By Richie Fawcett
The Studio Saigon has recently celebrated its 4th year Anniversary. This year however was very unlike other years, as the date coincided with the full lockdown of Ho Chi Minh City. As such there was no party as in previous years, instead we were locked down in the building with a Covid -19 F0 case found on the top floor of the building.
With 14 days locked in the Studio ahead of me, the potential for focusing on new art pieces was a very good prospect. So this was a creative time. Surrounded by materials and with a recent delivery of LED frames and handmade paper before the lockdown I turned to creating a series of original images that were an expression of the situation.
Over the last twelve months or so I’ve also started to update the Studio Saigon Website and make the online aspect of the concept stronger with a daily blog attached to this, set up the Studio Saigon You Tube Channel and tie the platforms together. The strategy is to shift away from social media and to use the website as the hub platform, by sharing out from the blog which reports the creativity that is turn, the source for evrything that comes out of The Studio Saigon. All this came in perfect timing with the Covid – 19 situation in Vietnam stopping all contact with social distancing and lockdowns resulting in no one visiting the Studio space for over 6 months.
The trend had been taking shape over the last twelve months, thus giving rise to market changes due to the forced Covid-19 situation. We started to witness a decline in the physical footfall visiting The Studio as far back as mid 2020. Business in the past was made up from casual visits from people on their lunch break after eating at the Poke restaurant opposite, private commissions for my signature city scapes and private parties in the bar area which were at least once per week, sometimes twice. In addition commercial art commisions for restuarants, hotles and bars along with occasional bar consultancy contracts made up quite a diverse yet solid set of revenue streams.
This balance of trade worked very well by not relying on just one revenue stream, but by diversification. In addition to the range of pen and ink originals, LED light pictures, and canvas prints mainly of Saigon but also other areas in Vietnam, we also offer a range of art centric accessories. These include table lamps, cushions, coasters, placemats, maps, note books and of course The cocktail Art of Saigon book with matching tote bags. These are perfect for gifts and recently with many people leaving Vietnam, thats exactly what they have been used for.
The core of the Studio Saigons concept is a three part formula made up between History Cocktails and Art and brought together in the form of the book mentioned in part 1, The Cocktail Art of Saigon. However all of these elements needed people to know about them, and with no guests on the horizon for the foreseeable future, the shift to up grade the online presence was the right move at the right time. With help from my good friend Dan Kings from DZK creative, he rebuilt my website from scratch and I must say he did a fantastic job. I learned from him how to manage the back office dashboard and take 100% control of the content and where it was going. It’s such a great feeling to see the results actually working with increased site visits to the virtual Studio via the daily posts on the blog and key word serches via google and the other platforms that all connect
I’ve seen over 3000 site visits since making the changes 2 moths ago, thats 1000 more people seeing my work than in 1 year of actual people visiting the gallery and studio in Saigon. Going back to why I believe cocktails and especially art are more important than ever, it’s because people need an escape from reality. Something different from all the news and something that transports you, with a little imagination, to anywhere in the world…or off it, for that matter.
All the effort to make the weakest part of the concept the strongest ( for now its all on-line ), was noticed, and in June I was signed up with a Tokyo art gallery which, without the new website, would not have happened. So far so good, at the moment The Studio Saigon is stable and continues to pay the rent independently weathering the strongets strom we have so far had to deal with. If there are lessons to learn from this case study, I would say diversification backed up with a strong on-line presence and consistent creativity will get you through the tough times. In short, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, put them some in a pan and make an omelette instead!
Please Check out the Channel if you have time, along with the link below to my new and regular blog feed “On The Blog” and website. Thank you for your support of The Studio Saigon and stay safe.