The Popularity of Food Miniature Artists in China Skyrockets

Increased freelance work (freelance) and work on temporary contracts, has given rise to gig economy or a free labor economy that is gaining popularity as an employment trend in China, especially among mini-food artists.

Driven by the convenience of technology, the freelance labor market is playing an increasingly important role in China’s economy as well as opening up new spaces for artists.

One of the artists, a woman named Pan Baoxin, has been making mini-foods since 2020. She is a Chinese artist who turns food into handicrafts, while making a profit. Inspired by the many great artisans and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pan started making mini meals, which are small replicas of actual dishes.​

Mini food chef Burcu Celenoglu Aydin prepares a meal in his mini kitchen in Istanbul, Turkey, April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Mini food chef Burcu Celenoglu Aydin prepares a meal in his mini kitchen in Istanbul, Turkey, April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

“Some great mini food craftsmen can make several replicas of food that are exactly the same as real food. If you don’t put your hand next to the food replica, you don’t know it’s fake. We may think that the food replica is the real food of the same size. ,” he said.

Pan decided to quit his job and started a photography studio with his friends, which allowed him to have a steady income and free time to make mini meals. After a year of continuous practice, his skills had grown tremendously.

From fluffy cakes and donuts, to plump Chinese dumplings, Pan can imitate all kinds of food with the same shape and appearance, only much smaller in size. When he uploads some of his best works to his social media pages, he immediately receives many likes, and gets orders from his fans and subscribers.

“The income from this job is less stable. Sometimes it’s just a few orders, but sometimes I can also earn more than my salary at my previous company. Revenue depends on the number of fans,” said Pan.

Apart from earning, Pan has also received a lot of support and advice from fans and customers who have helped him in honing his artistic skills.

Dining table with meat dishes prepared by mini food cook Burcu Celenoglu Aydin in his mini kitchen in Istanbul, Turkey, April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Dining table with meat dishes prepared by mini food cook Burcu Celenoglu Aydin in his mini kitchen in Istanbul, Turkey, April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

“Take an example, donuts, because I want to make a replica of a mini donut, the model must be made to look really good. So I had to fine-tune the details of the layers on top, like the jam and cream,” said Pan.

According to data from China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, more than 200 million people are engaged in flexible work in the country, with food delivery, logistics, housekeeping, digital marketing and live streaming services among the most in demand.

More than 50 percent of those in “flexible” or freelance work in China are young adults born in the 1990s to 2000s, according to a report published by the Chinese consulting firm iResearch. [ps/jm]

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