city_hall

Official websites use .boston.gov

A .boston.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.

lock

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Global Technology Outage
/
City of Boston services may be impacted by a global technology service outage. We encourage residents to call ahead before attempting to access services at municipal buildings. We will provide additional updates as they become available.
Last updated:

PaintBox

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

The PaintBox program aims to beautify Boston's neighborhoods, introduce residents to the artists that live among them, and provide an opportunity for artists looking to enter the field of public art. Selected artists will paint the utility boxes with their original designs.
The PaintBox program is a collaboration between the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, the Boston Transportation Department, and Public Works.

About the Program

The program

The goal of the PaintBox program, first launched in 2008, is to beautify Boston's neighborhoods, introduce residents to the artists that live among them, and provide an opportunity for artists looking to enter the field of public art.

As the City continues to make big investments in public art, PaintBox contributes to the vitality of Boston's public art landscape in a small but impactful way and reflects the diverse people, ideas, histories, and futures of everyday Bostonians. 

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

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

PaintBox artists are required to register as a vendor with the City of Boston (or provide an existing vendor ID number).

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
  • Paintbox Design: Artists may use the PaintBox template. Artists must agree that the Paintbox can be painted over at any time by the City of Boston.
  • Statement of Interest and Initial Project Concept (500 words or less): This statement should include the initial artistic concept for this site as well as why you are interested in this opportunity. Include your connection to the site and/or neighborhood, and any specific or unique processes you might use for the project.

  • Artist Description: A few sentences that describe your artistic style, including the themes and materials that you explore in your artwork. You may also add your bio, resume, CV, or other documents that describe your background and experience.
  • Relevant Work Samples: Up to ten images of completed past work that you feel is relevant to this site. One image per file; jpg, tiff, or MP4 file types; limit videos to two minutes or less.
  • Work Sample Descriptions: An Annotated image list with title, media, dimensions, location, date, brief description, your role in the project (lead, assistant, etc.) and any other information that might be relevant.
Stay tuned for the 2025 PaintBox application.
The Criteria
  • We want submissions from artists that have a strong, original, artistic vision
  • You have to live, work, or organize in Boston
  • You have to be at least 18 years of age
  • You can only submit one design
  • You should show consideration of the neighborhood, site, and theme.
  • Designs should discreetly incorporate the artist's signature and the text "City of Boston”
  • Designs should cover the entire utility box, except for hinges and locks
  • Your design should align with the City of Boston's Curatorial Vision.
  • 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.
  • Designs may not incorporate text.
  • We may reject submissions that contain images of other artists’ works without credit or identification of their role.

PaintBox Map

Frequently asked questions

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.

Back to top