Sunday, December 31, 2023

if a picture paints a thousand words

I draw. I draw a lot. If you follow my online antics, you already know this about me. A little while ago, I decided to see if I could turn my drawing ability into some cash. I posted a little "ad" on my website offering my "alleged" talents to my alleged "legions of fans." For a small, reasonable fee, I will draw a portrait of the person of your choosing in that "Josh Pincus" style you've come to love (or revile, depending on your particular taste in art). I've been taken up on this offer a few times. More recently, I have branched out in the sticker and t-shirt business, but my portrait proposition has remained open and available.

On Friday morning, I was posting my daily celebrity death anniversaries (as one does) on Instagram. Then, as is my habit on Friday mornings, I posted my weekly "Dead Celebrity Spotlight." This is a drawing of a recent or not-so-recent celebrity, accompanied by a little story about why they were significant. Sometimes it's someone of worldwide renown. Other times, it's a long forgotten name, whose claim-to-fame endeavors are unsung and usually forgotten. Once posted, I get a smattering of "likes" and comments from a tiny, online faction who share my fascination with death, celebrities or any degree of combination of the two. As I settled back to finish a cup of coffee and figure out the plot points of the My Three Sons episode that was flashing across my television screen, a notification of a private Instagram message popped up on my phone. It was from someone with whom I was not connected. I get these a lot. After I post a photo of my son's cat, I will get inundated by unsolicited offers to become a "brand ambassador" for a line of cat toys. Just this week, I got a message from someone noting my affinity for singer Orville Peck and asking if I'd like to promote their similar-sounding songs. Both of these types of messages were deleted by me.

However, the message I received on Friday morning — the one that drew my attention away from a 60 year-old episode of the Fred MacMurray sitcom — asked if I was available for commissions.

I quickly responded that I was indeed and sent a link to the area of my website that details the steps to make one of my portraits your own. This person — who we'll call "Jimmy" — immediately and anxiously responded. He said he'd like me to draw his kids and sent me a photo of two young men standing on a driveway and looking like they'd rather not have their picture taken. I said I'd be happy to draw them once I received payment of $100 (the reasonable fee I mentioned earlier). I sent my wife's PayPal account info, reiterating that I would begin the drawing after I received payment. He asked for the PayPal user name on the account. I replied with an explanation that PayPal does not really employ "user names" like other payment apps and that the email address would be enough to accept payment.

He pressed for an account user name... somewhat relentlessly.

I spoke with Mrs. P, who assured me that — as I already knew — an email address is all that is required for PayPal payments. But, this guy Jimmy wasn't convinced. He pressed again and he pressed harder. Each of my explanations were met with an angry-toned "WHAT IS THE USER NAME" reply. Finally, Mrs Pincus logged into her PayPal account. She saw that PayPal recently added a "user name" that is essentially meaningless. It seems this useless addition was created to pacify those folks who were used to the "user names" associated with online payment upstarts Venmo and CashApp. I informed Jimmy of this new-found information and repeated the $100 fee and the proposed start time for his drawing. He asked if this was my first commission. I replied: "No. I have been doing this for forty years."

Then, I should have ducked to avoid the monkey wrench that Jimmy hurled at me.

"I am willing to support your artwork to the sum of $500," he said via text message in the Instagram app.

The biggest red flag began waving in my head! A red flag so big that it could bring the participants in the Indy 500 to a grinding halt. No one — and I mean no one offers five times the agreed-upon price to an artist whose name is not Picasso, Renoir or Dali. And especially one of questionable notoriety and named Pincus.

"Thank you," I quickly replied, "but $100 will be just fine. Please do not send more than $100 for a drawing."

"I am doing this willingly," Jimmy replied aggressively, "so don't worry about it, hun."

This sounded really, really fishy. "If you'd like me to do a drawing, please just send $100.," I repeated.

That was the last of our exchange. That was last night. So far, no PayPal payment has been received from Jimmy... nor do I think there will be.

The internet is filled with weirdoes. And they all know how to find me.

If you'd like a drawing and you're not a weirdo, you can contact me HERE.

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