ArtPrize Gets the TechPrize

With the world’s largest art competition in full swing in Grand Rapids, technology is always a huge part of the festival. Whether it be within the art, how people share the art, or how they vote on the art. From the beginning of the art competition, bringing the community together has been at the forefront of the festival’s goals. Rick DeVos, the creator of ArtPrize, said in 2009, “It’s time to reboot the conversation between artists and the public. ArtPrize will be a celebration of art, design, and innovation that will bring artists and the public together like never before,” (ArtPrize, 2009). A key aspect of creating that sense of community is through technology. The Grands Rapids Mayor, George Heartwell, went on to say, “I’m astounded by the potential for social networking, community involvement, and the expanded view of the role of art. ArtPrize will excite the world, and the world will look at our city differently because of it,” (ArtPrize, 2009).

But with any usage of technology, when that aspect fails, it can sometimes have devastating repercussions. When a glitch in Amazon’s Web Services occurred only hours after the festival began, the leaders at ArtPrize scrambled to fix the issue (N.A., 2015). Thankfully enough, when the app and the website stopped working Wednesday afternoon, neither voters or artists were too upset about the blackout (Francis, 2015). ArtPrize is a competition that runs for three weeks in the fall and because the website was only down for a few hours, the impact wasn’t a detrimental amount.

An ArtPrize app was rereleased in 2014 that was downloaded over 100,000 times with 398,714 votes cast over the 19 day competition in 2014, making the app the preferred medium of voting (ArtPrize, 2014). ArtPrize goers can download the app on their iPhone or Android device and gain access to voting, venue locations, as well as news about events taking place throughout the ArtPrize competition. Additions to the app in 2014 included “continuously updated ArtPrize blog and event information, updated venue and entry profiles, and the ability to search for venues near a specific location,” (ArtPrize, 2014).

ArtPrize iPhone App
Photo Credit: Rachel Berzins

In addition to the app that integrates technology into the competition, the artists are embracing the culture and utilizing technology to their advantage. Whether it be within the art, or creating a hashtag for the art piece, or encouraging viewers to capture themselves with the art and sharing that picture. According to Jaenell Woods, “The intersection of art and technology is central to the way that ArtPrize was founded and continues to run to this day, powering the public vote and the artist-venue connections process, as well as influencing the way that artists make and share their work,” (Woods, 2015). The social media aspect to ArtPrize is key to the success of the competition. The buzz that is created when ArtPrize goers take pictures with the art, check in at an art piece, or just share their happenings via social media is a huge aspect of advertising the competition and drawing in more guests.

Girls taking Selfie
Photo Credit: Rachel Berzins

Whether the technology is within the art, about the art, or for the art, ArtPrize revolves around technology and that will never change. As ArtPrize continues to grow and expand over the years, the usage of technology will only increase as a way to help the viewer experience and create a better environment for ArtPrize goers to visit.


ArtPrize. (2009, April 23). ArtPrize Media Kit 2009. Retrieved from

ArtPrize. (2014). ArtPrize Media Kit 2009. Retrieved from

(2015, September 23). ArtPrize web site crashes on opening day. Fox 17. Retrieved from

Francis, Erica. (2015, September 23). ArtPrize kicks off despite technical glitches. Fox 17. Retrieved from

Woods, Jaenell. (2015, September 10). ArtPrize Releases Mobile App for Seventh Edition. ArtPrize. Retrieved from


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