No, VIDA, you can’t have my photos…

Here’s my issue with telemarketers and cold calls.  They give you this whole crock about how they love your (writing, photos, look) and they want to (promote your work, hire you for events, cast you in a movie), and although they (have no budget, want you to pay, still want you in the movie), they really want to have you accept (being paid in exposure, being supportive of charities, wear a bag over your face because you’re too ugly to be in the movie).

I pick and choose my charitable donations very carefully.  And I mean VERY carefully.  So when someone from a company called VIDA cold-emailed me about wanting to use my photos as part of a line of clothing and accessories … with the proceeds going to charitable Middle Eastern efforts … it intrigued me.

Then I actually read their pitch.

And it went from “I’m intrigued” to “what kind of horseshit are you trying to push me into?”

Let me share.

Here’s the e-mail to me from VIDA.

I’m reaching out as I think you’re artwork is absolutely perfect for VIDA. Here at VIDA, we work with well known illustrators, photographers and artists from around the world to professionally manufacture their artwork as high quality apparel and accessories like silk scarves and tops. VIDA is backed by Google Ventures, and our mission is to work with artists to showcase their products to the world.

Collaborating with VIDA would allow you to launch a fashion brand and product line from your original artwork. We’ve seen a bit of your artwork, and we really think there could be an incredible synergy between your aesthetic and our products.

My name is Erica, and I manage Artist Relations here at VIDA, and I’d love to see if we can find a way to collaborate with you. Also, each of our artists receives a portion of net revenues shared back for each of their designs sold.

As part of our artists recruitment team, I would be thrilled if you would join us as a VIDA artist by submitting your artwork to In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, please reply to this email directly. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

We would be deeply honored to have the opportunity to work with you.

Thank you so much for your time. Have a wonderful day.


Right off the bat, if a major company has problems understanding the difference between “your” and “you’re”, they’ve lost me.  Then they go into the script about how my photos can help sell clothing, which in turn would help provide educational opportunities for people in impoverished nations.

Yeah … something wrong with this.

So I tried a little experiment.  I wrote back to “Erica Carter” and asked her the following.

Ms. Carter – thank you for your kind letter. I would be very interested to find out more about what VIDA has with regard to my artwork.

I am curious, though … which of my art pieces did you find most intriguing and suitable for partnering with your company? For example, many of my friends find that my photo “Conway Speaks at Commencement” is very striking and would be something they would be interested in having framed on their wall or worn as part of their clothing. I’m wondering if the piece “Conway Speaks at Commencement” caught your attention as well.

Looking forward to hearing from you. All the best.

– Chuck Miller

Yep.  I want to see if this was legit, so I put in a “honeypot” response to their letter.  This “honeypot” will attract lying bugs instantly.

So here we go, “Erica Carter.”  If you happened to say to me that, “Oh yes, I was captivated by your AGFA Bridge Over Ansco Lake photo,” or “I love that Jesus Saves shot of the neon sign with the lightning,” or even “How did you get that neon shoe to dance in your Step and Pivot photo,” then I would certainly invest in VIDA.

If “Erica Carter” tells me, “Oh yes, that Conway Speaks At Commencement photo was marvelous,” I would immediately know that I’m dealing with bullshit artists.  Wow.  I used horseshit and bullshit in the same blog post.  Holy garden manure, Batman… one month on the new blog and I’m already developing a potty mouth.

Well, I was right.  “Erica Carter” responded back.  Or, more specifically, someone else responded on behalf of “Erica Carter.”  And the chickenshit just kept on piling up.

VIDA Support (VIDA)

Apr 26, 04:58 PDT
Hello Chuck,

Thank you for reaching out to us.

Apologies, it was actually a colleague of mine who originally found your work online. I’m actually not sure exactly on which site she found it. We all keep an eye out for amazing artists whose work we each love and we share our favorites with the team. I will be happy to give you more information. VIDA Discover gives any artist or designer from around the world the ability to create their own VIDA products using their original artwork and/or photographs and promote their products to their existing fans and customers as well friends and family. VIDA Discover designs can be in any art medium that you work with – oil paintings, watercolor, charcoal sketches, photography, or any other choice of artistic medium. We welcome all forms of expression that can be printed on fabric. You can view the full site at

There are no fees to be a designer with VIDA Discover. All design and production costs are already included in the sale price of your products. Your commission amount would be 10% of the net sales of all your collection items sent to production. We have researched the industry and found that 7-10% seems to be the standard rate offered. VIDA does cover all of the manufacturing, page creation, ordering, packaging, etc. This was taken into account when we decided on the rate we would offer. You can view our contract by visiting the following link:

Our design tool makes the process simple! All you have to do is sign up at and upload an image when prompted. You choose exactly how you’d like your designs to appear. The item will be approved and a personal shop page created for you within 72 hours of submitted your newly designed item. Finally, you will receive an email from us letting you know your page is live and that you can start promoting right away!

We hope this helps. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Thanks again and have a great day.

Best –

Nalani // VIDA Design Team

Yeah … you just lost me after “it was a colleague of mine who found your work online.”  Essentially, now you’ve been caught in a lie and you’re trying to cover your tracks with more lies.  And as for “Erica Carter”?  Ten bucks says this woman is about as real as Betty Crocker or Mrs. Butterworth.

Just for the hell of it, I checked out VIDA’s terms of service for use of artists’ product.  And the more I read … the less I wanted to associate myself with this company.  And trust me, I really do want to support charitable endeavors.

But this sounds less like a charitable endeavor and more like a swindle, in my not-so-humble opinion.  Just another Internet spammer trying to separate my money and my product from my person.  Not happening.  Not now, not ever, never.  Buh-bye, VIDA.  Maybe someone else can get involved in your company.

But don’t forget that old adage – one never gets a second chance to make a first impression.

And your first impression to me bordered on batshit.