Acrylic Robotics, a pioneering art-tech start-up based in Montreal, is revolutionizing the landscape of visual arts by facilitating painters to reproduce their masterpieces at scale. This breakthrough is made possible by combining the cutting-edge fields of robotics and artificial intelligence.
The brainchild behind this innovation is Chloe Ryan, an independent artist with a mechanical engineering degree from McGill University and the CEO of Acrylic Robotics. Driven by the keen observation that unlike other art forms, painters lack the means to readily reproduce their work, she started her venture with an aim to fill this gap.
Ryan underscored that while writers have moved beyond manually copying manuscripts, therefore amplifying their reader reach, artists are still bound by the quantity of their original paintings. Drawing from her own need, Ryan initially created a robot that aided her in painting more rapidly. However, the epiphany of making this technology available to the global artist community led her to conceptualize this into a full-fledged company.
Ryan’s innovative journey was guided by a clear question: “How do we enable independent artists to create painted art at scale, and make fine arts more accessible?” The solution came in the shape of a digital platform where artists can record every single brush stroke. This user-friendly system can be accessed on laptops or tablets from anywhere across the globe.
After uploading the brushstroke data onto the system, Acrylic robots, equipped with paint brush attachments, replicate the original painting with incredible precision. Ryan elucidated that this technology empowers artists to expand their customer reach by creating limited editions at more affordable prices without compromising their income.
Ryan presented this game-changing robot tech at the Hardware Tech and Founders Showcase, an exhibition in Toronto organized by the founder-support group Journey. The demonstration involved a robotic arm holding a brush, meticulously recreating an image from digitized files onto a blank canvas.
At the event, Acrylic presented two robotically reproduced paintings, two identical images of a lion’s head by the Toronto-based artist Matt Chessco, who collaborated with Acrylic on a pilot project. Visibly the same, a closer examination revealed slight variances in the brush strokes, which Ryan considers an appealing element of their project.
Initially, Ryan believed that near perfection was a prerequisite to appease artists, but subsequent research revealed that artists appreciate a touch of imperfection. Ryan emphasized that minor discrepancies add value as they make the piece feel more unique and meaningful as opposed to mass-produced artwork.
She acknowledged the inevitability of minuscule inconsistencies due to paint mixing and brush dipping. However, she maintains strict quality control, and occasionally some are removed from the released collection. Macroscopically, the aim remains to create near-identical reproductions.