News / Vancouver

City of Vancouver seeks artists to cover utility boxes with unique designs

The City of Vancouver is looking for artists to create designs to wrap around utility boxes in order to deter graffiti.

A decorated utility box in Vancouver.

Sherwood411/Flickr

A decorated utility box in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver wants local artists to spruce up a few dozen boring utility boxes scattered at major intersections throughout the city in an effort to discourage graffiti on the blank surfaces.

The city put out a call for artists to submit digital designs to be printed on vinyl wraps to cover approximately 27 utility boxes throughout the city. Artists will be paid $1,000 for every successful design chosen, according to the online call for submissions posted last week.

Utility boxes are frequent vandalism targets, according to a memo from the city’s engineering services manager.

But beautification as an anti-vandalism strategy has previously worked on boxes in the West End and along Granville Street. (Murals are also used to deter graffiti.)

The city ran a successful pilot project covering boxes with art in the West End in 2015, which followed in the footsteps of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association’s 2013 partnership with Emily Carr University to decorate a dozen electrical boxes along the downtown segment of Granville Street. These boxes are still covered to this day.

While the city can’t promise the artists that vandalism won’t befall their work, it does say it will try to remove any graffiti as it arises. In order to deter vandals, the city recommends artists limit blank space in their designs.

The city will reject designs that show traffic lights or signs and will give preference to designs without text. Once a design is purchased, the city can reproduce it or relocate the wrap at any time.  

Artists can submit designs until April 6.

Image courtesy Flickr user Sherwood411

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