Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Calling All Artists... Seller Beware!

Last week, I received an e-mail — from a man named Bill Curry — with an inquiry about one of my top selling products... an arcade style Knock Down Doll...

From: Bill Curry
Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 10:36 PM
Subject: Tillie Knock-Down Doll arcade-style plush doll


I'm Bill Curry from California. I was going through your works and my eyes caught this particular piece, I want to purchase it as I am moving to a new apartment next month. Kindly let me know if you still have the piece available and also let me know it's final price and more information about it. I will be waiting to read from you.


I thought it was a little odd the way the e-mail was worded, but who am I to take off for grammar? I sell items internationally all the time in this cyberworld and lots of people speak broken English. Although, it was a bit strange that he used the name of the product but did not indicate where he saw the item. But I replied with the information he requested and a link to my Etsy shop.

Soon after, I received another e-mail from Mr. Curry. But this time I had an uneasy feeling in my gut after reading his reply. Red flags were popping up all over the place... 

From: Bill Curry
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2013 9:08 PM
Subject: Payment and pick up

Dear Michelle,

Thanks for your prompt reply.

Unfortunately, I'm on my way to France on an official trip (I'm a marketing Executive) and wont be back for another two weeks.

If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to South Africa soon and I'm trying to gather some good stuff for my new abode.

However, I'll have to notify my shipper who's helping me move my stuff to get set for the pick up of the piece from your place as I MIGHT be delayed depending on how things goes.

P.S. In the mean time, kindly get back to me with your contact address and phone# so I can get a check prepared and have it mailed out to you right away.

Following my intuition, I Googled "Bill Curry California scam" and sure enough, I found numerous posts and articles about this same person, using the same name*, and even the same e-mail address... as far back as 2008! And in each article, the e-mails sent were worded the exact same way!

I wanted to warn all you lovely, hard working artists out there to be careful when you reply to queries and what type of information you give out. It's too easy to these days to fall victim to identity theft. Trust your gut and ask yourself some important questions. Here's a few things that made me think twice about "Bill Curry".

• The broken English and poor grammar.

• His name is Bill Curry, but his e-mail was Not even close.

• He knew the exact name of my product, yet there was no mention of where he had seen it. 

• He's giving me too much information about his life, "If I'd like to know..."

• If he's some big-ass, jet-setting Marketing Executive, why does he need to send me a check? Doesn't he have a credit card that he can use to purchase the item directly from my shop?

• So instead of me having to send the item to his "shipper", he's going to have the shipper personally drive to the New Jersey coast and pick it up at my house? Really?

• He wants my address and phone number. I don't even give potential dates that information! And why do you need my phone number to write me a check?

So there you have it. My intuition saved the day, and hopefully by sharing this, it will save someone out there from becoming a victim.

*I did want to mention that when I found articles on this scam, there were other names used, but the wording was exactly the same. Sellers.... beware!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Soul Inspiration...

There are so many different ways I love to go about making a new piece of art... but serendipity is one of my favorite creative "tools". In life, there seem to be so many unexpected things that pop up... needing more effort, requiring more resources, and expending more energy to complete... just to accomplish your original goal. But with art, I don't mind working with what I have and seeing where it takes me. It's an escape of sorts. And this escape took me to the circus!

My freeform background started with some collage elements, covering up with white paint... but letting a few of my favorite ephemera peek through. Top it off with an obnoxiously bright neon palette of yellow, pink and orange... and we're on our way. I had no idea where it would go, but the CIRCUS — a remnant of an old ticket — was begging to be turned into a striped tent. And so it began.

The little pierrot was actually from an alphabet book, and was in a garden of tomatoes. But I turned them into juggling and balancing balls to stick with the theme. In my dreams I actually thought of creating a balloon around SOUL InSPiraTioN text...

And a circus girl dressed like a bear was the perfect compliment to the entire piece. I gave her orange hair to pull the nice, bright orange through the scene visually... and then added some clouds as an afterthought. I loved how the neon colors peeked through the sky like an early evening sunset just beginning. I just chalk it all up to my soul's inspiration.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who's In Da House?

So are these just the cutest little things you've ever seen? Tiny enameled houses made into a book that's made into a pendant!

I fell in love with these little cuties when I first saw them and was so very excited when I saw that Jean Van Brederode was teaching this class nearby at the Create Mixed Media Art Retreat in NJ. Woot!

I'll be making one today, in fact! And I'll be learning how to use a jeweler's saw for the first time, discover all about kiln fired enameling and brush up on my knotting and bookmaking skills.

I'm so very excited to try this out and I really hope I can make my house pink!!

©2013 photo courtesy of Create Retreat & Jean Van Brederode

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It CAN Be All Unicorns & Rainbows!

Who says life can't be all unicorns and rainbows? Certainly not me! In fact, I love to perpetuate the idea of beautiful natural occurrences and mythical creatures... especially in a whimsical painting. For sure!

This piece actually started as a background created with watercolor crayons and pencils... making fun marks and scribbles in a free-form manner. A little bit of drawing and it looks like this. A little bit of water and it turns into that.

A little bit of paint and that turned into this... and then this turned into that...and then that turned into a unicorn. Wheeeeee!

I thought I'd give this piece a nice pastel theme and play up the rainbow and the Unicorn Girl. Can you tell I was channeling My Little Pony?

And although it seems simple in subject, it was the tiny little tweaks here and there that set my brain on fire. I absolutely loved going back in to add little details to create interest. I kept adding, changing and tweaking it until I was satisfied with the finished piece. The most exciting part is that now I know how to fix what I'm not liking... and I'm less afraid of messing up my painting. So, see.... miracles do happen!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Having a Blast (Off)!

So, I'm having a blast with the lastest online workshop I'm taking! Appropriately named Paint Happy, Micki Wilde's tutorials have helped me fine tune my girls' faces, as well as think up new story lines and fun things to paint.

I started an idea journal as suggested and I just loving having all my thoughts in one place. If you are anything like me, prior to this you may have had 3 or 4 different journals, notebooks and pads with innumerable ideas written in them... and located in random spots around the house and studio!

One of the very first ideas I came up with was a Rocket Girl who had just landed on the Moon. I wrote it in my journal, but that simply wasn't enough. She kept tugging at me to bring her to life. And so, in-between housework, cooking, and errands, she appeared practically out of nowhere! I was so obsessed that I didn't even take the time to photograph my progress! More like possessed!

And I was very pleased with the results! After months of going crazy with colors and mark-making for my backgrounds — and the exciting anticipation of not knowing how my girls would end up — it was nice to actually think out a story line and a color palette ahead of time. I love that I enjoy both methods, and know which one suits my ever-changing moods. For now, I'm going minimal. And loving it!

Rocket Girl... over and out... (for now).