Friday, August 04, 2006

Insa-dong insights

With the purpose of making a scroll for a friend who's buying one of my Wonhyo pieces (see here), I dropped my artwork off in Insa-dong, Seoul's most famous art district. The scroll will be ready next Thursday. The cost of "enscrollment" is W17,000 (chopped down from W20,000), which is not too bad, though still not the W15,000 I'd been hoping for. I shopped around some other places on the strip and heard some ridiculous price quotes. One gentleman said he could make a scroll for W30,000, but would drop the price to W25,000 since my artwork was small in size. How nice of him. At another shop, a lady looked me straight in the eye and said she could make me a small scroll for W40,000. Ha!

The W25,000 gent said something interesting: "Buying a prepared scroll (i.e., with artwork mounted on it) is cheap; it's more expensive to have a scroll made." I had written to a friend of mine hypothesizing that one major reason for this was that the scrolls you find in Insa-dong shops generally aren't original artwork: they're prints. Scrolls of those prints are made en masse, which reduces the cost of production; the prints themselves probably cost next to nothing to make. Sell one of those prints for W20,000, and you're making quite a decent profit. I have a huge tiger print scroll that cost me W35,000; I'm sure most of that money was for the scrollwork and not the artwork. I'd love to own the original, but I suspect the original would run me over W100,000 (about $100, US).

So, given the abundant leeches along the main drag, I was happy to have found a scroll-maker who charged a decent, fair price. There's another shop that charges even less for scrolls (when I checked last year, they were charging W15,000), but it wasn't open this evening. The folks at that shop know me; I've visited them several times before.

Before I go, a word to you female furriners shopping in Insa-dong: I like the way you dress. All that amazing cleavage! But I gotta say... most of you have no idea how to shop in Insa-dong. Not that I'm an expert, but when I see you and your titties cooing over worthless trinkets, I realize you're not so different from the gimlet-eyed Korean customers at the recent Smoo student bazaar-- the ones who pretended to know shit about art. It's funny to see the difference in how two cultures handle ignorance while shopping: in the Korean case, ignorance prevents one from recognizing a good thing and buying it for a decent price. In the Western case, ignorance makes one flip out and buy just about any random piece of crap.

Ah, yes-- speaking of titties...

UPDATE: The "titties" link is giving me a "server not found" error message. However, when I cruised over to the Enjoy Every Sandwich blog and clicked the "permalink" link at the bottom of the post in question, the same error message came up. Blogger's still got some quirks to work out. This is the third bad link in two weeks. I don't know what goes wrong between the time I create a hyperlink in a post and the time immediately after I hit "publish," but things are apparently getting scrambled.

UPDATE 2: The link works now.


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