Artist on file: JONATHAN HIGGINS - sculptor and model maker
38 year old Jonathan Higgins’ work is as diverse as it is fascinating, encompassing elegant bronze sculptures to models of comic book heroes.
Hailing from Stalybridge near Manchester, he studied fine art at Tameside College, going on to the University of Sunderland to study Visual Information Design.
It was at Sunderland that Jon met Sean Robinson, a lecturer there, who previously had a successful career in model making for the advertising industry. This inspired Jon to specialise in sculpting and model making.
Jon moved south in 1994 to work for the internationally renowned model making company, Synapse. He became senior sculptor and travelled to the United States involved in projects creating models for Warner Bros (Sylvester the cat and Tweety Pie) and 20th Century Fox (The Simpsons).
When he attended the British launch of the Simpsons figures he met, amongst others, the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright, and he has a treasured signed copy of a Bart cartoon.
He also worked at Jim Henson’s house in New York and George Lucas’ ranch near San Francisco.
‘After 9 years with Synapse, I felt it was time to set up on my own studio. Which I did, Model Creation in 2003, sculpting collectable figures and toys for many famous names including, Disney, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Rocket Dog and Ricky Gervais’ Flanimals’. Jon collaborated with Ricky Gervais to produce 6 Flanimals figures. These were sold at the Forbidden Planet 2005 ‘Ricky was great to work with and very enthusiastic about my work.’
Jon has also had success with his beautiful bronze sculptures inspired by the 1920’s art deco movement. ‘I grew up on old films and was especially struck with Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box. I wanted to create a bronze of her, as I am inspired by the perfect form and details of sculpture in that decade of artists such as Ferdinand Priess.’ Jon adapted one of the bronzes, Eva, to an outdoor sculpture and the piece sold well at the Wisley Gardens exhibition last year.
Currently Jon is helping a company who design the seating for made-to-measure wheelchairs for MS patients and other disabled clients. Countour 886 sculpt and fit the chair seat to the person’s body shape. Clients are asked to sit on special bean bags. This leaves an impression which is then used as a template to create a personalised seat.
‘The artist who led to my great love of art was Georges Seurat. I saw his ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte’ at an exhibition when I was young and thought it wonderful. At the moment I love the work of the Australian hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck. I first came across his work in the 1986 film Labyrinth, which was a favourite of mine while growing up. I’ve watched it countless times!’
Muecks’ early work was as a model maker and puppeteer for children’s television and films including the Jim Henson series, The Storyteller.
Jon has recently been commissioned by Marvel to make a model of their superhero Quasar (above) This will be distributed along with a magazine this year.
Muecks’ work has inspired Jon to move into creating hyper-realistic sculpture and he is currently working on a figure based on a Russian model called Vlada. He is planning to exhibit his latest creation later this year so keep a look out on our events page for details. When the date’s announced make sure you mark it in your diaries as the work of this artist is not to be missed!
Follow Jon’s progress on his blog at jonathan-higgins.blogspot.com
Interview by CLARE KENDAL BATE