Artist Series: Zhitaofang's/製陶方式
Based in Changhua, Taiwan, Fang/方煜程 is a potter who is known for his beautiful, simple, and matte ceramic tableware. He hopes that his tableware can bring comfort to people, as good company does in people’s homes.
After graduating with an industrial design degree from Tunghai University, Fang took an apprenticeship to learn pottery from masters Xinglong Hsu(徐興隆) and Yingchi Hong(洪瑩琪), and eventually made a name for himself. He prioritizes the concentration that is required to create, and believes that his emotions naturally melt into the clay, through every moment of his hands. Because of this, we consider every single piece to be special and cannot wait to share his story and brand, Zhitaofang's/製陶方式 with you.
Zhitao製陶 means “making pottery”, and fang方 means “method”. Because Fang is also the potter’s surname, the brand was born as Zhitaofang's/製陶方式, which means, “Fang’s way of making pottery”. We sat down with the Taiwanese maker to talk about the brand, his story, and his process.
How did you get started with ceramics?
I was first introduced to ceramics through the parents of a college friend. They were potters, and I was given an opportunity to intern at their studio and became their apprentice.
Can you share some of your experience of learning pottery?
I was an apprentice to my instructors for about three years and learned everything from scratch — not just the technique of making pottery, but I was also being trained to think more creatively and to operate a studio. I was also an assistant and a teaching assistant to the studio. Because I had to learn to do everything, these three years formed some very important foundations for my career as a potter and to eventually open my own studio.
Can you describe your brand Zhitaofang's製陶方式 and work in a few words?
Simple, clean and elegant. Classic and modern at the same time. I'm trying my best to move in this direction, but somehow it seems to be getting more and more ornate.
What does your typical day look like?
It’s nothing really special. In the morning, I clean the cat litter and water my plants after getting up, and work for one to two hours. If I still have time, I will exercise. I then take a lunch break, and continue the work in the afternoon. I try not to work after dinner if I don’t have to (but I find myself back in the studio often anyway). To end the night, I watch some shows, movies or play video games, and then go to sleep. I like a regular daily routine, and I like to stay at home. Because of my work, I go out quite a lot. When I’m busy or there are exhibitions, my usual routine will be disrupted, and I have to find my pace again.
Where do you get inspiration for your artwork? How do you design your pieces? How do you come up with different ideas for different shows and clients?
Most of the inspiration comes from the fact that there were shapes or forms I wanted but couldn’t find anywhere, so I decided to make it myself. I also like to read. I am interested in all sorts of things related to everyday life. Not just pottery related, I also like to read about cooking, gardening, tea, coffee, flower arrangement… After I start paying attention to a topic, my thoughts would naturally appear. Then I would think about the relationship between the topic and the object I want to make, and with a little bit of my own point of view, usually some ideas will come to mind.
The idea usually starts with something small, sometimes not even directly related to later works, but I think creating is a way I use to respond to the world, and I just use my pottery to express my thoughts.
What was your favorite and most difficult part in the process as a potter?
My favorite part is going from an idea to actually making things happen. I was fascinated by the process of making from the beginning. After I start to do it, a lot of times I find things are not going the way it’s originally planned like the shapes and lines are not going where I want them to go, the proportions are crooked, or the pieces are not what you imagine after the firing process… I have to go through constant tweaking to get the pieces to a place I am satisfied with.
The most difficult thing is firing in the kiln. You never know what to expect. Sometimes I feel I’ve done all the right steps, but things still do not turn out as expected. "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." What a wise saying (Fang laughs).
Which one is your favorite piece among the items you made for us this time?
The pleated Teapots. Definitely the teapots. I’ve used all the skills I know in that piece.
Do you have a potter that you admire and why?
Teppei Ono. Ono once said something like “The world needs more beauty/art to remove violence from people's hearts”, I don’t remember the exact words, but I never thought that pottery could be interpreted like this. Hopefully one day I too will find out what my work means to the world.
Could you tell us a little bit about your plan next year?
After the pandemic, I feel that it is more important to be able to live in the present. The plan is not to keep up with the changes, so I will just go with the flow. I would love to visit Brooklyn if I can though.
Shop the Zhitaofang’s/製陶方式 collection here.