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Never Come Between An Artist And His Ego

, , , , , | Working | March 15, 2022

My great aunt turns ninety this month. Lockdown has been very tough on her. Not only has she lost several friends, but there is a disproportionate number of idiots living near her, not following guidelines. She hasn’t felt safe leaving her home, let alone make the annual trip back to Scotland to visit the village she grew up in and where her brother is buried, which was a big disappointment for her.

We all pool money together to commission a local artist to paint the Scottish village she grew up in. It’s a nice way of having a little piece of Scotland with her at all times. What we don’t realise at the time is that the artist’s initials are the same as her brother’s.

We agree that it might be a little much; it is a happy scene, not a memorial.

We try to get the artist to not sign it; he refuses. We ask him to sign it on the back; he refuses. We ask him to use any other signature than those three letters; he refuses.

Being a little brasher than most, I’m asked to speak with him and see if we can sort it out.

Me: “Hi. My name is [My Name] and I’m calling about the painting we commissioned.”

Artist: “Oh, another one. How… lovely.”

Me: “About the signature…”

Artist: “Yes, I know, very sad coincidence. But this is my work and I will not be changed.”

Me: “Then we have agreed to ask for a refund and find another artist.”

Artist: “Good luck finding anyone available at this short notice.”

Me: “Actually, we have a choice of people to go to.”

Artist: “Well… Well, it doesn’t matter, anyway. It’s not refundable once I started, so…”

Me: “Your email from last week said that you needed a bigger deposit to start the painting. That hasn’t been paid. So, which one of those situations was a lie?”

There is a noticeable pause.

Artist: “I managed to start the painting by borrowing some paint from another project.”

Me: “I will talk with my family, but there will be no more advances. And I will be holding you to the delivery date if we go ahead.”

Unfortunately, they couldn’t afford to lose the deposit. Then, the artist had the nerve to ask for another payment early. My word was clear: remove the signature and we would think about it. He agreed and the painting was completed.

We got photos occasionally throughout and things at least looked good. On delivery, the day before the birthday, we found that he had signed it anyway. I spent three hours carefully scraping away the paint to remove it.

Some people think they know better.

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