Most art competitions take place in galleries—ArtPrize takes place in one of the nation’s recognized up-and-coming cities.

Most art competitions attract traditional artists—ArtPrize welcomes individuals who use any variety of colors, textures, patterns, and substrates in an artistic way.

Most art competitions are juried by a gallery or a select group of people—ArtPrize entries are judged by the public, bringing a unique and approachable sense of community to the art world.

Long story short—ArtPrize is not like most art competitions.

With over 170 venues, ArtPrize has the exciting challenge of introducing and displaying a beautiful compilation of color and art throughout downtown Grand Rapids. As a proud leadership sponsor, we at X-Rite Pantone are excited to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how this unique event is activated using a mix of color science and technology.

Color With A Purpose

There’s a lot of research around how color impacts our thoughts and moods. Similar to a business’ careful selection of brand color and packaging, ArtPrize recognizes that their annual color palette makes a powerful first impression. The committee enlisted local design firm Conduit Studio to help them harnesses the power of color in clever and interesting ways.

1. For Branding: Conduit Studio and ArtPrize worked together to select a new theme and fresh colors for this year’s event. Infusing these colors into every sign, banner, t-shirt, nametag, and flag is a challenge because all materials react to color in different ways. 

Think how these colors will look on a green shirt vs. a gray sidewalk vs. a white ceramic mug. To keep the colors consistent, the colors of the inks, dyes, paints, and screenprints must be adjusted accordingly.

2. As a Guide: Once again, ArtPrize is using the power of color to guide visitors around the city of Grand Rapids with a color-coded, real-life map. Each Pantone Pathway highlights the character of its respective neighborhood, making it fun and easy to explore both familiar and new parts of the city. 

The Pantone Pathways are now available for explorers!

Bridging the Gap Between Art and Science

As many artists and designers know, choosing inspiration colors is only the beginning. Color matching, replicating, and monitoring colors across multiple materials can be much more of a challenge. Just like businesses who need to accurately reproduce color across products, packaging and advertising, ArtPrize needs to achieve color consistency across their giant canvas of downtown Grand Rapids.

When color is meant to direct visitors, everything—the signs, posters, monoliths, t-shirts, and nametags—must match.

Here’s the problem: Color palettes are not one size fits all, because background is a color, too. When the same inspiration color is applied to different materials—corrugated plastic, vinyl, sidewalk cement, cardboard, canvas, and fabric—it’s not going to match.

Take the Pantone Pathways and Hubs, for example. If the same color is used to print the white corrugated signs, dye the nylon flags, and spray paint the concrete sidewalk for the Pantone Pathways, the result will not be consistent. The background color from the cardboard will mix with the printed color to change it slightly, the fabric color of the flag will mix with the dye to create a unique shade, and the gray from the sidewalk will show through paint to make it appear darker.

The end result? An inconsistent map and confused ArtPrize visitors! Luckily there are resources that can help.

We’re Color Freaks!

Here’s how ArtPrize, X-Rite Pantone, and Conduit Studio worked together to ensure this year’s inspiration colors remain consistent on every surface.

They named them. Communicating color is very difficult. What may be Royal Blue to you could be a completely different color to someone else. This causes problems when the goal is to color-coordinate an entire event with multiple vendors supplying products. Conduit Studio used the Pantone® Color Matching system to ensure each ArtPrize color is properly specified and to set clear expectations for everyone reproducing it.

Here’s the palette for ArtPrize Eight along with each color’s official Pantone Number.

They made adjustments for consistency. The experts at ICON Sign, another Grand Rapids-based company, helped them dial into the exact colors that would ensure their colors remained consistent on any surface. Using a small color measurement device, they tested the colors on each of the materials, compared them to the original inspiration colors, and made adjustments.

They considered the effect of lighting. As the signage and merchandise samples came in, staff compared them under a variety of different lights—outdoor, tungsten, fluorescent, all of the conditions present in the venues of ArtPrize—to ensure that the colors would remain consistent in every venue.

They gave color a personality. If you’re lucky enough to visit ArtPrize Eight, be sure to observe how color truly brings this unique celebration to life. Let it move you to break free from your typical pattern. Who knows what you’ll find!

Learn More about X-Rite Pantone

Color inconsistency is not just a problem for ArtPrize. It is the same issue that just about every company encounters when reproducing their brand colors and manufacturing color-accurate products for sale. If you’d like to learn more about how we work with our customers to help them establish brand identity and get their product colors right, please visit and check out our blog.

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