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Things handmade and handwritten have a special appeal to me -- perhaps it's something about the humanness of their imperfection and scale. Who doesn't like to find a real letter in the mailbox amidst the stack of bills and solicitations? Postmarked from France, I turned the envelope over in my hands and opened it with curiosity.

Written on stationery imprinted with two pretty leaves in the upper left and a return address of "Suzanne Lopez, 1 rue du 11 Novembre, 64340 Boucau France," it was dated June 28, 2010, and read as follows:

Dear Ms. Sky Pape,
I am 16 years old and Art is my passion. I'm writing to you to express my admiration and my enthusiasm for your artistic way and for your works, your creations - I find them wonderful.

I would be very happy to have your autograph on the small card I'm sending you, for my 'imaginary Museum'...

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
Suzanne




Sweet, right? For about a second, I was flattered. It was just that part about putting my "autograph" on the small card, a blank, white index card, that had all my alarms going off in a deafening cacophonous din. I am not saying I don't have fans, only that I happen to know personally or virtually almost every kind soul who has collected or ever admired my work. Clearly, this was a case for some detective work (i.e., Google), if there ever was one.

In a matter of seconds, I found my answer in an article by Sarah Hall from the Salisbury Post, dated June 27, 2008. Ms. Hall, a composer, had received the same letter, essentially verbatim, from Suzanne Lopez - with the notable exception that back in 2008, Suzy was claiming to be 17, and "music is my passion." According to Ms. Hall, she heard from people from across the US and Europe who had received the same letter.

Having been a victim of identity theft in the past (a nightmare to be sure!), I had no intention of sending my easily scannable signature to anyone. Still, though this reeked of being a scam, it seemed like a very expensive one, having someone write letters by hand and pay for postage? For what ends? What does a signature even mean anymore? Maybe this "imaginary museum" was just the pet project of some oddball who thought they needed to pass themselves off as a teenage girl in order to get the desired response.

It's hard for me to imagine what this person would want with my signature. It's not as if my work is anything that could be easily forged and then have my signature appended to it for authenticity. (Though BEWARE, some work is indeed much easier to rip off -- case in point: Lori McNee and the copycat artist.)

Continued here: Drawn Together

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Tags: Lopez, Suzanne, art, autograph, fan, fraud, letter, mail

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