There was a time a few years ago when a small town in China produced up to 60% of the world’s oil paintings.
That town is called Dafen, and is on the outskirts of Shenzhen (which itself has seen a boom in innovation output in recent years).
Dafen specialised in a small trade in original artwork, but was best known for one thing:
Making most of the replica oil paintings in the world.
Thousands of small artists workshops would copy famous paintings by western painters, like Da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Andy Warhol.
The craftsmanship was extremely high quality, due to the number of times a painter would practice perfecting the replica and churning out copy after copy.
You could say without a doubt that these painters were extremely skilled. Far better at oil painting that almost anyone else in the world.
Yet they didn’t create anything original.
Every painting was a copy.
So can we say that their output was creative?
No, it was not creative.
This is a perfect example of why skill and creativity may often be related, but are not the same thing.
But skill is not enough.
In this case, demand as driving the output of non-original work. These was a clear market for it.
Just not for the painter to become an artist.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 to see how the story continues…
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
- Zombie ideas and Vampire ideas - January 21, 2022
- Podcast S6E147: Natalie Nixon – Embrace the chaortic nature of improvisational organisations - January 20, 2022
- What the lie about 8 wet, cold monkeys can tell us about the dangers of storytelling - January 19, 2022
- How travel can improve your creativity - January 18, 2022