Similar to the concept of impressionism and pointillism, mosaics let you dive into a world full of colors. Viewed from close, you can get lost in the details of every little piece, viewed from far, you start seeing the bigger picture. In this article we'll walk through the history and techniques and afterwards show you how contemporary artists have given mosaics a fresh new touch!
SMALL PIECES TURNING INTO SOMETHING BIG
As humans we are drawn to beauty. We like to create beautiful things and tell our stories with them, marking our existence. About 4.000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia people used mosaics not only as decorative elements but to demonstrate their culture, rituals and ways of living.
From that point on the craftsmanship of mosaic has come a long way, to ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire and by now it can be found all over the world in all different shapes and forms. Each culture perfected their own techniques and therefore images, motives etc. differed from country to country. However similarities can be found all over the world and these are some of the main characteristics:
Mosaics are made of small, roughly square pieces, also called tesserae, that can be of stone or glass and come in various colors. Floor mosaics typically consist of rounded pieces, called pebble mosaics. Most famous for the broken tile mosaics, also known as trencadis or pique assiette, is probably architect Antoni Gaudi, covering the city of Barcelona in his dreamlike mosaic-creations.
Today we can find mosaics everywhere and to our shame we tend to overlook them. Fortunately over the last years several artists have picked up the fascination for mosaics and brought them back into our sight. Below you'll find a selection of artists celebrating their beauty and craftsmanship.
After photographer Sebastian Erras came back from a trip to colorful Marrakesh, where he was exposed to many beautiful and complex mosaic floors, he started paying more attention what he was walking over in other cities, mainly Paris. Back in Marrakesh he would take pictures of the brilliant mosaics with his feet in the picture, to proof that they are actually real. He started doing the same in Paris and soon launched his now quite famous Instagram account parisianfloors. Sebastian Erras clearly inspires us to pay more attention to all the beauty and art surrounding us in the most common places.
Nick Misani took things to the next level when he started his "fauxsaics"-series. Inspired by the classic tile mosaics, he combines lettering with mosaic illustrations, making it look super realistic by sticking to the "limitations and conventions of traditional mosaic technique". So yes, these beautiful works can only be found online, which does not make them any less significant. Also, "each fauxsaic is composed of 6,000 to 10,000 hand-drawn and individually-colored tiles and takes between 12 and 24 hours to create". Nick Misani paved the way for a modern revolution of the craftsmanship of mosaics, inspiring many other artists to create their own "fauxsaic".
"Don’t be afraid of time-intensive, inefficient processes. We live in a world that doesn’t really reward taking it slow. We’re encouraged, if not expected, to constantly produce and publish, but I believe you can tell when someone spent a lot of time working on something. Design doesn’t have to look effortless." - Nick Misani
Inspired by the original series by Nick Misani, we want to share the work of other talented artists, taking on the challenge of making a realistic "fauxsaic".
THE ARTIFEX FORGE
We simply cannot talk about fauxsaics without mentioning Jeremy Child of The Artifex Forge.
His Mosaic Maker Tool Kit allows virtually anybody to create their own mosaic designs within just minutes. For this unique pattern and brush set, Jeremy took inspiration from original Roman source material (c. 4th century AD) from Sicily. Perfectly capturing the irregular, chipped edges of the ancient mosaic artworks, it is hard to tell real from faux apart.
The Mosaic Maker Tool Kit is now available in our shop as part of The Grand Maker’s Toolkit.