By DJ Robbins
Down the damp streets of Hoi An’s mango-colored ancient town, ladies in conical hats hawk eye brow threading, hollering men push one-hour boat rides, six-year old children sell packs of gum and dragonflies that balance on the tip of your finger… but nobody’s biting. Shop fronts slinging t-shirts, Camel shorts, chopsticks and lacquerware wholesaled from China and pieces of art copied over and over again, tenfold; the same prints found in every home of visitors who’ve passed through this ancient port town for the last 20 years of its touristic thriving- this is Hoi An’s souvenir scene.
Springing up from the bowels of mediocrity, a new shop front comes into existence: the Art Collective, Hay Hay. Boasting colorful, unique, creative and visually appealing designs, this art boutique offers all the things that tourists (and locals) actually want to bring back home; things that capture the essence of being in Hoi An, of being in Vietnam and traveling through Southeast Asia. Established by foreigners but filled with works by upcoming, unsung Vietnamese artists, this ray of touristic light shines down right next to the “Japanese Bridge”- one of the “Ancient Town’s” main attractions.
What makes this shop so different? Pretty much everything. The minimalist set up, the products inside, the entirely original artwork that doesn’t look like the things up for sale in every other shop front on every other street front, being sold for the highest price that someone will bite at… Hay Hay takes both the artists and the consumer into consideration, providing reasonably priced artworks & gifts (canvases, wood block prints, stationary, home wares etc.) that people are actually excited to buy and bring back home. It’s a new thing on the Hoi An tourist scene (selling something that people actually want), and Hay Hay seems to be thriving from the gap in the market.
“If we’re making money, the artists are making money” says Kiwi shop owner Shann. All the artists work on a commission-based salary, so whenever their piece of artwork sells, no matter what product it’s placed on- they get a cut from that sale. This way they are realizing that their works are selling, people do want their stuff, and they are encouraged to create and produce more beautiful works of art. Making a living off their passion and what they love to do, what could get better than that? Shop manager Ha explains (as one of the seven-featured Vietnamese artists himself), that Vietnamese artists are extremely talented and creative, they just don’t know how to properly market themselves. That’s where Hay Hay comes in.
From Ha’s detailed ink-on-canvas creations capturing the essence of life and raw emotion to colorful portrait explosions, subtle watercolor scenes and traditional Vietnamese style artworks, Hay Hay has it all. Get a taste for their eclectic creations at their shop front in Hoi An at 155 Tran Phu, or visit their website (www.hayhayhoian.com) for more information. Hay Hay is truly spreading their motto of Life, Love, Art throughout the country of Vietnam, one local artist at a time.
About the author:
Dan Robbins has been living and writing along Vietnam’s central coastline for over three years now. He loves music, travel, culture and all things that make life enjoyable. You can find him writing on a third floor balcony, traveling the dusty corners of the globe or at danieljamesrobbins.blogspot.com