Raw Artists

Pay-to-play, all the way for this art-fair scam. Artists are required to sell 20 tickets at $15-$20 each to show their work. Any unsold tickets are the responsibility of the artist to pay for if they want their work shown.
These shindigs usually include live music (bands who are lured into participating with the same ticket-selling scheme). So RAW offers a club (or other venue) owner free entertainment for the use of their venue for this “event”. The venues can charge a cover, and charge as they normally would for drinks, etc. and keep the profits, so they love the idea.
Read thru their FAQ and judge for yourself. https://www.rawartists.org/faqs

  • Anonymous

    Whether RAW and Conception Arts are run by the same people or not is not clear, because the names of the people who run them are nowhere to be found. At least I couldn’t find them, except for one founder. If the names of the owners are not clearly stated, that is a red flag.

    “In 2021, we introduced our PLATFORM by RAW Artists™ licensing program. All locations are now run by independent local creative entrepreneurs. These licensees choose their own artist value packages so some of what is listed here may vary and include more or less of a certain participation perk.”

    So they make their money these days by selling licenses. How convenient!

    “100 Exhibits, 8000 Artists Showcased, 7-figure + Sales Facilitated…
    What’s next?”
    That’s from Conception Arts’ social media post. You do the math!
    That 7-figure most likely went to the owner’s pocket. I would love to be proven wrong, but I’m not holding my breath. Next selling licenses?

    Conception Arts has so many followers on Instagram, but hardly any likes. That’s fishy. RAW hides their likes, that’s very fishy too. Both accounts are not promoting much art nor artists, just themselves. Why would I pay for that?

  • anonymous

    I was on the fence but now Im off!

    After signing up and trying to sell tickets with no success. I finally looked up reviews on this event with RAW. OMG! More negative than good. As of November 2019 the ticket sales are $25 each and we must sell 20. BUT… we can have 5 sold by the due date. That made me suspicious! So Im selling $500 worth of tickets for what? I tried every sales tactic I could think of to sell tickets. I thought I’d sell half and pay for the other half. BUT… me not being from this city or been here for a while my ticket sales would be to my family and friends in my hometown who will not be able to attend, so they arent buying tickets, heck they didnt even donate!

    I was a little dismayed to read that the spill they said to me they’ve said to everyone else! Here I was thinking my art was just that great that they “found” me on social media! (sad face emoji).

    So I’ll give my luck till the the due date. I’ve only sold 1 ticket and that was half of a donation from a family member.

    I have a dryer to be repaired sooooo… If 19 people dont come through then I’ll continue to be a “starving artist” with a fixed dryer.

    • Anonymous

      RAW is a scam. Because you have to bribe your mates to buy tickets, when they do arrive they’ll only buy from you if they feel obliged to, and often not from any other artists either. I saw a lot of empty-handed punters at the event in Australia. Its really just a social event with your friends with an entry fee, and not the “make connections with gallerists and exhibit all over the world” song they sing. Its all bollocks. Highly advise against it.

      Your money would be better spent actually getting a market stall and setting up shop that way for a weekend. Thats how I did it, and I kicked butt for 5 years while doing so.

  • CV

    I did a show with RAW in January 2019. I am completely new to the ‘art show’ scene, however, I’ve been an artist all of my life – currently, I’m 37. I admit I was worried about promoting enough and having all of the resources I needed by the day of the show. I think being creative and talented is not enough to be an artist these days. You must have some business sense. You must employ sound judgment which isn’t marred by other people’s fears. In other words, think for yourself. If you were offered an opportunity to do something you love for an exchange of x,y,z, would you do it? What are the trade-offs, risks, and rewards of this opportunity?
    RAW was transparent with me. Know what your own expectations are as you put yourself out there for the world to see your work. I was very satisfied with them because the energy was exciting, it’s a lot of work to put on a show, and I enjoyed sharing my work for the first time with the public. It’s a humbling experience when you see that many creatives making use of a platform as public and supportive as RAW. Yes, it is a live show: music, fashion, dance, visual art. You name it. They got it. I personally didn’t mind the ‘nightlife’ vibe. Then again, don’t expect spectators to be high-end connoisseurs of the trade, as you’d expect at a respectable fine art gallery. At the end of the day, with all of the unknown variables floating in front me I had to make a decision. I realized I wouldn’t know how it’s really like to work with them until – I actually worked with them. So I did it. And I don’t regret one minute of the process. You have to know where you are in your career. I’m looking forward to doing my second show with them out of state, which is for free, by the way (no ticket selling required). If this model works for you, you’ll know. If not, then go where you think you’ll fit in the best, where your methods of doing business are mutual. Simple as that.
    This is an awesome forum. I just hope that people make sound decisions for the right reasons, not on fear. Good luck on your path.

