Review: Art Battle Vancouver

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Brandon Artis Photography

Local art enthusiasts flock to the Red Room once a month for something called Art Battle. A unique and community driven art event, Art Battle is a live competitive painting event that spans over 30 cities across the country.

This is how it works: the night is broken down into three rounds of painting (two of which are qualifying and one being the final) where the painters push themselves to create the best work they possibly can in just twenty minutes. At the end of each round, the audience casts a vote for their favourite painting and also bid in a silent auction to take their favourite pieces home. The winner from the final round of painting takes home $250 cash.

The medium is acrylic paint and the tools allowed are brushes, palette knives or any non-mechanical implements. As the painters work, the attendees walk around the easels and watch the creative process unfold. The winners of the Art Battle regular season events advance to the City Finals and the winner of the City Finals in each city advances to the National Championship.

What really impressed me upon arrival was the immensely supportive atmosphere and community surrounding Art Battle. People of all ages (although you must be 19+ to attend) and backgrounds came out to support the event and its artists which isn’t always as common a sight to see.

We had a chance to chat with Angela Hillier, the Art Battle Vancouver and Victoria event producer, about what Art Battle has become since their inception and their plans for the future.

I know that Art Battle started in Toronto in 2009, but how long has Art Battle Vancouver been happening?

Art Battle Vancouver has been running for five years and I’ve been producing the event for the past twelve months. Vancouver is also one of Art Battle’s main cities drawing in between 100-300 people per month. The venue has changed quite a few times due to closures and thematic changes (one venue became a strip club), but we always make it work.

The community around Art Battle is very inclusive and participatory. Tell us about why that’s important to you guys?

Art Battle is a brand and each event provides a quality event for both the audience and painters. The whole premise behind Art Battle is to have an encouraging environment for local artists to thrive with audience members being able to see a process that is usually completely hidden.

We want the audience to feel like they are part of the event just as much as the artists who are painting. It’s about creating an artistic community that supports all kinds of artists and styles. It’s important for us to provide support for local artists, but more so to encourage ongoing events that allow for further opportunities for both artists and art lovers to enjoy.

In your opinion, what would you say makes Art Battle Vancouver unique compared to the the other participating cities?

Art Battle Vancouver is different from the other events because of the unique atmosphere of the city. I’m from Ottawa originally, and the events there have a different overall feel to them. B.C. is extremely encouraging of their arts community and you can see this in the confidence of the artists and the encouragement from the audience.

What are your plans for the growth of Art Battle Vancouver in 2016?

My plan for growing Art Battle this year is simple: have every event be a ton of fun so that people continue to come back. When I first painted at Art Battle about three years ago, I was immediately hooked by the ambiance of the room and the constant smile on my face (even though my hands were shaking, I was so nervous).

I want every event to be amazing for everyone so that my network is consistent but also ever-evolving. I want more artists to give the format a try; to experiment and see if they enjoy it. I want more people to be curious about what live painting is all about, but mostly I want these events to continue to support local artists and the art community in it’s entirety.

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Vanessa Tam is a freelance writer and marketing professional living and working in Vancouver, BC. Drake lyrics effectively communicate her pop culture relevancy as well as her excellent taste in music.
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