Improving technology at ArtPrize

It is hard to believe that there is only one week left of ArtPrize! Time sure flies when you are having fun. Have you checked it out yet? Yesterday, the top ten winners were announced. All the winners and locations of the their entries can be found here.

Last week, I talked about how technology launched ArtPrize. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, you can check it out here. This week, I am going to continue on with the technology theme, expect now I am going to talk about how technology could be improved at ArtPrize.

I had the opportunity to visit ArtPrize twice within the past two weeks. The first day I went was opening day, September 18. It was pretty crowded, and one of the first things that I had noticed was how slow my phone was running. I have Sprint, which mainly runs on 3G, and there were several times when my phone was running so slow that I could not upload anything on FourSquare or Facebook. I figured that the networks might have been over worked  due to a large amount of people using them. However, last night I went to ArtPrize, and again I had trouble connecting to FourSquare and Facebook. This time, FourSquare timed out several times, and I got an error message saying “could not connect to network”. This kept happening several times throughout the night, and it was pretty frustrating. 

At first, I thought that it might have just Sprint that was having problems. However, during the first weekend of ArtPrize, many Verizon users reported network problems.  According to Brezening, “Verizon tells WZZM 13 that data traffic from downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday overwhelmed their systems.  They are making additions this week, so that problem should be resolved” (Brezening, 2013).

In order to fix this problem, I believe that it would be beneficial for ArtPrize to add more WiFi hotspots.  WiFi hotspots would allow people to connect to the internet for free, and would give them more opportunities to share their experiences at ArtPrize verses just relying on their cellular network alone. This year, ArtPrize teamed up with Iserv again to provide WiFi hotspots.  Last year, over 100.000 people used these free WiFi services (Wood. 2013). According to Johnson-Wood, ” In 2013, free Wi-Fi zones include Rosa Parks Circle, inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum, inside the ArtPrize Hub on Sheldon Avenue, inside the ArtPrize Clubhouse at J. Gardella’s, in the park between the Blue Bridge and the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and on the Blue Bridge” (Wood, 2013).However, it is important to note that there is not a WiFi hotspot in one of the largest sections of ArtPrize: the Bob. The B.OB. has over fifty art entries  this year, yet there is no WiFi hotspot in the area. It is clearly a high traffic area, because  several of the top twenty five picks are at the B.OB., and also one of the top ten picks, Tired Pandas is located within the vicinity. While I was at Artprize again last night, I barely had two bars of service, and there were no WiFi hotspots that I could connect to without a code. My phone was also took several minutes to receive and send text messages, so I just found it easier to go home and vote with my own WiFi.  Thus, it would be very beneficial to have a WiFi hotspot to the B.O.B for next year’s ArtPrize.

I also believe that ArtPrize should encourage artists to set up a Facebook or Twitter. Last year, the hast tag ArtPrize was mentioned 28.000 times on Twitter (Kaczmarycyzk, 2013). The ArtPrize Facebook page has over 70.000 likes and 18.000 Twitter followers (Kaczmarycyzk, 2013).  Social media is a great way to connect with the voters and the community. It would also allow constant communication between both parties, and could lead to other opportunities such as selling other art pieces, or even getting profiled in a media program.  Several of the pieces that I saw did not have any contact information available for the artist.

Go ahead and check out the last week of ArtPrize! It goes on until October 6!

References :

Brezening, B. (2013, September 23). Verizon resolves to fix ArtPrize voting issues. In WZZM13 . Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Johnson-Wood, D. (2013, September 26). Iserv covers ArtPrize hotspots with free Wi-Fi, seeks sales and tech folks to fill jobs. In Rapid Growth. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Kaczmarcyzk, J. (2013, September 24). ArtPrize 2012’s Top 25 favorites in the popular vote are in only a handful of venues. In MLive. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Kaczmarcyzk, J. (2013). ArtPrize 2013: Exploring event’s effects on Grand Rapids in numbers. In MLive. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

The B.OB. . (n.d.). In ArtPrize . Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

How technology launched ArtPrize


Ever since it first launched in 2009, ArtPrize has relied on technology to connect voters and artists from around the world in various ways. What exactly is ArtPrize? According to, “ArtPrize® is a radically open, independently organized international art competition with an unprecedented $200,000 top prize decided entirely by public vote” (, 2013).  Taking place in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, MI  from September 18-October 6, 2013, ArtPrize is a free event that anyone can attend (“About”, 2013). Anyone over the age of 18 from around the world can enter this unique art competition and has the chance to win the opportunity of a lifetime. Over the course of two and a half weeks, the public votes for the entries that they like best, and will finally narrow it down to one winner at the end (“About” , 2013).

This year, about half of a million people are expected to visit ArtPrize (Pobric, 2013). Every year, the amount of people that attend ArtPrize keeps growing. In 2009, only 200,000 people visited the first ArtPrize. Just three years later in 2012,  that number had doubled to about 400,000 (Pobric, 2013). Many influential people in the Grand Rapids community donate to ArtPrize and you can find more information about that here.

Technology plays an important role in ArtPrize by encouraging the public to participate. The director of ArtPrize, Christian Gaines, explained the importance of technology in ArtPrize in  a recent interview conducted by Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press. According to Stryker:

“But ArtPrize has used technology not just to attract artists and venues but to register the public and then to get them to vote. That’s a unique concept…Normally when talk about social networking  you throw as wide a net as possible, trying to get as many followers or likes as possible. But this is really about the audience taking part in the event and really participating” (Stryker, 2013).

ArtPrize gives voters many options to place their votes. Some people may choose to register and vote online. There are also the options to vote via text message, or if you a a smart phone user, you can download the ArtPrize application (“Voting Rules”, 2013). As of September 25, 2013, there have been over 247,000 votes cast (No Title,, 2013). You can keep track of how many votes are cast daily on the ArtPrize homepage  here .

One of the most popular ways to vote is the app. Launched by Atomic Object in 2009, the app was first made available to iPhone users (“ArtPrize voting app”, N.D). The original app was very basic and gave users the option to vote, know how many artists and venues there were, and maps of the locations (“ArtPrize Voting App”, N.D). The next year, the app got even more updates including better maps, easier voting system using shorter digits, options to share activity through social media, and much more (“ArtPrize Voting App”, N.D).  Finally, the app was made available to Android users in 2011 (“ArtPrize Voting App”, N.D.)

I was able to experience ArtPrize for the first time last week. It was amazing and overwhelming at the same time. I never knew how creative people could get with art. And of course, I was used as much technology as I possibly could so that I could capture special moments of this trip to ArtPrize. I used FourSquare to check into places, and I took probably 50 or more pictures with my phone. And as I looked around me, a lot of people were doing the exact same thing.

Make sure to check out ArtPrize! It runs until October 6th. Check back next week for another ArtPrize related post.


About. (2013). In ArtPrize. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

No title. (2013) In ArtPrize. Retrieved September 25, 2013 from

Pobric, P. (2013, September 18). Half a million expected to visit Grand Rapids Art Prize. The Art Newspaper. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Stryker, M. (2013, September 18). 5 questions with Christian Gaines, director of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Calvin College Hekman Library openURL resolverVoting Rules. (2013) In ArtPrize. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Picture: From personal collection, taken on September 18, 2013 in downtown Grand Rapids