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An Interview with Candice Aquino, Founder of Some Ceramics

Candice Aquino is the founder of Some Ceramics, a ceramic studio handcrafting familiar forms with subtle refinement, with an attraction to forms and textures that bare vulnerabilities with crude restraint. 

Candice was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and has been living in the US since 2004. After years being part of Choplet’s ceramic community in Brooklyn, she took the opportunity to start her own studio in Jersey City.

In Spring we had the opportunity to collaborate with Candice on a one of a kind collection of vessels, vases and catch-all dishes for Phosphene. Read on for our conversation with Candice to learn more about how she began her work in ceramics, her design process and the all the details of her favorite eateries and galleries in the Jersey  / New York City area.

 

Candice Aquino in her studiopictured above: Candice in her ceramic studio.

 

Tell us about yourself and your creative background.

I didn't grow up in an artistic environment as a child, so I had a weird longing to do something that I didn't know much about. When I moved to the US for college, I initially took up Nursing but after much debate transferred to an art school. My major was Interactive Media, but towards the end of my college years I got into sculpture.

Eventually, I became a Motion Graphic Designer but doing something tactile was still on my mind. And one day, I stumbled into ceramics and became obsessed with it.

At first, I took a ceramics class in a community center on a whim. After 12 sessions, I didn’t accomplish anything but I felt like there was traction. Then I took another class in a different ceramic studio, and was drawn in by the challenge of working on a wheel. It also helped that I loved the community I was with. We all commiserated on how difficult it was and [how creating ceramics was] a torture that we’d accepted for ourselves. It took me (on and off) a year to make anything decent. Even now, I still think it’s very challenging in a lot of ways but its still just as satisfying when I get a simple mug right.

Being a ceramicist lets me make work that satisfies that artistic urge, versus being a designer, which is in my day job. [What I enjoy most about creating ceramics is] being able to shape what you want with your hands. It's not always an easy process but when I get it right, I can practically hear the choir of angels behind me.
 

What is the most difficult thing about being a creator? the most beautiful?
and what are your sources of inspiration? 

Dealing with insecurities. It's hard not to compare yourself to other people and their successes. I need to constantly remind myself that I'm on my own journey and what looks great on others might not exactly be something I want for myself. The most beautiful is when the afternoon light hits my pieces, it's kind of a magical moment. Especially in pieces where that silhouette, or that edge, or that texture is where its supposed to be *chef's kiss*.

[Regarding sources of inspiration,] I have friends in different disciplines and its always so amazing to see them grow in their own ways. Like I mentioned in what I find difficult in being a creator, it's inspirational to me how we're all seeking our own self-defined paths. 

 

base of Some Ceramics vase


How would you describe your creative process and design aesthetic? 

Impulsive. I have this self-delusion that I'm organized and practical, but in reality I often act on a whim more than I would like to admit. For instance, I'll sketch some shapes out, but once on the wheel it turns into something else. It's a constant battle between planning and impulse. I [also] love executing the idea of reserved extremes. It's an aesthetic that I'm deeply attracted to and always in pursuit of. I believe that chaos and control can exist at the same time and it's not one over the other.


Catch All Ceramic Dishes by Candice Aquino
pictured above: marbled catch all dishes made by candice for phosphene. each is one of a kind.

 
Where are you based? What do you love about your community?
And if we were to visit - what are your top recommendations for food, coffee, things to do, etc?

We only moved to Jersey City from Brooklyn a year before the pandemic hit, so I feel like there's still places to explore! We love how dog friendly Jersey City is and there's so many parks we can go to.

You can start your day at Sam AM for brunch - Sam AM has a different special every other day and I normally get those. The last one I remember was a Cajun shrimp and grits that was great. Walk down the water to look at the Manhattan Skyline. Window shopping at Kanibal & Co, Hound About Town, and Cool Vines. Then end your day with drinks at Junto Attic Bar. I’ll always ask the bartender to riff me something based on a drink I like or based on a bottle of liquor I’m curious about. I like bars that give me that flexibility and the people there are really talented.


How do you enjoy a day off?

I will swing between doing absolutely nothing all day or having a packed schedule checking out galleries-- there's no in between. I mostly go to Chelsea and my go-tos are Gagosian, David Zwinner, Pace, Tanya Bonakdar and Paula Cooper. Then just pop in anything I see interesting in between those, zigzagging my way from 19th st to 26th st. As for doing nothing all day, it’s definitely indulging in trashy comic books/novels and laughing myself silly from it. 


How do you ‘slow down’ and bring presence and mindfulness into your life?

Nothing brings me more presence than the moment when my dog and I have eye contact. I think she's so cute and adorable. It's a constant invitation to take a break, chill with her and just bask in that moment. Our good girl Toma (short for Tomatillo) is a rescue that we got two years ago. She’s a shy little low-rider often mistaken as a Corgi-Lab mix but really, she’s a rat terrier/dachshund/german shepherd/beagle/chow-chow/pit combo.


What is your hope for the present? What is your dream for the future?

Through the pandemic I realized that working from home enables a lot of people to strike a better work life balance. It certainly has for me so I hope that can continue. In these times, my dream is for everyone to be more honest with each other and realize that we're all more similar than we are different. Though on a more realistic note, I pray for my dog's separation anxiety to be more manageable



Shop the Some Ceramics collection made exclusively for Phosphene Studio here.

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