Art at ETC: a behind-the-scenes look


There has been an increase in color in ETC’s Wisconsin offices over the course of the year. White breakrooms are now anything but. The large open space above the shipping department in Middleton’s headquarters building is no longer open. And large white walls are slowing being filled.

ETC Art South break room

This is all in an effort to brighten up the dull and mundane. In true ETC style, if we can incorporate art into our daily lives in an unexpected way, then we do.

“I don’t actually remember how we got started.” Says Susan Foster, one of four members of the factory art initiative team and wife of CEO, Fred Foster. “We were all taking photos for third-floor lounge decorating inspiration. We took our favorite leftover photos and framed them for the feature wall or made them into coasters and custom pillow fabrics.”

ETC Art Scrap Metal

ETC Art Lenses
ETC fixture lenses were photographed and used as custom fabric for pillows

Several of the other unused photos included machinery from around the factory. Events and project assistant, Erica Abbott mentioned that one machine in the metal shop looked a bit like Zorak, the seven-foot green mantis who first appeared in the Hanna-Barbera animated series Space Ghost. It wasn’t long before a giant green mantis painting appeared.

ETC Art Metal Shop Zorak

Factory Animal Art

“We’re trying to create artwork that represents each department,” says Liz Rathke, ETC video producer, director, and mural artist. “Which is exactly why Zorak was born.” He now lives on the large, formerly empty wall outside of the metal shop.

ETC Art Zorak Metal Shop
“Zorak” lives on a wall outside of the metal shop in Middleton, WI

The team was looking for ways to test drive different materials and framing formats and these targeted art installations seem to be a fun way to accomplish both.

Shortly before Zorak, came the box dragon. This cardboard sculpture was the first to appear in the factory and is the project that launched the Factory Animals series. Kate Foster, marketing communications specialist, based the design on an installation she saw at an art show in New York.

Box Dragon White ETC Art

When we approached our box vendor (The Royal Group) with the project, they were glad to help out. One of the engineers at The Royal Group pre-made many of the coils that make up the dragon’s body. Kate Foster designed and created the head.

Other Factory Animals include Pteri, who lives outside of the harness department in our Mazomanie building.

ETC Art Pteri
“Pteri” lives outside of the harness department in ETC Mazomanie.
ETC art Jabba
“Jabba” the copier lives near the ETC tech writing department.

…and Jabba, who bears a striking resemblance to the monstrous copy machine that lives near our team of ETC tech writers.

As for the future, there are several more Factory Animals in the works. The north breakroom is also on the list for a custom paint job come January 2018.  One thing is true, creativity echoes from every corner of the ETC and these art installations are proof.

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Rachel Frederick
Rachel has worked with ETC since 2007. She takes advantage of the limited warm months in Wisconsin by participating in outdoor activities like camping, paddle boarding, kayaking, and riding waterslides. She has several gardens that she swears she’ll be able to keep up with someday. And she enjoys stretchy things like new socks, yoga, and taffy. She writes a lot, she reads a lot and she plays with her kids a lot.