    • Anonymous

      I would like to hear your honest opinion, now more than four years after the event, whether it really benefited your career. Have you participated in other pay-to-play shows since then? How much have you sold your art?

  • Marie


    So Raw approached me about doing a show and I am on the fence about it. I have been reading through all the post and there are a lot of hate posts out there. I wanted to write a comment about my thoughts so far. No you can’t look on the site and find the fee breakdown, but that doesn’t mean they are a scam. I have worked with tons of events that operate like that. I do find it annoying, but I also get it. They don’t want you looking at a price tag and go “no, this is too much.” They are a company and all companies have a sale pitch, they want the opportunity to pitch it.

    I did sign up for the phone interview, before my interview I was sent a 5 minute video explaining how it worked and what the breakdown was. This allowed me to form my questions for an interview. I worked for Career Services at a large college and what I learned was an interview should never be on-sided. You are going to be working with them, so you need to interview them also.

    During the interview I found out I would need to sell 20 tickets for 22.50 in order to participate (I know that’s a lot and we will get to that), there is no commission taken off your work, and your not paying for the space. Now, I was also told I would have to pay the difference of what I didn’t sell to participate, I heard the word participate and that made me ask, what happens if I back out. Most place do not refund you. I was told that if I backed out I wasn’t charged anything and that people who had bought tickets were given the option of a refund.

    So, pay to play yes, can’t pay you just don’t go.

    I was told that I would receive $10 from any tickets I sold after the 20, so there is some compensation. After you fee is covered you get a cut.

    Now 22.50 x20 is 450 bucks, that’s a lot of money, but I also host events and they aren’t cheap, so again think about the background. Raw is a company, they have employees and they host events, both cost money. Events aren’t cheap and neither is employees, and they need to make money. Remember they are also letting you off if you can’t pay to play in the end, which means that portion still has to come from somewhere.

    Is $450 a lot for 4 hours, yes, is it worth it? I don’t know, I haven’t signed up yet. Like you I am still trying to make a decision, but I wanted to put some real information as to my experience and thoughts so far on Raw. Do I have some reserves? yes. Is it to go to be true? Maybe. Is in an MLM? No. If I choose to participate I will let you know what it’s like, maybe I will give it a go just to put some accurate information out there for other people.

    • Scotty J

      Hi my name is Scotty J and I have just been signed up for the Raw artist exhibition in chicago. After reading alot of reviews over the past few days I have come to the conclusion that this is an event that allows you to meet and network with other artist and give a platform for you to possible sell your art. So really its just exposure, which is fine for me. I think this event is perfect for adding something to your portfolio if you have never done an art event. I don’t think this is something that a more establish artist can benefit from. You do have to pay 450 for the tickets if none are purchased which is the negative to the positive. Overall I’m excited to add this to my portfolio and add some experience under my belt.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad I got this link, I was actually considering signing up for this bullshit. I thought something seemed off, a serious thank you to the creators of this page. I will definitely be back to this site for future reference!

  • RAW and Conceptions Artist

    WOW WOW WOW…. RAW and Conception arts are two very different organizations, first of all.

    Second of all they are not a “scam”. I have participated in NY, Chicago and will be doing shows in California because I have made sales at these art fairs. Yeah you have to pay $300 and it’s a little steep but I wouldn’t call it a scam considering they’re transparent about this fee from the very get. You know exactly what you’re getting in to and you get out of the show what you put in it.

    Clearly someone is very upset that they are going around bashing these two companies and can’t even differentiate between the two, which further weakens their accusations.

    • Anonymous

      I too have been doing shows with both RAW and Conception Arts (which are very clearly different companies) over the past year and haven’t found any evidence that either of these two companies are a “scam”. These accusations are obviously the result of just a few petty individuals that don’t like the pay-to-play model and obviously don’t understand what a pyramid scheme is or how it works.

      If you are new artists looking to get exposure for your art and haven’t done an art show\fair before then I highly recommend these companies. They are informative and will walk you through the whole process from start to finish. They offer a tremendous service to the arts communities they are involved with.

