ArtPrize is the largest judged art competition in the world. Luckily, this competition takes place right here in the grandest of rapids. Richard DeVos came up with this idea in 2009, announcing this a brand new “social experiment” and hoped for the best for his hometown. As said by the ArtPrize Story Page in 2016, “Radically open by design, ArtPrize was conceived as a disruption of the traditional top-down art contest—a totally new type of event.” And this is what it was, no one has seen anything like this before. Most art competitions are judged privately and even have a cost of admission, but ArtPrize changed this. ArtPrize is all public, all free, and all welcome. Artists put up there work all around the city, whether it’s outside the Van Andel Arena, or in the abundance of restaurants and local shops, art is everywhere. This also brings in business for local restaurants in the area that agree to include art in there establishments, which in return provide business. I mean, who doesn’t want to enjoy some beautiful art while sipping on a nice cold brew from The B.O.B.

The most important piece of ArtPrize is the technology behind it to make the experience even better for everyone. In 2013, ArtPrize came up with an idea to help the reoccurring question that was asked by ArtPrize-goers, “Where do I start?” This was an issue especially for visitors from other states, even countries, because they simply didn’t know where to go due to their lack of knowledge of the city. ArtPrize executives created a list on the ArtPrize home page to guide users to maps, biographies, and even actual pictures of the art itself (Unger 2011). This was just the first step to help guide users around the city to different locations.

Along with this new technology, ArtPrize has done even more since then to improve the experience for goers. In, 2010 ArtPrize released its first mobile app, letting users use a map and look at descriptions for current artists or art (Reimink 2010). This app was revolutionary and finally gave visitors a way to figure out what to see and where to go at their fingertips. This app has also recently been updated for this year’s ArtPrize. New features to the app include the discover view, providing access to the ArtPrize blog and event calendar, constantly updating you on the happenings of the event (Henschke 2016). This mobile app was downloaded by thousands, and I even used it when attending ArtPrize with my girlfriend. Link to Android app here, link to iTunes app here.

Shown above is the new and improved ArtPrize mobile app being put to use at one of the venues in downtown Grand Rapids

When this mobile app was launched in 2010, ArtPrize received a very vital sponsorship to help those using the app. Comcast agreed to sponsor ArtPrize in 2010 and provided new “High speed 2go” to help ArtPrize visitors vote on their favorite art at five convenient kiosk locations and three roving mobile voting stations within the three square-mile radius of the event ( Business News 2010). This gave an opportunity to submit their vote easily and on-the-go so they could get back to enjoying the city show.

As more and more sponsorships flowed each and every year for ArtPrize, one very important one changed how we see ArtPrize. In 2016, Switch, a Nevada-based company, wanted to sponsor ArtPrize for the 8th annual event. Switch will host an interactive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educational experience at the HUB Headquarters located at 41 Sheldon Boulevard SE (Harger 2016). This experience brought about a hands-on experience for visitors of all ages. They will feature virtual games, demonstrations, and even a virtual painting experience. “We’re thrilled to work alongside Switch through their leadership-level investment to bolster educational programming at ArtPrize Eight,” said Christian Gaines, ArtPrize executive director. Steam plans on attending ArtPrize Nine with even more games and technology based activities.

ArtPrize has advanced to be better than it was when it started in 2009. Whether it was giving visitors the opportunity to use an app, a list on their website, or even an interactive based HUB to attract younger users , ArtPrize has improved with the use of technology. I have been to the past 2 ArtPrizes and I already have seen much improvement. Richard DeVos…props to you wise man.

Here are some of my favs from the Eighth Annual ArtPrize:








ArtPrize Story. (2016, Summer). Retrieved October 13, 2016, from

Business News; Comcast Announces Technology Sponsorship for ArtPrize (2010, October 6). Retrieved October 13, 2016, from

Harger, J. (2016, July 21). Switch embraces ArtPrize, will sponsor high-tech learning experience. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from

Henschke, L. (2016, July 26). ArtPrize updates mobile app experience. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from

Reimink, T. (2016, September 22). Artprize app has people on the hunt in Grand Rapids. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from

Unger, L. (2011, September 22). Technology Helps ArtPrize Visitors Find A Starting Point. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from|A267654878&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&userGroup=lom_gvalleysu&authCount=1


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