An interview with Bonsai Artist, Sergio Cuan

Sergio Cuan is a talented bonsai artist, who I got to know through BonsaiNut, where he is known as “Mach5”. I met Sergio at the 4th U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition, where he exhibited an impeccable Sharp’s Pygmy Japanese Maple that won Finest Deciduous Bonsai.

Sharps pygmy Japanese maple
(Photo credit: Jonas Dupich)

It’s really a great bonsai, and just one among many great bonsai that reside in Sergio’s New Jersey garden.

Sergio is launching a new bonsai website, and I had an opportunity to do an online interview with him to discuss bonsai and the new site.

Nebari Bonsai Blog: How did you get started in Bonsai?

Sergio Cuan: When I was a teenager, I received a juniper bonsai from my parents as a Birthday gift. I kept well watered, misted a few times a day and placed it by a bright window in my bedroom. It was dead within two weeks. Although this was a frustrating first experience into the world of bonsai, I had become fascinated with it. Many years later, I returned to bonsai armed with knowledge and an even greater affinity for these tiny trees. I am an artist by trade and I love horticulture. Combining these two passions, bonsai, I thought, was a match made in heaven!


NBB: We know your affinity for and talent with Japanese Maples. What do you enjoy most about working with them?

SC: Japanese maples bring something interesting with every season. Perhaps no other deciduous species can match the delicate nature of its leaves, the beautiful smooth grey bark, the brilliant spring and autumn colors and their striking winter silhouettes. It is no coincidence that these maples are a favorite subject among bonsai practitioners worldwide.

NBB: What would you recommend to someone just getting started with Japanese Maples?

SC: Do your research and learn first how to keep a maple, not only alive, but thriving! Later, I would also suggest to try and master a few horticultural techniques such as a grafting. This will later allow you to maximize your trees’ potential and allow you greater control in improving them.


NBB: What is your least favorite species to work with at the moment? Why?

SC: Anything that will not respond well to bonsai culture.

NBB: Who’s work inspires you? Any particular styles or trends you’re keen on?

SC: Many artists I admire and quite impossible to pick one. Kimura, Suzuki, Urushibata, Hagedorn, Valavanis, Bjorn, Takeyama, Brian Van Fleet, and the list goes on.

As far as trends, not sure that I follow many too closely. I usually allow myself to adapt to the tree rather than imposing myself onto it. With that said I am a sucker for multi-trunk and forest bonsai no matter the species.

NBB: Your Sharp’s Pygmy maple won Finest Deciduous at the 2014 US National Bonsai Exhibition. What’s next?

SC: Unsure as to what the future holds. At the moment getting ready for the 5th US National. Sure to be one heck of an exhibit and probably the best one yet! Beyond that, I will return to my garden and keep working to improve my game. Hopefully good things will follow.

NBB: In addition to tireless work on beautiful bonsai, Sergio has also been building a new website to showcase his works and techniques, through impressive and artfully-shot photography. When will the site go live?

SC: The new website is http://www.M5BONSAIWORKS.COM. The launch date is set for 9/5/16 @ 5:55 PM. LOL yes home of the fives!


NBB: Tell us what we can expect to see there!

SC: I am excited to finally have a “home” that I can call my own. A sort of virtual garden. I tried to design it in a way that is simple, clean and modern. A design that allows the work to be seen clearly and simply without much else around it. Many of my trees, but not all, will be featured in this new website along with information about them. I will have a whole section dedicated to my travels abroad visiting different bonsai gardens including those in Japan and more! I plan on updating it often with new photos as they become available.

I will also add that for best viewing, the website is designed to be seen on a home computer and not on a mobile device.

Congratulations Sergio! Looking forward to following along on your bonsai journey through this great new website!

2 thoughts on “An interview with Bonsai Artist, Sergio Cuan

  1. Thanks guys. Nice interview. Anticipating the launch of the new website. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it up to Rochester for the Nationals. Hope to see you both soon.


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