A couple of weeks ago I received an unsolicited email from an arts organization I had never heard of that sounded vaguely legit: Art Fairs International.

The person who emailed me claimed to be interested in publicizing my artwork to an international audience and included a link to NY Arts Magazine at www.nyartsmagazine.com. The email-er said my work would be presented as editorial, not advertising, which sounded complimentary. I clicked on the link and checked out the publication, which includes editorial, reviews, good-looking images and artwork, and interviews with artists. At first I thought this was a good opportunity, until I got to the bottom of the email – to participate in this ‘artist package’ I had to pay $1200.00. Excuse me?

I wrote back and asked if ALL the artists featured in NY Arts Magazine had paid to be there? I was being ornery and never expected a response. To me, this seriously undermines the credibility of any magazine and makes it virtually useless to an artist – the ultimate vanity gallery publication.

Surprisingly, the person wrote back to me! His reply was this: “To answer your question as to whether all the contents that you see on NY Arts Magazine’s website are consisting of artworks by artists who have paid a fee to be listed; the answer is negative dear Ober. We, as World Art Media PR Agency, have few slots available to place the artists that we promote into this context, just as into other venues as well. The NY Arts Magazine has a %85 editorial and %15 advertising and the proposal we are giving you is for an editorial slot, dear Ober, which makes it so much more valuable.”

Oh really? I don’t think so. So parts of this magazine appear to be editorial, i.e. merit based, but are really advertising. To me, this seems dishonest. This type of ‘advertising offer’ also seems predatory towards artists who might be naive enough to believe this is their big break.

For anyone who is still interested, here’s the rest of my Publicity Proposal:

PUBLICITY PROPOSAL FOR ARTIST: CARA OBER 1) The artist Cara Ober to be featured with a 1/3 Page in the editorial Tips & Picks section of NY Arts Magazine’s upcoming (Jul/Aug/Sept 2009) issue, in print and online as well as the art publications’ 2009 Artist Directory online. Please click on the below link to see a sample page: http://worldartmedia.com/sample This feature will be posted at the NY Arts Magazine Online. The artist’s work presented on the homepage at http://www.nyartsmagazine.com for10 days with a direct hot link to the artist’s site. 2) The artist to be featured in NY Arts Annual Catalog* in Print (Oct/Nov/Dec 2009 issue). 3) The artist’s work to be featured in Art Fairs International Magazine*’s “Artists of the Month” Flash Presentation: Please check: www.artfairsinternational.com Payments: Total of $1,200 includes all of the features listed in this proposal – 4 Internet Features + 2 in Print Features – and is due upon acceptance and signing.

WAM – World Art MediaWAM, founded in 1998, is a Public Relations entity working with artists, dealers, writers, curators, collectors, galleries and museums. Significantly combining the worlds of art and business, WAM is allied with specific groups* which makes for a PR agency well positioned to find, promote and develop the individual and collective interests and needs of its clients.

At the end of the email, the arts organization was listed: World Art Media 473 Broadway, 7th floor New York, NY 10013(212) www.worldartmedia.com.

So, just for the record, if you get an email from World Art Media, from Art Fairs International Magazine, or NY Arts Magazine – international promotion of your art career sounds good, but paying for it is a bad decision. Don’t give them any money, even if you had any. As a practicing artist, you want to be recognized in legitimate publications and this always comes free of monetary compensation.

Sure, press can be hard to come by. But press that is paid for isn’t really worth anything.