In my Microeconomics class way back at the beginning of my part-time MBA program at GW School of Business I came across a fascinating case on the topic of competitive firms and markets. The case was in my textbook – Microeconomics (5th Edition),by Jeffrey M. Perloff .
We are all very familiar with outsourcing, offshoring and other implications of globalization. There is no question that labor cost arbitrage is a significant factor for companies to stay competitive in the new realities of global markets. And unless you are a victim of layoffs caused by outsourcing, you can fully appreciate “every day low prices” at your nearby big-box store or even not so big local vendor.
However, this particular case from the textbook got my attention because it was not about outsourcing of production of textiles or electronics and everything in between – the usual suspects. It was about the fine art, namely the paintings. The case was titled “Enter the Dragon: Masses Producing Art for the Masses”.
The general premise in the case is that due to falling communication and shipping costs Chinese firms entered the world market for “fine arts”. As everything with China manufacturing for the global markets, this process is highly industrialized. There are actually multiple factories, not just small shops, that produce paintings of all sorts (from oil-painted renditions of classic Western artist to “original” paintings of puppies, still life and landscapes) on mass production scale.
One of the companies mentioned in the case has two factories employing 10 original designers, 250 painters and over 500 assistant and supportive workers, like framers. There was one such painter quoted in the case who at the age of 26 has already painted about 20,000 copies of van Gogh’s works.
Apparently, this mass production industry is driving out of business many independent artists around the world.
For me this case is especially interesting, because it hits very close to home. I am not an artist, but this talent runs in the family. Here is the press release I would like to share:
Maryland resident and local high school student, 17 year old artist Margarita will present her recent paintings and drawings at the Yellow Barn Gallery in Glen Echo Park on February 25th and 26th from 12-5pm both days. This is her third time presenting work at the Yellow Barn, but it is her first individual gallery exhibition. The show is an exposition of her body of work from the last four years, some of which has been previously shown at the Yellow Barn, and ranges from oil paintings to drawings, from portraits and figure studies to still lives and landscapes.
Despite the range of work, there is a clear exploration of color and technique, and a maturity to the work that belies the age of the artist. Dedicated to technique, and extremely passionate about painting and drawing, Margarita has painted for almost 6 years, and had her first collective show at the age of 15 with the Yellow Barn High School Scholarship Class. She has had artwork included in “The Students of Glen Kessler” exhibition, as well as most recently, “The First Annual Yellow Barn Drawing Exhibition” alongside the works of Gavin Glakas, J. J. Bruns, and Walter Bartman last August.
This artist is remarkable not only because she is one of the thousands who withstand the Chinese competition around the world, but she also happens to be my daughter. Follow this link for a preview of some works that will be exhibited at the show. And if you happen to be around the area on those days, stop by at the Yellow Barn Gallery to enjoy the original fine art of the young and talented local artist.