    • Z

      NO, they are not transparent about the fee. There is no mentioning on their website about this fee, can you show us the link where they describe these costs? You only find out about it by the end of the phone interview, which in my case, I am the one who paid for that international phone call. They APPROACHED me and invited me to this show, yet they refused to send an invitation and they refused to sign a written contract. Which makes no sense and immediately shows it is a scam. RAW and Conceptions Arts use the exact same pyramid scheme, the recruitment is word for word, the price is also identical. Related or not, they are both the same scam.

      Furthermore, a big part of the artists listed on Conception Arts website are fake profiles, leading to non-existent links, you can check that yourself, and a big part of the rest appear to be employees who made a doodles page with a few random drawings for the organization to recruit more victims. Definitely not artists at ” the tipping point of their careers”. Their sole target is the ARTISTS, to scam them of 300$. Also, the website pages of Conception Arts are empty, with no record of previous events, interviews, photos, listed artworks. This is fake: ” Conception provides a variety of services aimed at assisting artists in the promotion and development of their work. Conception introduces collectors and investors to artists that are at the tipping point of their careers.”

  • Ina

    I have to say RAW changed their name to Conception Arts or Conception Arts is an affiliate of the RAW scam. Beware, Conception Arts is a scam, the same scam. And they recently launched open calls.

    Thank you for the info that prevented me to become a victim to this pyramidal scheme.

  • Karen Landrigan

    Conception Arts is a scam. Went to Dallas and it was a waste of time and money. They didn’t market it. I know because I went to the galleries – they had never heard of it. Also it didn’t give out a prize. Friends came to see it and I was really embarrassed.

      • Z

        Conception Arts is the same pay-to-play scam. You have to pay 300$ for a ‘panel” in a brewery by selling tickets to your own friends and family, which are the only visitors attending. Even if I am in Europe, so it makes no sense for me to do this, they would not even be able to attend (not to mention that the whole concept is a spiel to make the artist pay for their own show and bring visitors as well, how disgusting). They sent me an email and made me make an appointment with a lady for an “interview” and at the time of the interview, the lady, apart from being late to the appointment, wrote me a message telling me “she doesn’t have international calls” so I had to call her myself (which I shouldn’t have done, it was the first big red flag). And then she described the scam to me, in addition explaining that for international artists, they are not offering any invite to the so-called event (I can come, if I “happen to be in Los Angeles at the time”). A total joke and charlatanism. All they want is 300$ from you.

  • Dolores Jablonski

    I too was contacted this past October, the person that contacted me had an etsy site. I became suspious when I had to speak to a person to set up an interview. And there was no mention of the show in Wisconsin. Stay away!

  • anonymous

    After reading this I went to their website. This organization tried this scam six or seven years ago in Tucson, AZ. None of the artists I know including myself went for it. I had no idea it was an international scam.

  • Anonymous

    This organization approached me in Tucson, AZ. some six or seven years back. I laughed at them. I see Tucson is not noted as a city they are in. The reason they are not listed in Tucson is none of the artists I know and I have been in the community for over 20 years would go for it.

  • Lawrence Robincini

    We are going to contact the Canadian government and United States government to look into this scam. We are going to be filing the papers at the end of this week. My attorney is doing so. If anyone is out there thinking about getting involved in this scam do yourself a favor and walk away.

  • Melissa

    Same – though I thought Conception operated on its own. I got a request from RAW after conception and another artist did too. Asked to pay $20 for 15 tix (300 total); was told hundreds of professional art dealers or collectors would be informed. No one showed up; no press releases were sent out. No social media marketing done before the event to notify people that this was happening. The coordinators seemed to target young emerging artists (asking me if I’d ever done a show). A costly experience with little to no returns (I met some cool artists and that was it)

  • anonymous

    Just got suckered into this. Going by the name Conceptions Art. Their business website is fair but the personal webpage they promise never materialized. Initally my guest couldn’t purchase tickets and after I complained it was fixed 4 days before the event. It was in a huge space with 42 other suvkers like me! 15 tickets each or $250.00 per person. SMH do the math!

  • anonymous

    I fell for this scam initially and backed out at the last minute. The venues are places that normally charge little or no door fee, yet artists are expected to sell 15/20 tix.

  • Max Shiffman

    Second this. RAW is a raw deal. reminded me of “battle of the bands” type scams for musicians run by Gorilla Productions. if you’re responsible for finding people to (pay to) come, you’re better off throwing your own event.

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