This is where I constructed the Mobile Incubator, and it’s favorite arts incubator model in the country. The artisan business incubator of Mighty Tieton was started 10 years ago, and includes about 100,000 sq ft of warehouse and store fronts. It’s now home to dozens of arts businesses. This is the inception point for the Mobile Incubator where I first started dreaming about a road trip to investigate the crossroads of art & business.
Tieton Mosaic is a design and production studio nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State. “Tieton” refers to the the quaint and humble City of Tieton set within the high desert agricultural region of Yakima - the “fruit bowl of America” - and is characterized by expansive fruit orchards, fields of mint and trellises covered in grapes and hops.
Beginning in the early 1900s and continuing for the next fifty years, crate labels for these agricultural products were one of the great success stories of 20th century American advertising. Colorful, cheeky, rich in effects and stylizations, these crate labels inspired the bold design aesthetics of Tieton Mosaic.
Coupled with this regional design history, Tieton Mosaic’s craft is also modeled after another American legacy: the typographic mosaics of the New York City subway system. These two important hallmarks of American craft and design combine into a unique business. The studios that once surfaced the New York City subway are long gone, and there is currently no other dedicated professional mosaic studios offering such services in the United States. With a pedigree that unites a revived craft with historical design thinking, Tieton Mosaic offers something that is profoundly American with a meaningful, storied charm.
Working primarily in glass mosaic, Tieton Mosaic can also produce works in marble, ceramic, paper, wood and acrylic. Some of the world’s oldest works of art on record are mosaics in glass and ceramic which do not fade over time like painted murals. The studio researches mosaic making from historical works and modern mosaic projects around the world.
Mosaics are inherently community building; young and old, professional and novice, folks from all walks find the process and the results to be engaging.
Both Tieton Arts & Humanities and Tieton Mosaic are part of Mighty Tieton, an artisan business incubator founded in 2006. These businesses accumulate a talent base of craftspeople and artists that create synergistic opportunities between each other. Mighty Tieton is an ecosystem of businesses that share a strong brand of being artisan, handmade, high design and exceptional quality. Tieton Mosaic benefits from the strong associative branding alongside design products like laser cut lamps from GrayPants, letterpress and silkscreen stationary from PaperHammer, book production from Lucia | Marquand and other companies operating in Tieton.
Yakima native Steve Morgan has been the lead artist for Tieton Mosaic since the beginning of the project in 2013 when Tieton Arts & Humanities received the prestigious “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Before joining Tieton Mosaic, one of Morgan’s jobs was making the fruit boxes and printing the crate labels that would inspire the bold aesthetics of Tieton Mosaic. Cheerful and patient, Morgan is a natural artist who is proficient in mosaic, sign painting, silkscreen, letterpress, airbrush, metal fabrication, and many industrial applications. Morgan is indispensable to Tieton Mosaic because he brings the fine skills of a mosaic artist, the typographical knowledge of a sign painter and a natural teaching ability for apprenticeships.
Ordering a custom sign for your home or business is easy and can be set up over the phone, email or a studio visit. You can also support Tieton Mosaic by donating toward its apprenticeship program, which pays local artists to learn mosaic skills. Individual artists and designers have elected to have their public art or product lines produced by Tieton Mosaic because this partnership demonstrates to granting orgs and investors the feasibility of accomplishing a large roll out.