ED Magedson – Founder
the starving artist groupInternet United States of America
Don't be fooled by the traveling 'rip off' road show by a company called the Starving Artists Group, Inc., based in Houston, Texas, and owned by D. James Stringer (aka DJ Stringer or Jim Stringer) and Gildete Stringer. When this fly-by-night outfit comes to town, it bombards local television stations with slick ads offering "original oil paintings" for $59.00 and less, and cheap frames manufactured in Mexico. I've checked the Texas corporation records and this company IS NOT IN GOOD STANDING.
I attended one of these scam sales over the weekend at a local hotel. Here's what I discovered:
A conference room inadequate to accommodate the rather large crowd drawn in by the glitzy local television ads, promising 'original oil paintings' for $59.00 or less.
No official company representative on duty to assist the buying public with questions about the inventory.
No marketing materials of any kind that would put a prospective buyer on notice of the true identity of the company selling the merchandise. Nothing but cheesy white sheets of paper with the prices of the poster art noted. I took the liberty of picking one up. View the cheesy "Starving Artists Price List", below:
Also notably absent were any certificates or other documentary evidence that gave any indication as to the identity of the artists who were to have produced the work being advertised and sold at this event, much less any documentary evidence in support of the claims that Mr. Striker and his company, the Starving Artists Group, Inc. were in fact selling "original oil paintings" by authentic living artists.
All of the workers (all conveniently stationed at the cash registers) at this sale sported self-adhesive name tags on which were written in marker, names like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Lady Bug". Interestingly, when I asked "Lady Bug", who claimed to be a new employee, if I could speak with the person in charge of the event, she directed me to "Edward Scissorhands". No one who worked there had a legitimate name.
When I asked "Edward Scissorhands" (the manager in charge of the event) if he could show me an "original oil painting", he was dumbfounded and directed me to look about the room, that the entire inventory in the room was "original oil" on canvas. I told him that unfortunately, all I was able to find in their inventory were cheap, ink jet prints on inferior canvas. When I pressed him on the false advertisements and representations they were making, he finally admitted to me that they were indeed selling prints and not 'original oil paintings' as advertised.
All of the workers we talked with represented the multiple poster art prints as "original oils on canvas". The worker "Lady Bug" told me that the artists were all students attending "Phoenix Art School". The manager (Scissorhands) told me that the art all came from European artists.
The public purchasing art at this event actually believed they were purchasing original oil paintings by actual working artists (and I'm not talking about assembly line artists here). Many felt that they had gotten a great bargain and had made a great investment. A lady proudly exclaimed to her husband and friends that she just loved the technique of the artist who painted her piece when in fact there were 50 or 100 exact duplicates in the inventory inside that room with different artists names applied to the work, and always either the last name like "Graves" or "Smith" or first initials with last names like "E. Roberts" or "T. Mann".
The bottom line: Don't be fooled. If you want to invest in "authentic original art", it just can't be done at these types of sales because no matter what they advertise, no matter what they tell you, they are not selling "original oil paintings". They are selling cheap prints that come out of a wholesale warehouse somewhere.
These fly-by-night operations (much like traveling carnies selling snake oil) must be stopped from their continual fraudulent trade practices. The company, Starving Artists Group, Inc., in particular, should be worried as they happen to be situated in Texas which has a pretty mean DTPA (Deceptive Trade Practices Act) on the books.
If there are others who have had the same experience, please post here. I am going to request that Fine Art Registry investigate Starving Artists Group, Inc. just as they have Park West Gallery. It is these types of bogus sales that continue to hurt the legitimate artists, printers, and publishers in the marketplace.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with buying poster art or cheap prints as decorative pieces. But there is something terribly wrong with representing poster art or prints as 'original oil paintings' when in fact they ARE NOT!
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/12/2011 04:33 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/the-starving-artist-group/internet/the-starving-artist-group-these-guys-dont-represent-themselves-correctly-internet-681834. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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