Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Be Wary of Praise from Strangers

I am a tiny, modest business operation. 
Cynthia Murray Design consists of me,
working away in my basement studio/workbench and at my easel. 
I am told that I have cultivated a small following at some of the local shops that carry my work. 
My blog, Flickr and Pinterest sites have groups of regulars who presumably find something of interest in what I create and write.

I am very aware that mine is a singular, quiet voice in a cacophonous sea of online entities, 
all trying to put forth some kind of message. 
That is why I’m always a bit surprised when someone pauses to hear my message and even more surprised when one of those who pause actually reaches out and contacts me.

A few months ago, I received an email from the Director of Marketing of a company that designs and creates a popular line of products, telling me that she had come across my blog while researching fellow artists. 
She found my work “absolutely beautiful” and could tell that I was “passionate about my art”.
 Because it was Artist Appreciation Month 
(?...yeah, I also wasn’t aware that this was yet another one of those 30 days of alleged ‘appreciation’), 
their company wanted to 
“learn a bit more about me as an artist”.

I readily admit to initially feeling flattered by being contacted by a successful company, 
but life experiences have inspired in me a healthy level of suspicion. 
I wrote back, asking for more information. 
The response explained that they wanted to “celebrate my work and learn what fuels my passion” by having me write a blog post, answering a series of questions that they developed. 
I was to post this on my blog.

Wait a minute….
I didn’t understand how posting something on my own blog was going to be a benefit to me. 
I already tell my own story,
in my own words. 
I had a brief, naive thought that my work might be mentioned on the site of this successful company whose Director of Marketing was only pretending to be interested in my “lovely blog”. 
As I read further, I realized that they wanted me to include a link to their web site in my blog posting with no reciprocating acknowledgment.
How convenient that they provided the link to the page that highlighted their new products.

I decided to research and immediately found many blog postings composed by artists and craftspeople who undoubtedly received the same email that I had received, 
enticing them to take part in this ‘Artist Appreciation’ campaign. 
Many of the postings communicated the excitement felt by being contacted by such a successful company. 
All of the postings included the link to the new product line.

After another minute of sleuthing, I found out that this company had made the decision to discontinue their business relationships that they long held with national retailers. 
All future sales were going to be online through their own site. 
What a surprise…
this transition coincided with their alleged interest in me and likely hundreds of other independent designers. 
We were going to be their free marketing tool.

 I could have just let it go, but I don’t appreciate being played. 
I wrote back, 
“Thanks for clarifying.
You want to use my humble blog to promote your successful company….
no thanks”. 

I will always listen to my inner, suspicious voice.


  1. Even though I'm a stranger, too, I just had to say that I truly appreciate your singular, quiet voice, especially with its healthy dose of skepticism. I usually read quietly, but I do enjoy seeing the work that you share. I'll be sure to stop and say hello if I ever see you again at one of the local Delaware Co. art fairs.

  2. Good girl! These big companies have no integrity.

  3. Gale- Thanks for your words. I definitely hope you stop by and introduce yourself if you're at the one festival I do...Wallingford Community Art Center's Fine Art & Craft Festival. It would be nice to meet you!

  4. Barbara- While I am making assumptions about this whole encounter, I am also very confident that my assumptions are correct. I do agree that they showed little integrity in their 'Artist Appreciation' campaign.