Last spring I was approached by a relatively well known interiors catalogue from the east coast to sell limited edition prints of my work. At the time, none of my current work was available to be sold as limited editions because I had a previously standing contract with a fine art publisher and/or the work had previously been released as open editions and was therefore disqualified. However, we agreed via email that I would work on a new collection over the summer that could be released in their fall catalogue. They needed at least 10 images before they could sign me, but they agreed that they would give me feedback over the summer and we could work on this together. They showed enough interest that I was comfortable in doing a new series with them in mind, because at the very least, I was certain that this type of work was popular with my collector base and could sell as originals. It was almost too good to be true! I began sending them a few of the images for feedback. They directed me to do more sea grasses, lighthouses, and simple florals. They were currently working with another artist that specialized in waves. I continued working on this new series over the summer. I sent them new pieces in early July with no response and again in late August with no response. Finally I directly requested a response. I assumed that the fall catalogue would be released soon and out of respect I at least deserved an answer, even if my work wasn't exactly what they were looking for. Finally I heard what I suspected was coming, that they had already released the fall catalogue and went with other artists. They had released the catalogue without respectfully telling me in advance that they chose other artists. They had admittedly overextended themselves.
I'm writing about this experience as a warning to other artists that we should never do work for a company without first having something contractual in writing. This situation had never happened to me before, and because I trust in other people's word, unfortunately I believe I was taken advantage of. I also believe that they solicited too many artists into this project and hopefully learned from their mistake. I'm also certain that the artist they signed who specialized in waves probably had a different experience. My message to the businesses out there is to respect us artists, and my message for us artists is not to be starry-eyed when being solicited by big name companies. The more of us who demand contracts prior to work commences, the better we are all off.
What are your thoughts? Has anyone else had a similar experience?