Blog / 2016 / Sheree Keys and the Global Artist Academy: A Conversation About Pay-to-play Promotion

May 17, 2016

If you’re an artist with any kind of a web presence, it’s almost certainly happened to you. Someone contacts you out of the blue to tell you that your art is amazing and that they want to feature you in their online magazine or in a book. They include a link to their site so you can get a feel for what they do and see if the partnership is right for you. So far, so normal.

But the moment you get to their site, something seems off. It’s a sales pitch instead of a portfolio site or proof of the other creative’s worthiness as a collaborator. After reading a whole lot of text, you finally make it to the point: you will have to pay this person to feature your art.

Mostly, these strange conversations happen in the privacy of our inboxes, but recently I was approached by Sheree Keys of Global Artist Academy publicly. I’m reproducing our conversation here so that everybody—artists and pay-to-play promoters—can learn something from it.

Sheree Keys

I took a step back from the conversation at this point because Sheree had just named my emotions. This is a persuasion tactic, which Sheree may or may not have used consciously. Telling the person you’re talking with what they’re feeling sets up a power dynamic and often triggers a strong reaction from the person whose emotions have been categorized.

While I collected my thoughts, the lovely and talented Charlotte Hager contributed to the thread.

Sheree Keys

In my thirteen year career, I have never needed to pay someone to promote my art, and I don’t think any artist needs to.

Lorena Kloosterboer

I’ve been published in multiple books, including Painting in Acrylics by Lorena Kloosterboer.

Chris Cozen

And also Acrylic Color Explorations by Chris Cozen. What’s more, none of my press—not even this beautiful video—has been pay-to-play.

In fact, I would consider it a personal favor from the universe if pay-to-play promoters (also known as “advertisers” or even “spammers” in certain instances) stopped approaching me. Conversations with them suck up my brain space. When they bully me by saying that, if I disagree with their business method, I must not have any business sense, it makes me feel protective towards other artists. I can’t stop thinking about what I might do in order to stop the pay-to-play promoters from crapping on other creatives who don’t think the pay-to-play route is cool.


Receive an email every six weeks with announcements about books, talks, and events.


Receive an email whenever I publish a new artwork or article.



Microdonations are the fuel powering this art machine. You can give once through Ko-fi.


Or you can give on an ongoing basis automatically through Patreon.