Grand Rapids Artprize and the Role of Technology

Artprize and the role of technology

Below you can read about the evolution of the use of technology within Artprize. For more information visit

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

I have taken art classes my entire life, I have learned about the history, the techniques, the famous artists, and so much more. One thing I had never heard of was Artprize. When I used to think of art I would think of the things I had created in the classroom, I understand what art is, I know that it is used to appeal to the audience’s’ senses and that there is usually hidden meanings behind the pieces created. The first time I heard about Artprize was during my senior year when I told my art teacher that I had made my final decision to attend Grand Valley in the fall. My teacher was ecstatic to tell me about the festival, making it out to be the largest public art event in the world. And that is exactly what it is. It was also mentioned recently on the list of the ‘52 best places to go in 2016’ by New York Times (“Plan Your Visit”, 2016). I have been able to attend Artprize both of the years I have lived here, and even though two years isn’t much, the range of art I have seen is just incredible.

What most people don’t realize is that this festival is a little more complicated than just setting up artwork around the city. In the last decade, technology has continued to transform and develop at a record breaking pace. We are hearing about new additions to technology on the daily, which just reiterates that the future of technology is now. Because of this, technology is the basis of everything from education to entertainment. This also includes the art industry, and more specific to that, Artprize. The software developers of Artprize are always looking for new advanced ways to give visitors an opportunity to personally engage with the art. In 2014 Jonathan Hunsberger, the Artprize Director of Technology, said this: “One of the challenges we face is how to innovate on our platform and increase user engagement with ArtPrize” (Artprize Technology, 2014), speaking on the struggles of incorporating technology to open the festival up to all generations. They have continued to come up with ways to accomplish this every year since.


In the last few years the software developers of Artprize have been successful in finding ways to allow guests to make the most of their trip to the festival. The biggest advancement for Artprize technology so far is the building of their app. The app launched in winter of 2014 and ever since the launch, they have been looking for ways to improve the app.

Recently, there was a re-launching of the app to be ready for Artprize Eight. Below is a statement from Jonathan Hunsberger, during an interview with Jaenell Woods talking about the importance of keeping up with advance technology within the festival, “ArtPrize is an ever-evolving experiment, and technology is an essential catalyst within it. After eight years, we’re excited to still be leading the way audiences engage contemporary art through the use of technology” (Woods, 2016).  The new app features an entirely new experience for those attending the festival. To get more specific, this year’s app includes the List Feature (allowing you to scroll through every entry) and the Interactive Map Feature (allowing you to gather more information on the pieces nearby) which also has a new ‘discover view’ which helps you locate what is around you including the artwork as well as places to eat, public bathrooms, and more, both features drastically enhancing the app.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The app is mainly known for giving guests the ability to vote for their favorite pieces right at their fingertips, because of this, the amount of people voting has increased extravagantly. For the second year Meijer released a huge incentive within the voting part of the app. “Meijer mPerks members using the mobile app can participate in the Meijer mPerks rewards program. The first 30,000 mPerks members to use the ArtPrize mobile app and opt-in to the ArtPrize mPerks promotion will earn one exclusive mPerks offer” (Woods, 2016). We are also able to see in real-time the role that technology has played in truly advancing and enhancing the festival, “In 2012, only 12% of the people attending ArtPrize was apart of the voting” (Simon 2012). Since then, voting has gone up to 19%, not including Artprize Eight.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Now, we all know how big of a role technology plays in our daily lives. This is extremely helpful when it comes to getting the word out there about Artprize and the city of Grand Rapids itself. Restaurants, bars, stores, businesses, and much more have most likely been using social media like Facebook, twitter, and Instagram to promote themselves especially during this time of the year.


Woods, J. (2016, July 26). Introduces New Mobile Experience. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from

Plan Your Visit. (2016). Retrieved  October 11, 2016 from

Hunsburger, J. (2014, October 13). Retrieved October 12, 2016 from

Simon, N. (October 10, 2016). Voting on Art and its Surprising consequences. In museumtwo.bogspot. Retrieved October 12, 2016,
Exploring Our Town. (N.D.). Retrieved October 13, 2016,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s