Real Art Retrospective: 30 Years of Building Wonder


“Real Art was founded on the concept of giving the client something unexpected. Each project along the way has taught us something different and has opened the doors to new opportunities. I’m surprised all the time, like, ‘that’s gonna work?’ And then it does. That’s when the real art happens, when you’re really pushed to the limit.”

– Betsy McFaddin, employee #2

As Real Art celebrates our 30th anniversary, we’re taking a look back over the last three decades to reminisce on our milestones. Keep reading for a blitz through history.

Employees: 5
Offices: 1

Our doors open in October, 1985. Theo Williams founds the company with a noble dream to make “real art.” Clients in these early years include Cub Foods, Universal Studios, Dayton Children’s, and Elder Beerman. A rascal named Chris Wire is hired as an intern. He’s got lofty ambitions and sets us on a course to do big things.

Employees: 12
Offices: 2

We grow fast. This is the beginning of digital, the years of CD-ROMs and Dreamweaver, and our first website (for a local goat farm). We grow from one room in the historic Oregon District to owning the whole building. In true Real Art style, after buying the building next door we simply cut a hole in the wall and DIY a tunnel between. Our client roster grows, including Arkansas Children’s, FordGM, Mead, VTech, and Wilson Dow. Scott Burtscher opens the Chicago office. Jenn Gobrail founds Real Mart. We start a blog, create puppets of ourselves, make beef jerky, and celebrate our 20th anniversary with a circus-themed bonanza.

Employees: 69
Offices: 3

We explode in size, and bursting at the seams we move into cool new headquarters. Alien Workshop taps us for the Apocalypse Series, we enter a demolition derby, host a roller disco, create the infamous Santa Claw, and go to the Super Bowl. This is when we invent Marv and the Ro-Bros, get Shamrocked, build the FlyRig, and make national TV commercials for SportsNY. Our client roster grows, including 7-Eleven, Hobart, L’Oréal, NCAA, Sears, Sylvan, and the US Air Force. We get to hang out with Rico Rodriguez filming more TV commercials. We continue to win lots of awards. We get real good at making apps. We open the New York office and a 8,800-square-foot development lab to build physical experiences. We create Proto BuildBar, the world’s first maker space bar/café, and celebrate 30 years with a medieval-themed bash.


Thanks to all our friends, family, and clients through the decades for giving us incredible opportunities to invent, tinker, hack, and create. Shoot us an email if you have a memory you’d like to add to the list. Cheers to another 30 years of building wonder.

– Your friends at Real Art

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