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  • Photo of three Charleston mugs. Two are stacked and one is laying on its side.


A Q&A with Sonny Sisan

Meet Sonny Sisan!

Meet Sonny Sisan!

Q: Tell us the story behind your business.

A: I've been an admirer of ceramics for a very long time. After my first time purchasing a handmade mug, I was hooked! I spent a lot of time studying different forms and styles that I loved from ceramicists all over. Anytime I traveled, I tried to find local shops that I thought would carry ceramics, or stopped by artists markets to find all the cool pottery. When I started ceramics, because of all that time spent studying the work of others, I was able to form my own work through all of that inspiration.

I remember the first time I took a wheel throwing class. It was with Susan Gregory who is one of my favorite ceramicists in Charleston. This class was something I was looking forward to for a very long time, as pottery classes are expensive and always hard to come by. The second I sat at the wheel with my hands on a ball of clay, I knew this was a medium that I had to keep on learning.

It is definitely a very beautiful craft, the clay is so delicate yet strong and bold. Learning how to work with it takes a lot of time and patience, but in the end is extremely rewarding. To see the material transform from one state to a final product through the movements of your hands is amazing to see, and it is what inspires me every day to keep making.

Sontosis has been my personal Instagram name for basically my whole Instagram life. It’s essentially my full name randomly put together: SONny TOm SISan. When I decided to start my own business, I decided to keep it and Studio Sontosis was born! 

Photo of Sonny smiling at the camera and holding a mug in each hand. Q: How did you start working with Counter Culture Coffee?

A: I have friends that work at the Training Center here in Charleston! The Charleston Training Center is in a very cool space that creates a sense of community and collaboration. Being in it so many times inspired me to start a quarterly artists and makers market held at the TC called The Hangover Market. Photo of the exterior of the Charleston Training Center.

Q: Tell us about The Charleston Mug.

A: The Charleston Mug is a collaborative design that represents my main body of work. I focus mostly on minimal forms, playful surface decoration, and I emphasize a lot on color and pattern. Small, artfully crafted, functional pieces for the home should be fun!

This cup specifically is a limited-edition color release of the squiggle tumbler in my main collection. I chose these colors just for Counter Culture Coffee because they best represent my favorite colors, are inspired by our coast and the bright colors of our city, and perfectly blend with Counter Culture Coffee’s fun branding!

When I first started developing the early stages of how I wanted to finish the cup, I knew I wanted it to be bright and bold. Typically on in my main collection this cup just has the colored squiggles on the outside, but with this collab I thought it’d be fun to bring some joy to the inside of the cup too! I chose my favorite pink glaze for the inside because I think it compliments the blue quite nicely while adding a solid pop to the playful patterned exterior.  Photo of a hand grabbing a Charleston mug.

Q: What is a project are you most proud of and why?

A: I would definitely say starting my business in ceramics, and while growing that, starting the Hangover Market. The market provided a space for me to showcase and sell my work alongside other artists and makers that I love in Charleston, and was definitely a fun project to do while being a contributing maker myself.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Colors and nature inspire me! I am always drawn to really cool patterns, and bold colors. Which is funny because in my personal life and style I am such a monochrome/neutral person, but in my work I love bright pops of color everywhere! I also spend a lot of time outdoors, riding my bike through the city and taking in the colors of our buildings and our native foliage everywhere. Being outside and seeing design and nature everywhere is really my biggest inspiration.

Q: Are you a morning person or night owl?

A: I really hate getting up early, mostly because I really hate getting out of bed. Don’t ever buy linen sheets, your bed gets too comfy, and then you’re always late in the morning cause you have a hard time getting out of bed. Trust me I know through experience. No I’m kidding, do buy linen sheets cause they’re great, just be better at getting up on time than me. I will say I am most productive in the mornings, once I am up everything is great!

Photo of a collection of vessels from Sonny in a neutral palate. Q: What’s your go-to road trip snack?

A: Road trip snacks are way different than snacking at home. I snack at home all the time, and it’s usually fruit or pistachios. However, when it comes to road trip snacks, I just somehow really get a craving for bad gas station snacks!

Q: What is your favorite coffee drink?

A: I start every day off with a pour over! I love the process of making a pour over, and drinking the coffee in the end is so rewarding knowing how the brewing process was so mechanically done through your hands. After that I always have an espresso drink of some kind like a cappuccino or an iced latte.

Q: What do you do to recharge?

A: Charleston plays a big role in how I recharge. I spend a lot of my free time biking through our city streets, sitting in our parks, or going to the beach to listen to the waves. I also love to work on another medium of art that is not ceramics in my free time. I love to draw, and freely drawing without any thought is so invigorating to me, especially after a long day of meticulous ceramics making.

Q: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

A: I am looking forward to growing my work in ceramics even more! I have so many cool ideas in my head, and I can’t wait to just get all of it out and into the world!

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