Dreamt of owning Starry Night but too timid to pull off a heist at the Van Gogh Museum? Then Shenzhen, China’s Dafen Art Village is your (relatively) lawful solution. In this odd corner of the world, one can purchase a hand painted reproduction of anything for roughly 100 to 500 Chinese RMB (15 to 80 USD) depending on the size and quality desired.
Twenty or so reproduction artists set up camp in Dafen in the early 1990s and since then many thousand have settled here to paint in the village’s copy workshops.
A sprinkling of real artists creating original art work have also taken up residence. One easy way to determine whether a particular shop specializes in copies or real art is simply to point at something you fancy and ask, “Do you have this smaller?” If they pull out a stack of duplicates in a range of sizes, you can peg the quality and price accordingly.
If you want your own portrait of Vladimir Putin (points for spotting him below), you can reach Dafen by taxi from Shenzhen’s Lo Wu Station in fifteen minutes for roughly 50 RMB. Show the taxi driver this: 大芬.
If your walls are already saturated with works by Thomas Kincaid, “Painter of Light,” then simply enjoy the mini-photo tour: