Several years ago I was working with a guy named Fadah in Summit NJ who would photograph my original paintings and pull giclee prints on canvas or watercolor paper when and if I needed them. His process insisted on the artist's presence and input. I would sit with him and help him color-match my originals on his computer monitor and then we would run test strips, proof them, and finally print out the final product. One day when I called in need of his services, a guy named Steve answered, relating that Fadah had sold him the business, along with all my digital files. Feeling a bit aggravated that my files had been passed down without my knowledge or consent, I made an appointment and went down to Summit to work with Steve. It was soon apparent that Steve was in over his head. He had a limited understanding of the business he had gotten into and complained chronically about how much money he was losing despite the fact that his prices kept climbing. One recent Monday morning I called Steve to see about getting a piece photographed and printed, and a guy named Bill answered. Steve had sold what was left of his ailing business to Bill, who was now in possession of all my digital files in a different location in Morristown, NJ. I let Bill know that I was not happy about the fact that my files had been sold without my knowledge or consent, made an appointment, and went down to Morristown.
One thing I have learned over the years, is that every year a person lives over age 70 entitles them to 10 minutes of stories before work can be done. Bill is easily pushing 80, so it took about an hour and a half. There is no way around this. Bill is tall, was handsomely dressed in a decent blue suit, has flowy white hair, wire rimmed spectacles, and a very confident manner, despite a pronounced speech impediment. He's been around the block a few times, and that was a relief. Finally, someone who knows what he is doing. He filled me in on his background, about learning the print business at his father's knee. He prints art reproductions for Harry Abrams Publishing for one among several stellar accounts that he mentioned. According to Bill, big shot art stars cry tears of joy over the awesomeness of his work, his color-correctness and amazing detail. He seemed disgusted by the other 2 guys and their shoddy work, crappy equipment and lack of ability to succeed. Throughout his stories he proved to be a tough guy; often chasing down unscrupulous contractors and threatening to break both their arms. Out at the 800 square foot house in the Hamptons, Bill charged like a race-horse over a fence after one house painter- the painter's hat caught on a branch and came off. Attached to it was his toupee. Holding it up on the branch, Bill whipped out his lighter and set it on fire as the guy begged for mercy. “And that house better be white when I get back here in two weeks!”, Bill stormed. Thankfully, in between stories, Bill managed to ask a few pertinent questions regarding the project, and finally, after the story about the house in the Hamptons when the shoddily-constructed roof fell in, ruining everything in the room including the cream colored baby grande topped with $11,000 worth of Lalique crystal, we were done. Bill gave me a very good deal, totaled up the fee and looked suspiciously at the check I had written, asking if it was good. “I'm not in the habit of writing bad checks, Bill”, I told him, matching his tough-guy attitude. “And I'm not going to come back to proof the print. You seem like an expert, I shouldn't have to. Just call me when its done. If I like your work I'll be back, and if I don't, you'll never see me again. Also, I would like a raw digital file of every photograph of mine in your possession.” Flaky artist? I think not! And to think I get paid for this! Well... sometimes.