In this holiday season, if you are considering buying art as a gift or for yourself, buy "the real thing." Of course, I’m not saying you must buy an original. Limited-editions and legitimate reproductions make wonderful gifts. What I’m saying and the point of this blog: Don’t buy a knock-off of someone else’s blood, sweat and tears.
I saw a great post on Pinterest the other day. It said: "He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
I’ve got a few lines to add to that: He who copies the work of an artist to sell as his own is the scum of the earth. He who buys knock off art steals the soul of the artist and perpetuates this disgusting industry.
Thomas Arvid is an amazing artist. A wine enthusiast, he tapped into a niche with beautiful art to appeal to other wine enthusiasts. At The Art Shop, we were thrilled to discover and carry his work as his career was taking off. Lenny and I attended ArtExpo in New York the following year and saw row after row of booths selling cheap imitations of his work. We were not surprised. It’s a lot easier to tap into someone else’s success than it is to create your own niche. It’s also very profitable.
Roughly 60% of all knock-off art is sold in Dafen, a small village in southern China. The 700 reproduction shops within a 2.5 square mile area house about 3000 painters who work from photographs of the originals. Many of the workers had no art training until they went through a three-month gallery-sponsored art training course. They work in assembly line fashion. One painter paints only skies, another may paint mountains. This continues down the line until the painting is complete. Each year millions of paintings are created in this one little Chinese village and are exported throughout the world, including the United States and Europe.
When you see a Pino or another artist being sold very inexpensively on Ebay, this is what you are most likely getting – the work of a dozen or so poor Chinese assembly-line workers. It will never escalate in value and you will probably never be able to resell it. The old saying "You get what you pay for" applies in this case.
Buyer Beware: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Get or give "The Real Thing."