Art Battle is the global live art tournament.
Artists compete live – transforming blank canvas to finished works, as audiences experience the spectacle and individual creations. The audience decides their winners each round, with votes cast for their chosen artist.
In 50 cities around the world, hundreds of event winners are chosen each year by local audiences, artist judges, and online audiences to advance into the next level. From local events through 4 levels of National and International competition, artists have their chance to win all the way to the World Championships. The next World Championship event is in Tokyo, in October 2020.
Art Battle was created in 2001 in New York City, with the first event on Houston open to the street as interested people poured in to watch 6 artists throw down in black and white in one 90 minute round. The environment for artists in NYC at that time was one of stiff competition, and many had ambitions of becoming the next art star as exemplified by the likes of Warhol, Haring and Basquiat. At the same time, the gatekeepers of the art world held big power in determining who would be that next star.
Art Battle was a response to the tension of competition and the frustration of gatekeeping – a way for artists to come together, bringing the competition to the surface, and allowing the people to decide their Champions. As the show evolved, the talent of Art Battle artists was recognized through collaborations with MTV, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and tours of top Art Battle artists traveling across the country and internationally saw Art Battle reach new hearts and minds.
In 2009 the Art Battle Tournament was born with first events in Toronto, Canada. In a format still used today, each event featured 12 artists in a one-night tournament of three 20-minute rounds. With a series of events in each city throughout the season, local artistic communities in cities in the US, Canada, around the world gather around the talent of artists and foster a congregational experience. A single city season might see 100 artists as competitors, their fans, and patrons gathering on monthly basis to cheer as All Stars and New Stars stepped to the easel. By 2015, Art Battle celebrations were going strong in Canada, the US, the UK, Brazil, and China.
In 2020, more than 250 Art Battle events around the world will contribute to the World Championship event in Tokyo. As artists perform, audiences vote in person and online; and the best move on to higher levels in the tournament to be celebrated globally.
Art Battle Co-Founders
Sean Bono created the first Art Battle events in New York in 2001, and has worked for almost 20 years to advance the idea of live art competition. He is an active cog in the Art Battle wheel, and runs the Art Battle Mural team.
Simon Plashkes launched the Art Battle Tournament in Toronto, and works with Art Battle communities around the world to help see them grow and celebrate Artistic talent, and to pursue fair voting so that we can always see that the Best Art Wins! Simon also works with brands and partners to see hired events produced in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Chris Pemberton is the Art Battle Tournament Commissioner. Chris is currently on artistic sabbatical, but has been responsible for creating shows that balance competition and community, and leave artists feeling supported while bringing the very best to showcase to the world.