Artist beware

October 5th, 2011 | Posted by Alistair in art | creative writing | research

Writer Beware is an excellent mini-site warning of the scams, psychological tricks or outright lies of people and companies who prey upon the ambitions and enthusiasm of aspiring writers. Do not under any circumstances be put off by the fact that this is overtly aimed at writers, or that it’s under the aegis of  a membership organisation called the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America: this site gives solid, sensible and unhysterical advice that applies across all the creative genres and media, particularly with regard to contests and awards. They offer a sensible series of questions to ask of anyone who is offering you what may just be, as Writer Beware puts it, “an ‘opportunity’ to spend more money.” The site also emphasises the importance of knowing the law (especially copyright and intellectual property law), knowing your rights and sticking up for those rights.

They also name and shame without any compunction at all, which is exactly what the art world needs. Obviously this kind of business is also targeted at artists, as I’ve previously described on this site and as is evident to anyone who regularly looks at “opportunity” listings for artists in magazines or online. Unsurprisingly, it also seems that Writer Beware has almost immediately provoked (anonymous and trollish, obviously) backlash and pushback from “concerned individuals” who want to justify these rip off merchants and (brilliant phrase) contest mills and don’t like having a spotlight shone on them.

Comment below, if you like, with the names of particularly scammy “competitions” or galleries dedicated to milking artists. We’ll happily publish them all. Somebody should.

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