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Artist uses sand for success

Updated: 2016-12-15

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As with many artistic discoveries, they are often stumbled upon by accident. It is said that renowned Dada artist Man Ray first created the solarization process by accidentally switching the lights on for a brief second in his darkroom.

Similarly, Zhanjiang artist-cum-businessman Chen Rong has stumbled across a new way of bringing sand paintings to life, and in the process created a successful business – Panzheng Cultural Communications.

Chen Rong shows a French painter how to create art with sand. [zjphoto.yinsha.com]

By mixing cheap sand with metal wires, instead of a more expensive glaze, Chen is able to create painted enamel works with a great range of color and vibrancy.

The new process allows for art works to be produced at much lower costs, without sacrificing the aesthetic quality.

Chen first opened a workshop in early 2014, passing on his skills to his apprentices and further evolving his unique technique.

One of Chen Rong's sand paintings depicts the beauty of nature. [Photo by Chen Rong/paper.gdzjdaily.com.cn]

At first, the workshop struggled to turn a profit and became burdened by heavy debt, but Chen was not to be deterred, and despite fracturing his leg in an accident that same year, he carried on painting and teaching.

"I love sand painting so I stuck with it," says Chen. "I had to find new ways to increase output."

By mid-2014, the workshop was producing an array of works such as waterproof and relief paintings. With the help of the government, Chen established Panzheng Cultural Communications in Zhanjiang's scientific enterprises incubator in late 2014. At the incubator he received professional guidance and advice on integrating local features and cooperating with travel agencies, putting him on the right track.

A vibrant sand painting created by Chen Rong. [Photo by Chen Rong/paper.gdzjdaily.com.cn]

By the end of the year, Chen had obtained two patents and sold paintings in Singapore, Australia and the US.

To expand the online business, Chen signed a cooperative deal valued at 5 million yuan ($726,850) with a Shenzhen-based design company, designating it as its only sales agent.

"It's far from being a complete success just yet," says Chen. "But I will continue striving for it. My goal is to sell Zhanjiang-featured sand paintings far and wide so people can find out more about this great city."