Mason Tsai likes to let the collectors appreciate his unique style which distinguishes his brooches, and he likes to write his own story through their eyes. Mason Tsai is a low-key designer and acts according to the dictates of his own conscience. Here he shares with Camille Chang his current situation and his creative process.
Creators often like to tell stories through their own works, maybe to convey a particular idea, or to express a certain emotion, but this is not the usual logic of Mason Tsai. “I like to create thinking about a clear, specific theme; I do not like to do objects that are too abstract. Because then other people will not understand, they will need me to explain, or elucidate a story. Therefore, my works are very realistic, very concrete. You do not need to spend too much time and energy to interpret their meaning. You can have a more direct and straightforward reaction when you see my works.”
Mason Tsai comes from a house of jadeite artists, ever since he was a kid he was shaped in the environment. When he was 11 he went to Singapore to study, and then he moved to London where he studied interior design at the university. Eventually, he decided to come back to Taiwan to launch his career in jewelry design. “After my degree, I worked in a company as an interior designer, but I did not feel motivated, it was not creative enough. It was not what I wanted.” He told us that after resigning from his job, he started from zero and he learned how to carve and polish a stone from his family. When he finished his apprenticeship, he came back to Taiwan where he founded Mason Tsai Timeless Jewel.
“Jadeites are very beautiful, but more often than not they are used in a limited array of possibilities. Also, generally speaking people who appreciate jadeites tend to be slightly older, and that’s a pity.” Mason Tsai then decided to use his own way of interpretation, so that more people might appreciate its beauty. At the beginning of the creative because his designs were so innovative, that the goldsmith thought the designer was not a professional. Also, his works were often questioned and challenged by his colleagues because he was the first one to detach from the traditional frameworks. Fortunately, after eight years people started to understand the quality of his works, especially the well-renowned brooches. Animal, human, or spirit-shaped, his creations are always very lifelike and seem to have a life of their own. Once people fall in love with his creations it becomes a true obsession. He has sold very well also at auctions.
Do you have a favorite work or one that you think represents you the most?
Before, it would be the butterflies, but now it’s the snail. I feel it’s closer to me. It’s a small animal that nobody pays attention to, bringing its home on its back. It gives a sense of stability, while trying to move on, it is not affected by the surrounding factors; snails innocently do their own thing, and they move forward toward their goal.
Which piece usually receives most attention at an auction?
A monkey brooch that was sent to the Sotheby’s auction. People really liked it and it was even imitated in China, where experts really like it, and like the panda, they have classified my monkey brooch as a national treasure.
How do you find inspiration when you think about new works?
The materials I use are always my primary source of reflection; I think how to maximize their value and how to increase their beauty. There are some beautiful jadeites whose full potential is not always deployed by designers. I always try to emphasize the beauty of the jadeite I am working with by giving it different shapes, so that’s how my creations tend to be more special.
Have you ever encountered ups and downs or difficulties since you founded your brand?
We have not seen huge successes or huge failures in the last eight years. What has been changing is the expression of the work. We have accumulated experience, and this is manifest in the quality of our works and in the dynamicity of our creations. Also, when I began I was more unconventional than I am now, later I tried to focus more on the main theme and on the modeling lines, which have become more meticulous and precise. From another point of view, these changes are also linked to my inner transformation: for example at the beginning, I liked to design spirits and fairies, whereas recently I have been focusing more on themes such a bumper harvest, the dancing girl, maybe because I finally settled down both in my personal life and in my work and because everything is going more smoothly.
Any new plan for the future?
I would like to open a solo exhibition. Although this is only a small dream, however it is not so easy to achieve, because all my works sell out as soon as I create them. So, not so long ago, I started to keep an object for myself every time I launch a new series.