Saim (Usta*) Kolhan was born in Kütahya in 1962. He has graduated from a private vocational school as an electrician. He first worked as an electrician master in different factories. However he realized that it was not the profession he wanted to be in while he was in Cyprus for his military service.
Later Saim Usta decided to work as an apprentice in Atilla Kipergil’s tile workshop in 1984. That was when he realized that tile making, which is called "çinicilik" could turn out to his life's passion enabling him to express himself. Meanwhile he opened a retail shop named "Elif Çini" in 1984. At Elif Çini, unique tiles have been displayed with different techniques that already had existed in Kutahya, the center of Turkish tiles for five hundred years. The aim of protecting the perfection of the tradition and enforcing the standards of the town pushed him to be in co-operation with other artists such as Atilla Kipergil, Mehmet Gürsoy, Abdülkadir Uçaroğlu and Habib Balalan. Saim Usta’s objective from the very beginning was not to increase the number of the already existent objects by imitating them, but rather to use them as elements and enablers of progression.
Together with his colleagues, Saim Usta established his own workshop trying to create new objects, which were better than the old masters'. From then on, pieces made in his workshop have been exceptional in terms of clay and glazing, creative forms and even functions together with hand decoration. This attempt also signifies a new école in the İznik and Kütahya ceramics tradition. The world of Turkish ceramics also is nourished by masters that he had trained as apprentices. Saim Usta’s and hic colleagues’ artistic works were exhibited by different organizations including the Museum of International Folk Art in the United States.
*Usta is master in Turkish.