The Mayor’s Office invites Boston area artists to make art out of overlooked urban forms. Submit your design idea for City utility boxes!


The PaintBox program, organized by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, is geared towards the recognition and celebration of local artists. Artists paint City of Boston utility boxes with original designs. Once professionally painted, these utility boxes in neighborhood business districts will contribute to the vitality and attractiveness of the urban streetscape and deter graffiti.


● Up to three (3) designs by each Boston artist will be considered at a time. The PaintBox design template can be downloaded here
● Selections will be made by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture.
● Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
● Artists will be notified if and when their designs are selected.


Artists must be at least 18 years of age.


● You must submit a specific location. We encourage artists to select boxes in neighborhoods underserved with public art and boxes that are in need of aesthetic improvement. PaintBox projects proposed for some historic districts may not be approved.
● Artists must avoid dark palettes in order to prevent boxes from overheating in the sun.
● Artists must supply their own materials, tools, and water while painting.
● The utility boxes must be scraped, cleaned and primed (with automobile spray primer) before painting. Please tape over functional areas– hinges, vents, locks, meters, keyholes, and any cautionary text – as the operational use of the boxes cannot be obstructed by paint.
● Artists are responsible for protecting their work from the elements and possible vandalism by using durable materials and a protective varnish and coating of wax. As you develop your designs, please keep in mind that large, empty monochrome areas do not help to discourage vandalism.
● The area around the box must be maintained at all times, including passage on the sidewalk for pedestrians and unobstructed traffic lanes, as well as protecting the area from drips, etc. A dropcloth must be used while priming and painting.
● Please subtly incorporate the text 'Sponsored by the City of Boston' into your design.


Participating Boston artists may receive a $300 stipend from the City of Boston upon completion of their box. Artists are responsible for the cost of all materials required to complete and protect their artwork. In order to receive payment, artists must submit the following:

● A photo of the electric utility meter number (if visible) – this is part of a collaboration with the Environment Department to promote energy efficiency through improved tracking for our street lights and traffic lights.
● Photos of the completed PaintBox
●A City of Boston vendor ID number

Visit to see examples of PaintBoxes in the city. Please click here to view and download the PaintBox design template.

Please contact with any questions.

Artist Certification Guidelines

What is an Artist Certificate? 

An Artist Certificate is a letter from Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (formerly BRA) to an artist. The letter confirms that the artist has been reviewed by a committee of peers and is “certified” as a working artist. An Artist Certificate qualifies an artist as eligible for artist spaces for a period of eight years. Upon expiration, the artist will need to renew their certification.

Who is eligible for an Artist Certificate?

Applicants must able to demonstrate that they have a recent body of work and must be at least 18 years of age. Artists in the following disciplines are considered:

  • Visual Arts: including painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, conceptual art, ceramics, woodworking, architecture/design, media arts, film, and new media.
  • Performing Arts: including dance, theater, and music.
  • Literary Arts: including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and spoken word.
  • Multidisciplinary Art

Who reviews the applications?

A Peer Review Panel selected from a pool of Boston artists and arts professionals reviews applications on a quarterly basis.

The decision of the panel is final. If an applicant is not certified during this round, they can request feedback on how to improve their application and reapply in a future round. 

Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria.

  • Evidence of a recent body of work, demonstrated by an artist resume or CV that lists dates and locations of exhibitions, publications, performances, or press. 

  • Documentation of artwork including image files, video clips, and writing samples.

  • Recommendations and letters of support from peers and professionals in the arts.

What is Automatic Certification?

Automatic certification is granted to artists who have received any of the following awards in the last 3 years: the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, The Boston Foundation Brother Thomas Fellowship, the Boston Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, or the City of Boston Emerging Artist Award.

To receive automatic certification, please fill out your name and contact information in the Artist Certification application and upload your fellowship letter in the Work Samples section.