For most start-up founders, late nights spent trekking through airports are little more than the cost of doing business. But for Ted Acworth, one particular layover at Philadelphia International Airport produced one of the more gratifying experiences in his time at the helm of Artaic.
“I happened to look up, and right in front of me was one of our works. Of course I recognized it, but I’d never seen the finished product installed as public art in a public space – it was gorgeous,” Acworth says of his chance encounter with one of the digitally designed and robotically assembled mosaics that his Boston-based company manufactures. “That’s why I do what I do: to make the world a more beautiful place, and to bring more mosaic artwork to the world.”
For the past eleven years, Artaic has been breathing new life into the age-old medium. To do that, they use sophisticated software controlled by a team of mosaic experts to create bespoke designs that sometimes involve upwards of a million tiles, which are then methodically and precisely arranged by robots. Whereas traditional mosaic production is a (literally) hands-on and time-consuming process, Artaic can create same-day digital renderings that then ship in a matter of weeks or even days.
Much as a mosaic fits seemingly disparate pieces into a larger, cohesive picture, Artaic marries Acworth’s longstanding interest in the art form with his highly sophisticated engineering background. Exposed to the arts through his mother’s work as a mural painter from a young age, Acworth fell in love with ancient mosaics during summers spent hitchhiking through southern Europe, finding parallels between their methodical construction and the mechanical engineering principles he was studying back at Columbia University.
A robot laying Artaic tile.