Shaper of brushes
I was born in Zhaji village, in southern Anhui province. I represent the 13th generation of Airitang. After the end of high school, I entered as trainee in manufacturing Xuan brushes.
I am often reminded of my teacher; he was an old man from Yangzhou. He was very attentive with me and taught me not only the skills of this profession, but also how to manage my life. He was like a father to me.
The production of brushes is very complicated; it requires a large number of different operations. Each is important. Bai Juyi, the great Tang Dynasty poet, described the complexity of this work in a poem:”To make a brush we had to make a selection from tens of millions hairs”. He also highlights the hard work:”The lightness of hair does not hide the weight of work”.
With the help of my teacher, after several years of learning, I was able to assimilate all the operations to produce a brush. The year when China celebrated the 20th anniversary of reforms of its openness to the world, I returned to my native Zhaji to start up my own workshop. I named my shop “Airitang” in honor of my ancestors and Zhaji, the land that fed me and made me grew.
With the development of the region, more and more students and painters from all corners of China are coming to draw its beautiful nature.
My customers have reacted in a really positive way to my work. I then realized there was a big mess on this market: most of workshops only focus their attention to economic performance and so there was a decline in quality.
An old painter from Changzhou, Mr. Yu Desheng, once came to Zhaji and told me he had looked for more than 10 years for Changfeng’s brushes as I do. I understood the production of Chinese brushes beyond simple considerations of economic management.
It is an art, the attention of a lifetime. If I have to make brushes to live, I have to do that first for the world of art. To achieve this goal I asked Liu Xinsheng to advise me in how to conduct my work.
After years of research, my technical skills have greatly improved. The Arhat’s brush (Luchan Bi) is famous today. I receive orders from all over the country. The famous painters CHEN Ping, TANG Guo, HE Jialin and young painters as KE Yutian, SONG Changqing, XIA Ye, LI Tianhai are loyal customers.
It is thanks to the support of those exceptional customers, that I can persevere in my career choice. I am grateful and I will never forget what my old teacher told me:
“Do what others fail to do so, make your products are the best. With quality materials, with your heart, make brushes of the highest quality possible.”