For those who are not familiar with ArtPrize, here’s a quick run-down of what the contest is about and how it comes together (grossly oversimplified here; visit for fuller information).

1. Venues

Any space that’s within the 3-square-mile area of downtown Grand Rapids that makes up the ArtPrize district can register to be a venue for a fee of $100. Once registered, venues use the ArtPrize website to connect with artists whose work they’d like to show. Those who want to work on spaces but do not have their own can consider curating others’ spaces. ArtPrize offers more than $40,000 in grants to qualified venues to help them set up their exhibit. There is also an award for best venue.

2. Artists 

Any artist, from anywhere in the world, who is at least 18 years old can enter a work in the contest, unless they won a public vote or juried award in the previous year’s contest. First, artists must register (2015 fee was $50). Then artists use the ArtPrize website to connect with venues and come to an agreement with one of them. Once an artist has found a venue, they are “accepted” into ArtPrize.

Artists can offer their work for sale on their profile on the ArtPrize website, but all negotiations and payment are between the artist and the buyer; ArtPrize doesn’t process payments or take a commission on sales.

3. The Artworks 

ArtPrize accepts entries in four categories: 2D, 3D, Time-Based, and Installation. Images of many 2015 entries are listed on the ArtPrize website–just click “Find Art” at the top of the ArtPrize site’s front page to start looking!

4. The Votes

Members of the public who attend ArtPrize can vote for the works of art that they find most deserving of prizes. The easiest way to vote seems to be to download the ArtPrize app. You can register as a voter via the app or the ArtPrize website. The first round of voting opens on Wednesday, September 23 at noon. Each artwork will include an Artist Vote Code. Voters can use this code to vote for an artwork via the app, by texting the Artist Vote Code to 808080, or by visiting a voting site in Grand Rapids.

5. The Prizes 

The prize total has varied somewhat from year to year. Last year, a total of $540,000 in prizes was awarded. This year, the total will be $500,000. If you include all the grants that are available for venues and artists, you get over $700,000. There are potentially two winners in each art category (see #3, above). The public vote winner and the juried award winner in each category win a prize of $12,500. Then there are two grand prizes–one public vote and one juried–each of which is a $200,000 prize. Another award of $12,500 is given to an outstanding venue.

So, that’s how ArtPrize works, in a nutshell. The reality is an amazing three-week event that takes hundreds of thousands of hours of work from thousands of people to bring to a reality. Here’s the 2013 video for a glimpse of what all that work creates.