Metro Artist Profiles: Joey de Castro
The master potter muses on his artistic journey, creative inspirations, and the eternal search for that “perfect bowl”
Ever since he made his first pottery pieces in 2003, Joey de Castro has made innumerable fine art and masterpieces from the artform’s long drawn out process. In all this time, the pioneer potter has only excelled and proven himself to be a master, even teaching the subject and craft to hungry students at the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
“I have been teaching pottery for around 15 years, and the only part that students get to experience is the forming part of pottery—which is just a small part of a long process. What they don’t see behind the scenes is a more complex operation—from sourcing and formulating the clay and glaze recipes, to the kiln loading and firing, those aspects require technical knowledge. But, at the same, [it] also allows artistic control over the medium for self-expression, which I enjoy immensely. That’s what I enjoy the most, the long drawn out process, the long and winding road,” de Castro grins.
As one of the featured artists at the first edition of Art in the Park this year, we had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with the pottery master to talk about his artistic journey, creative inspirations, and his eternal search of the “perfect bowl.”
1. Always growing as an artist and in your craft, who and/or what are your artistic inspirations? Why them? Or—if there’s not a particular person—what inspires you?
From the start my inspirations were my teachers like the Pettyjohn's and other senior potters like Ugu Bigyan and Jaime de Guzman, which is what made me decide to get my own kiln. That is what allowed me to have full control of the outcome every step of the way. In 2009, I was fortunate enough to attend an international pottery workshop in Australia with the help of Putik potters association. Regular trips abroad thereafter broadened my appreciation for high quality pottery standards. Since the pandemic, I get inspiration from the internet like YouTube and Instagram. Those sites get my blood boiling and makes me so inspired to get up early in the morning to hit the wheel.
2. Plates, jars, bowls, cups… what is the creative process behind each piece? Paint a picture of your day working in your studio. How do you begin, and how do you know when to end?
I usually get to work on a project by the kiln load which usually takes a little over a week to fill and another week to dry, glaze and fire. Every kiln load tends to be of different forms/concepts/ideas.
I get a lot of commissions and requests to make stuff which I usually tend to sidetrack because it already becomes "work" and stifles my creative juices and the urge to push my limits.
With so many ideas swirling in my head for new works I seem to always go back to basics which is making bowls, always on the eternal search for that "perfect" bowl.
3. Would you have a favorite piece or series that you worked on in your career?
No particular favorite work, every new project will [and] should always be better than the last, that's what keeps me chuggin' along on a daily grind.
4. Talk about your BPI Art Clips mini documentary for this year’s first edition of Art in the Park—how does it show a side of you that you normally don’t reveal, what about it did you love to work on, etc.
I am not really comfortable in front of the camera but through the short clip I hope to show/explain the entire process, behind the scenes.
5. Where do you see yourself as an artist in the coming years and how do you hope to evolve as an artist?
I am currently setting up a pottery studio in the province where I intend to retire in the future. There is already a greenhouse where my succulent collection is currently housed. I see myself growing old doing pottery still, and tending to my plants.
Art in the Park is organized by Philippine Art Events, Inc., for the benefit of the Museum Foundation of The Philippines and with support from Globe Platinum and Bank of The Philippine Islands.