Last month artist and designer Phuc Van Dang sent me a note about our mutual love of color. That email exchange led to more, and allowed me to discover more about his varied works. I asked him a few questions about his love of color, his work with porcelain, and how Denmark, and other places, influence his work.
You wrote to me because I, like you, have a love of color. And I never tire of asking this one question. What is your favorite color?
Yes, it is very true that I have a love for colors. For me it is important to use colors in a good way, and that the colors become a part of the story. I do not know if I have an all-time favorite color. It shifts from project to project depending on inspiration. Right now I adore the color yellow (more specifically Pantone 102 C). It gives me joy and energy to look at it. But actually I love black when I draw—it's a strong indicator and black lines tend to provide contrasting expressions and a graphic edge.
You work in various design disciplines (porcelain, drawing, graphic arts). Which do you prefer?
Lately I've worked with ceramics, black buffalo horn and black ebony wood. I believe that each discipline has its own way of communicating to people. It is always an experience, when one proves or creates something new in materials. There is a new universe and new possibilities in every single kind of material, and this creates a story.
Your art and designs have childlike elements. Did you create art as a child?
I like naiveté, which tends to have a strong expression. When I was little, I was very shy and quiet and I loved to draw. I saw the world as an adventure, but still I was afraid to enter the lawn, simply because I saw the plants as small living creatures, and I did not want to kill them. Perhaps such a story from my childhood has accompanied me ever since and gives my work this adventurously naive expression. My most recognized work are my naïve human-like shapes. They are in different places, and they are small portraits of people, feelings, and experiences. The human-like characters are individuals who may bear a primitive mask that one may never know what is behind it.
You live in Denmark. How does that country shape your creations?
I live in a small town in Denmark called Horsens. The art scene is not very big here, so I often go elsewhere to make exhibitions. But I do love the calmness and air. Here I can focus on my projects without being distracted by the noise and busy lifestyle of the bigger cities. Most of my exhibitions are in Copenhagen and Barcelona. Copenhagen is a beautiful city, with a lot of development in architecture, art and design. You can feel and choose where you can get inspiration. In Copenhagen there are some small underground galleries that I like to visit and just hang out with friends. Barcelona is a city which has so many sources of inspiration for me—from the street art in both the galleries and the small corners of the city, to the warmth, beaches, electronic music scene, and the relaxed atmosphere. I always get so much energy from a trip to Barcelona. Everything around me gives me inspiration, but to be a bit more specific I mainly get my inspiration from music, architecture, nature and fashion. Dialog and experiences with my friends and people gives me a poetic picture often that I later use as the inspiration in my drawings and graphic art.
Can you explain the process of creating the porcelain pieces in your collection?
I feel that porcelain is as pure as a fresh piece of paper or a new canvas. All my porcelain products with graphics are hand painted. I use traditional methods of painting and combine it with decal, which is a very modern technique. The process is not easy, because you must have control over your drawing with a really steady hand. But I enjoy it, because I can paint or draw directly on a functional thing, that people will use in their every day life. It becomes a piece of art you can actually use.
What are you currently working on?
Well, I just took the big leap, and started my own brand PHUCISME, so currently I am working hard to finish my first collection, which will be launched at the Formland fair in the middle of August. Formland is Scandinavia’s leading, and most international, trade fair for design and interiors. My first collection is made in ceramics, black wood, black buffalo horn and fine bone china. I have tried to create simplicity in order to celebrate the materials. My collection is all handmade, so I hope that it will reach out to people, who value and respect great quality materials and design with a story.