Shenzhen Dafen Art Village Photo Gallery

Located in the northern suburbs of Shenzhen, Dafen is famous for cheap imitations of famous Western paintings. Home to over 1200 galleries, this art community started by a Hong Kong artist in 1989 thanks to its cheap rents. Others followed to create imitations for export.

The galleries pack the numerous alleys that criss-cross this small suburban area.

Workers create their imitation art between buildings in the outdoors, sheltered by make-shift canopies so the weather won't affect them. Oftentimes, they work off an image of the desired painting in a cell phone.

Once a major exporter, Dafen came under crisis as the rest of the world tumbled in 2008. Now, artists are looking domestic to fill in the gap. China's growing middle class is helping business recover. But Dafen's fame has also come back to haunt the galleries in the form of skyrocketing rents and labour prices.

The artists are talented and well-trained, but making a living with their own works proves difficult, so they need to create imitations to survive. Some 5000 artists work in Dafen.

Roam around the alleys, watch the studios in action, and grab a painting for your living room.

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