October 19 2011
British ceramic artist Jonathan Waights has been painting tiles to order since 1988. Were he a one-style-only man, he would no doubt be growing a little tired by now, but Waights had a varied training (he was apprenticed to a leading tile-maker in Portugal before finding work as a cartoonist) and is master of so many techniques that he is able to do something completely different every day.
“I don’t have a favourite style,” says Waights, who works at a studio in West Sussex. “What I enjoy is variety and I get great satisfaction from the fact that I can do a cockerel for somebody’s Aga one day then a Japanese cartoon or a racy mural for a bathroom the next.”
Of course, there is some repetition – he has a gallery of past commissions on his website and many clients simply ask for one of these designs (the Delft tiles, first picture, are perennially popular, for example, as are Bryn Parry’s comedy pheasants, second picture). However, there is very little that can’t be done so long as the client has the budget and the patience, and Waights relishes challenging commissions such as the arched panel he produced in the Queen’s apartment at Windsor Castle.
“Clients come to me with their ideas; then, if necessary, I sketch or paint or Photoshop my designs and send them back for approval,” he explains. Once the artwork has been agreed, Waights scans it, projects it onto the tiles and begins to paint.
Installation is, in most cases, the client’s responsibility (Waights will do very complex designs where a breakage would mean having to re-do the entire project) and given how beautiful the finished tiles are, a professional is strongly recommended.