Culture Envy: Art Battle returns showcasing competitions between local painters

Artists have 20 minutes to create the best work they can

Danica Noort participating in an art battle. (Submitted, Cameron Frazier)

Danica Noort participating in an art battle. (Submitted, Cameron Frazier)

For almost two years, Art Battle was postponed due to the pandemic. 

Like most in-person events, the series that brought local artists and the community together for an evening of friendly competition and entertainment had to go on hiatus as health regulations prohibited gatherings. But this year, Art Battle returned to The Red Room in Vancouver following the guidelines in British Columbia’s provincial health orders. 

Art Battle event producer and social media manager Lindsay Rae Meier said there were challenges preparing for the event. 

“The set-up for the event is much different than our normal style. Generally, walking around and mingling is encouraged,” Meier wrote in an email to The Runner

Restrictions included having the artists be on a stage at the front of the venue instead of in the middle of the floor, she said. 

Before the pandemic, the event was broken into three rounds of painting, with five painters in a circle constructing their best work in 20 minutes. The audience would walk around observing the artists, and at the end of each round, they would vote for their favourite artwork. The crowd also has the opportunity to bid on the work to take home, and $250 is awarded to the winner in the final round. 

With the restrictions, Meier said her favourite part about Art Battle is the atmosphere and community feeling. 

“It’s a safe space for artists and art lovers alike to come together, interact, and have fun. I also love seeing what the artists can create in just 20 minutes as well,” she wrote.

Jenna Cowie-Randle, a visual artist from Abbotsford, was excited to hear Art Battle was returning to Vancouver again. 

Cowie-Randle specializes in graphic and dark art, using mainly acrylic paints and illustration pens. Her inspiration comes from, but is not limited to, comic books and album covers. 

“I’m so excited to actually have the opportunity to participate again,” says Cowie-Randle. “It’s just a really fun, lively atmosphere … it’s a great way to meet other people that are doing the things you’re interested in, so I just wanted to get back into that.” 

“It’s so nice to know that there are a lot of other people and a community of people that like to do what you do as well. It’s like this team feeling.” 

Although she is under a time crunch, she says preparation is key in managing the 20-minute time frame. 

“Sometimes it’s difficult to come up with a plan or know what kind of ideas you might want to do in that moment. But I find if I have a blueprint or a template in my head of what I want to do, then it really helps the time management of 20 minutes.” 

Danica Noort, a visual artist in Maple Ridge and a participant since 2017, says being a part of the event helps artists promote their work. 

“Sometimes as artists, a lot of people can end up working from their studio or from home and you end up not being able to really see many people or really expose yourself to the public or get to see people in the community as well,” says Noort. 

“I was looking for an outlet to be able to participate in a more public realm.” 

Noort says from her times competing at Art Battle, one memory that resonates with her is when a spectator purchased her art from the show. 

“It actually sold for the highest price in the auction that night,” she says. “But afterwards, the person who bought it came up to me and wanted to take a picture, and they were really excited to have the artwork to be able to take home with them.” 

It’s important for artists to have these events to get them out of their comfort zone and have fun, Noort says.  

“It pushes people outside of their comfort zones a little bit, and I know that’s a rather stressful thing for some people,” says Noort. “But I think that it’s kind of nice for people to not take themselves too seriously sometimes.”