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Got my first order today, can't wait for second...and third!

Posted: Jan 6, 2011 12:05 pm
by Joseph.K
Hi Gary,

I just got my first order, and Koi Fish and the Bamboo in charcoal. They arrived in excellent condition and look great. Thank you. I also appreciated the currency, its very interesting and a nice touch - a souvenir from the early part of the cultural revolution.

In giddy anticipation I look forward to receiving my next order, the batik and Custom Wall scroll - "Dont Panic." I know I won't be disappointed. I am already eying a few more pieces for my next order, although I better control myself, or I wont have enough money to get all these framed any time soon. Oh well, buy now, frame later!!

I just wanted to say how amazed/impressed/thankful I am to have found your site. I was browsing Ebay for artwork and I kept finding these knock offs from China of popular artists. I thought instead of buying an original that is an imitation of a western style, I'd try to find the genuine article: Oriental Art by Orientals. Ebay was a dead-end for that en devour though, you never know what you are getting. So I thought I would just Google it. "Asian Paintings" displayed hardly anything of interest except at the bottom of the page I saw I site claiming to have to have paintings and wall scrolls at discount prices. Another trap, I thought, but I clicked on it anyways. After looking through the site and reading the stories of the artists and what you had to do to make this all possible, I realized your site was exactly what I was looking for.

Thank you so much for bringing authentic, quality artwork from China to the World. I have read "Life and Death is Shanghai" and I am currently reading "Wild Swans." These books have given me a glimpse of the profound impact the cultural revolution has had on Chinese artists and thinkers. You truly provide a invaluable service for the Chinese and the rest of the world by providing a means for everyone to enjoy these great works.

Thank you so much and keep up the good work!

Joe K.

Posted: Jan 21, 2011 1:30 am
by Gary
You're very welcome.

Back when I started in 2002, I used to sell on ebay. Back then, if you typed in "Asian Art", the ebay search would come back with 45 of my listings, and about 5 others.

Soon enough, a bunch of sellers started to copy me. They'd steal my stories, descriptions, text, and even the images (I have no idea what they were actually selling, as they were using images that I'd shot in my little studio in Beijing).

The people who run ebay would do little to enforce copyrights, so I left in disgust and have been a stand-alone website ever since.

The differences with the way I do it:

1. I know at least 90% of the artists personally. In fact, I call them friends. When earthquakes happen, or they are buying a new home, I loan them money. When I have a disaster, they loan me artwork. We take care of each other.

When I visit them, I eat with them, am invited to sleep in their homes, drink lots of tea with them, and occasionally get drunk with them. It's not a typical western style business relationship. When my wife or I phonel an artist because I need a painting, it's often a two-hour phone call, and as I hang up, I realize that I forgot to ask for the painting I needed.

2. It would be easy and more profitable to chain a bunch of artists to desks in a warehouse. Instead, all the artists I deal with are independent. They have their own studio, or some work from their homes. They set the price, or we negotiate a fair price. Most of the artists I work with have improved their station in life since I started buying artwork from them. Many of them live at a higher level than I do (since I am now living in the USA, where the cost of living is 5 times higher).

3. We make our own wall scrolls in our own workshop. I get to be picky about quality that way. We're putting out near-museum-quality wall scrolls at the price you'd pay at a basic or discount art gallery in China for rubbish.

I'm crazy in this way, as I woke up one morning, tired of the crappy supply of wooden knobs that I could get on the art supply market. I bought a bunch of oak, mahogany, and beechwood, got on a lathe, and designed/prototyped a new knob. I then flew to Ningbo in Zhejiang Province and found a furniture knob company who could produce 20,000pcs of my special better knob design. They may not be perfect, but they are 10 times better than what you typically find on wall scrolls.

Anyway, that's a bit about how things are behind the scenes for you.


Posted: Jan 21, 2011 12:48 pm
by Joseph.K
Hi Gary,

Your site has re-ignited my interest in Chinese culture and my desire to visit the country. I was first turned on to Chinese thought and culture through my ancient Chinese philosophy courses I took in college (I am a philosophy major). I always wanted to visit, but in order to do that effectively and get off the main tourist track of busing from one photo op to another, I feel it is necessary to learn the language. Well, I decided to do it, and I am going to dedicate this year to learning Chinese.

So my question for you is, what is your advice for learning Chinese. I see that Mandarin is the "official" language so I got Rosetta Stone: Mandarin Chinese to start. Is Mandarin the way to go here? Do you think I should study pinyin over traditional styles of writing? I've read I need to focus on the tones and pronunciation before I start committing words and phrases to memory. Any advice would be appreciated.

The Batik arrived and looks great. My Bamboo charcoal drawing is currently being framed and I plan on posting a pic of the final produce when I get it. It should be stunning. I had to put off framing the koi fish because its going to cost a pretty sum for the frame I want on it, but I'll post that too when I get it. It's going to be beautiful.



Posted: Jan 27, 2011 9:26 pm
by Gary
Honestly, the best way to learn Chinese is to go there, and be immersed. It's baptism by fire, but it works. Unfortunately, I learned Mandarin Chinese in bars and taxicabs first. I then got a tutor and took a college course after realizing that I had learned "street Chinese".

I haven't tried Rosetta Stone, but the main shortcoming is that I doubt it can check your pronunciation.

You will learn pinyin first, then move on to reading and writing characters. Being able to read them is more important, as you can just type pinyin and pick the character you want via one of several kinds of IMEs (programs for inputting Asian characters in Windows computers).