(This has been edited from its original state to clarify some points as a result of the first comment. I'm grateful for the opportunity.)
Regardless of how passionate you are about health care reform . . . regardless of what side you’re on . . .
It is not okay to send me and everyone else in your address book your opinions about the health care debate that is going on right now. In fact, it’s not okay to email me about anything but your art. (Don’t send me jokes, causes, or inspirational messages.)
UPDATE: DO send me personal stories that will help others with the business of art. Tips on how you got health insurance, etc. are great! Thoughtful analysis of what a particular provision in a health care bill will do for artists is also welcome. But don't forward bulk emails with others' opinions in them without personalizing it and making it your own.
Why? Because I’m not on your list because I asked to hear about health care. It's not that I don't care about your health or about health care reform in general. And it's certainly not that I don't care about the artist's plight to get decent health coverage. I hope you know me better than that by now. It's because of the following.
I know you because of your art and we have an unspoken agreement that that is what our relationship is about. I asked to be on your list because I wanted to hear about your art. In fact, that’s probably how you got me to sign up in the first place. I imagine you said something to this effect: “Would it be okay if I emailed you monthly updates about my art and career?” You didn’t ask if I’d be interested in hearing about health care or politics.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What would you think if I started emailing you my views about health care? I imagine you wouldn’t like it because you signed on to my list to hear about the art business! You REALLY wouldn’t like it if my views are different from your own.
If you have collected names for your art mailing list you must use that list only for your art. Don’t risk alienating your fans by sending polarizing email messages. It isn’t worth it! Not only do you risk losing names from your list, you risk taking advantage of others’ goodwill.
Guard your mailing list with your life. Treat the people on it as you would like to be treated–or better. As I’ve said many times before, that list is your #1 asset. Those are the people you’re cultivating to become collectors.
If you no longer want to receive email that you didn’t sign up for, protect your boundaries. This is how I reply to such emails.
I would love hearing about your art, but please remove me from your other mailing lists.
Thank you for respecting my wishes,
I used to just delete such messages, but I know I’ll keep getting them until I do something about it. Besides, I should be modeling professional behavior.