When you can’t afford art.

Mosaic of Aaron Swartz.

Artist’s always find themselves in the financial crunch in early stages. And when you are an Engineer faking himself/herself as an artist, the financial hollows are much deeper. But on brighter side engineers always find affordable solutions to make things work for them. I found myself in the same situation when I decided to create a mosaic using Rubik cubes. The only problem, I don’t have Rubik cubes in enough quantity. And worse, I am not financially well off to carry out crazy experiments I think of. A very simple mosaic art needs at least 100–150 Rubik cubes, and each cost 30–40 Indian rupees (~0.5 dollar). Cumulatively the price goes up as you try to scale up the art. In such conditions the Engineer in you get to work.

Rubik Cube Mosaic Art.

Rubik Cube itself is very artistic toy but at the same time an Engineering Marvel. No wonder artists use it in their experiments and Rubik Cube Mosaics are finding their ways in tech companies around the world.

Pete Fecteau Dream Big Rubik’s Cube Mosaic Art

I always wanted to create my own Rubik’s cube mosaic. So I searched for Rubik’s cubes in huge amount on the internet. I needed at least 500–600 cubes to create even simple portrait. The estimate was whooping 20k–24k. Though the end product would have been much satisfying and marvelous, I was unable to find a sponsor for it. The Idea stuck in mind for months.

The Solution

Finally I found the solution in the very basic commodity an Engineer and Artist can own in affordable way - Paper. Rubik’s cube consists of six colors, which in scrambled form act as pixels for the art. I bought color card papers with same six colors as in Rubik’s cube. The paper was cut into square pieces. These can act as pixels for art. For a canvas I bought Cardboard and drew square grid on it. The only thing remaining was to stick the papers on the canvas. The old fashioned fevi-stick came as a handy and again affordable option for the task.

The art.

Of course it’s not as simple as it sound, even to create a mosaic in digital form before art needs little bit of engineering and planning.

Rendering part of Mosaic on Laptop.

Once the digital image of the mosaic is ready, color paper pieces were stick to the canvas in the grid. For ease we wrote down the color in codes like R for RED, G for GREEN, etc.

Grid with color Codes. 2*2 cm gridblocks.

Once the grid and codes are in place, it’s a simple but tedious and time consuming process. Almost all of my Paper mosaics took more than 24 hours from planning, designing, and executing the whole thing. Even the smaller ones with less than foot of length and height. My first mosaic of Aaron Swartz took more than a month due to inexperience in the field. But as expected, the end result and appreciation received from tech world (Aaron being late programmer ,hacker and internet activist himself.) is very encouraging.

Mosaic of Aaron with 1*1 cm gridblocks.

More importantly the whole process is enjoyable (not every minute of it of course.) and both elders and kids enjoy doing it.

A kid working on a mosaic.

The whole process is simple and primitive and more importantly known to all. Yes, it takes much more time than it would have taken for an expert Rubik’s cube enthusiast, but complexities involved in Rubik’s cube are not suitable for all. And when it comes to a price. Even a much larger mosaics with size of 140cm*112cm cost me less than 500 bucks. that is 48% less than it would have been with Rubik’s cube.

I also created some small portraits which can be gifted to friends and families.

Small Mosaic with 40cm*72cm Grid.

Finally the whole process in one video. This one is a Tribute to an Indian King Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, done by 4 engineers with 3920 paper pieces.

If you want to learn about the how-to of paper pieces mosaic art, you can contact me on mail rosblog3@gmail.com.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.