This week, sixteen local artists faced off at Art Battle's 15th Anniversary event in SoHo. Art Battle is a live art competition that holds events all over the world, with multiple events in New York City. Since their first New York City show in 2001, the group's events have been a staple for New Yorkers interested in both street art and live performance.
Surrounded by walls covered in murals by previous Art Battle champs Cern, MDOT, and Andre Trenier, artists were split into two eight-person rounds and had 20 minutes to create their best work on a blank canvas. Audience members voted on their favorites from each bout, and the top two from each round moved on to a final round, with a thirty minute time limit and a bigger canvas.
The night served as Brooklyn-based artist and graphic designer Scott Walker's first Art Battle. "It was a really awesome evening. The event had an awesome atmosphere, good crowd, good mix of people," Walker said. "I really enjoyed the energy that came from the crowd while I worked."
"A lot of the time you go to bars and sort of drink and socialize but if you want to have something cool going on, live art is it," he continued. "It's always something special in New York City, with a huge amount of diversity represented in the artwork and culture."
By closing time, Aída Miró was crowned champion, taking home $1000 and a slot to compete at the US National Art Battle tournament. Pieces made during the first two rounds were auctioned off at the end of the night.
Liz Botti, a first time Art Battle audience member, said the experience was worth it. "I'm not an artsy person, but it was really chill and the tickets were cheap. It's worth it just for the experience. When else do you get to see people reduce their profession to twenty minutes and see them produce something that sold for $400? Seeing the process of it all was my favorite part. You saw them change their mind with 20 seconds left."
Click through for a look inside Thurday night's battle. The next one will be held on January 25th at (Le) Possion Rouge, and information about future events can be found on artbattle.com.
Chris Jones is a photojournalist based in New York City.