Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: Sporck Tile Art

The great thing about art is that it can come in so many forms.

It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, and it can take you back to a special place or time.

Michelle Dunaway and Corey Adkins introduce us to an artist whose works may be small but very special in today’s Sightseeing in Northern Michigan.

“I was seriously impressed by myself because I didn’t know I could carve these things, and now I have around 500 designs,” says Leif Sporck, Sporck Tile Art.

In a little garage north of Suttons Bay big things are happening. It all started when Leif came home from college and his dad, who’s a potter, brought him some clay.

“He brought some tiles over here, and I carved the tiles for fun. I made one, then two, and then three and I put all that motivation I had coming out of college into making tiles,” explains Leif. 

And it’s grown into Sporck Tile Art.

“The idea was to capture wildlife and this area around here, because, at the time, that’s what influenced me growing up here in Leelanau County, the beauty of the area,” says Leif.

Leif creates these tiles from scratch. Every cut and curve comes from his hands.

“The best thing is to be patient and understand to carve a tile, and to make a mold of it, and just to baby it to make sure it goes through the whole process without cracking, and that I have time to think about how I want to color it to make it really nice,” says Leif.

And to make it nice is another intricate detail. Each tile hand painted, one by one. Focus is the key.

“I started just glazing the tiles in just one color and a lot of the tile artist that’s all they’ll do,” explains Leif. “I decided about five years into it that I wanted to hand-paint mine, which really set mine a part.”

His focus has brought him worldwide attention. Selling his tiles at art fairs and galleries across Michigan. He sells them online, overseas and all over the United States. And you can find them in Northern Michigan in his gallery in Fishtown.

“It just happened slowly. It’s not like I knew I was going to have a big tile art business. I wanted that, but there was so much work that had to be done. You just start so slowly and you have so much to learn, you just have to focus on something,” says Leif. “When you look at my work and how much time I’m putting into it, I think my tiles are really going to be special someday and I think they’re going to be known throughout the state.”

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus