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PaintBox

Every year, the City selects artists to paint utility boxes across the City.

The PaintBox program is a collaboration between:

Selected artists paint the utility boxes with their original designs.

Note: Applications for the 2022 PaintBox program have closed.

Utility box painted by Elliot Portman

About the Program

Program Context

The PaintBox program contributes to the vitality of the urban streetscape. The boxes reflect the diverse people, ideas, histories, and futures of everyday Bostonians.

The City of Boston first launched the PaintBox program in 2008 with the Boston Art Commission, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, and the neighborhood beautification program Love Your Block (formerly Boston Shines).

The goal of the PaintBox program is to beautify neighborhoods and introduce residents to the artists that live among them. As the City invests more in public art, PaintBox has also become a great opportunity for emerging artists.

We recognize that many of Boston’s artists and community leaders might have been displaced but continue to make art in Boston. Artists that do not live in Boston but continue to work to improve the quality of life for Boston residents are welcome to apply. We will ask applicants to identify their relationship to their preferred neighborhood.

PaintBox by Jasmine Lee
PaintBox by Jasmine Lee in Chinatown.
PROJECT AWARD 

Artists will receive a $500 stipend for their project. They will receive $200 upon approval of their application to cover the cost of supplies. Artists will then receive $300 upon completion of the box.

Artists are required to register as a vendor with the City of Boston (or provide an existing vendor ID number). They will also be asked to pick up an official PaintBox badge after receiving their acceptance letter via email.

To receive the final payment, artists must submit the following:

  • A photo of the electric utility meter number (if visible)
  • Photos of the completed PaintBox
  • A payment request form for the remaining amount of $300

PaintBox by Mattaya Fitts
Utility box painted by Mattaya Fitts.

How to Apply

What You Need
  • Artist StatementA few sentences that describe your artistic style, including the themes and materials that you explore in your artwork. 
  • Artist PortfolioUp to 10 images of completed past work that you feel is relevant to this project. (One image per file; jpg, tiff, or MP4 file types; limit videos to two minutes or less)
  • Design Description and ApproachTell us about the concept behind your design and the process you will follow in order to ensure completion. 
  • Design: Artists may use the PaintBox templateArtists must agree that the Paintbox can be painted over at any time by the City of Boston.
  • Preferred Neighborhood(s): Please describe your connection to the site(s) and your reasoning for preferred neighborhood(s). We will do our best to assign you a box that fits with your desired location.

The 2022 PaintBox application has closed. Please check back for updates on next year's program.

The Criteria
  • Artists must live, work, or organize in Boston and be at least 18 years of age. We are especially interested in artists who are new to PaintBox.
  • Artists may submit up to three designs for one utility box. The designs must specifically connect to the preferred neighborhood and should align with the City of Boston's Curatorial Vision.
  • Designs should cover the entire utility box and avoid large monochrome areas. Designs must discreetly incorporate the artist's signature, website, and the text "City of Boston". Designs may not incorporate any other text.
  • Artists are responsible for ensuring the project's completion by October 1, 2022, and photographing the PaintBox for documentation.
  • We cannot approve PaintBox projects for historic districts.
  • The City will not approve any design that includes logos or advertisements. We will also not approve any imagery that may be confused for directional signage.
  • We believe that artists should be credited for their work. We may reject submissions that contain images of other artists’ works without credit or identification of their role.

2021 PaintBox Locations

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

No, this program is for artists that are at least 18 years of age. If you are looking for youth art programs and opportunities, we encourage you to check out the Mayor's Mural Crew and Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF). You can also sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about all new opportunities for artists.

Artists living outside of Boston can apply, but preference will be given to artists that have a connection to the sites. The goal is to make local artists more visible in their neighborhoods.

No, artists can only paint one box per year. However, artists can submit up to three designs for consideration.

Applying for the PaintBox program is easy! Just follow these steps:

If you have any questions about the technical application process, please reach out to amber.torres@boston.gov with the subject “PaintBox”.

We encourage artists to apply online, and to contact amber.torres@boston.gov if they are having technical difficulties.

If the applicant does not have access to a computer or phone, applications will be made available at Boston City Hall by appointment. Please visit the City’s website to learn about public hours and reach out to us via email to arrange a time to pick up a copy.

Designs that cover the entire utility box and avoid large monochrome areas work best.

We cannot approve any design that includes logos or advertisements of any kind, or anything that looks like directional signage. 

The only text allowed on the box is the artist's signature, website, and the words "City of Boston".

We will identify boxes for artists to paint, but we’d love to know which neighborhood you want to paint in! In your application, you can specify your first and second choice for neighborhood location.

Yes! Artists whose designs are selected will receive a $500 dollar stipend for painting a utility box. Once selected, you will receive $200 to cover the cost of supplies for your project. Upon completion of your utility box, you will submit a photo of your finished design to receive the remainder of the grant money.

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