500 worth of books and prints, to friends and family mostly. And then was forgotten quickly. They promise some package of marketing materials and head shots (I’m not a model or actor so that was DUMB) the second event I received nothing of the sort. They quickly forget the artists and the second time they invited me it was a whole new team. The coordinator did next to nothing to help get us ready or help us sell tickets. The ticket website barely functioned for most of my patrons. I had to buy the remaining tickets myself. Such a rip off. The event was overloaded with way too many artists and too small/crowded for all of my efforts. I think they should be shut down, it’s so narrowly escaping the realm of SCAM.

  2. I got approached by them two years ago and when they told me I had to sell tickets I immediately backed out. I don’t have family that live close by and all my friends were college students with no money so I didn’t end up doing it. I was very disappointed about it then, however, reading this article I think I actually dodged a bullet a few years ago.

  3. Yep. Was invited, was flattered, and then was sorely disappointed. Buying my tickets and then selling them to my audience was super hard. My patrons come from all over the States, so no one was actually going to go. Out of their good hearts to help me out, many bought tickets they had no intentions to use. It was incredibly embarrassing. And because every other artist there had gone through the same thing, the event was filled with an audience that was a family or friend of another artist, only there to support their loved one, not to support me. It was a flop. And to boot, it was loud, dark and chaotic. Even if someone was interested in my work, they wouldn’t have been able to see it properly, and we certainly couldn’t have a convo about it. Think of a dark, dank nightclub with thumping music, trying to sell your art… And by the way, they keep zero records of who has participated with them, so I continually get soliciting emails from them asking me to participate in their upcoming events. No thank you!

  4. I got approached too. Being the distrusting person I am I was like I need to go check this thing out before I sign up for anything. I went to one in LA and was like yeah, nope not for me. Seemed super ammaterur. Not my gig at all. They keep contacting me to participate but it’s not gonna happen.

  5. I’m glad you posted this. I live in Denver and have been contacted by Raw year after year. I have never bought into this and I don’t trust any organization or gallery that asks me to pay money for wall space. Raw needs to be called out as a borderline scam organization capitalizing on aspiring artists that do not have enough experience to see the truth. Thank you for sharing. The more people know about them, the more likely artists will stop working with Raw.

  6. I did the Raw Showcase 5 years ago. I would definitely say it was a raw deal, and I put out most of the money to participate in an environment of people that was completely wrong for my work. I did not make a dime from that venture and highly discourage anyone from doing this. I wish I had me back then to tell me not to do it. The only good thing that came from it were some beautiful photos of my work, and curating/displaying my area, which was a large middle portion of this industrial space, that lent itself to the work I was doing at the time. I took the positive from it. But the other people’s work was not at all in the same vein or had the level of sophistication (I don’t mean to make that sound snobby). I just mean I didn’t really see the value in my work at the time. I’m getting better at that. But still not quite there yet, which is one of the reasons I’m taking this course. 5 years ago I saw it as an “opportunity”. I wanted my work to be seen, and it was. But now I want my work to sell. I’m really glad to be a part of this program, as it’s showing me already how much support can help in making these kinds of decisions. I wish I had it 5 years ago.

  7. One of their salespeople invited me to participate in a group show in Philly and I was pretty excited. Then I went and researched their business model and read reviews of their company by former employees. Abysmal. Nobody on earth would ever have to pay to print, mount, edit and then sell tickets to a show! WHo the hell is going to buy anything after paying 20 bucks to help their poor dope of a friend make the money for the table cost. The owner of that company should be ashamed of herself.

  8. I recently participated in RAW art showcase. I was able to sell all the tickets and had a great experience. I sold several things and made some really good contacts in marketing. Ya, it’s a scam, but I would have had to pay to get into any kind of festival to sell art. It’s not for everyone, but it worked out for me.

  9. Interesting, I was at a RAW event last week and have a totally different view of it. Two friends who are full time artists participated and did well, so I’d disagree with your take on it. As for selling tickets, any venue you sell your work at comes with a fee. How is selling tickets any different than paying a fee to participate?

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