Last Thursday at Toronto’s Great Hall, 16 young artists participated in Art Battle 34.
The live-painting contest gave them a chance not only to introduce themselves to Toronto art lovers, but also to create and sell new work.
Craig Skinner, who graduated this April from the Ontario College of Art and Design’s (OCAD) Drawing and Painting program, was competing in his first Art Battle.
He said after graduating many of his friends felt the need to focus on career building, to the extent that they were unable to focus on developing their craft.
“They’re doing all these shows … showing older work. They’re not making a lot of new work,” he said. “And it kind of seems like a reaction to just being really scared of being out of art school.”
At Art Battle 34, Skinner and the other competitors were asked to produce the best acrylic paintings they could in 20 minutes, without resorting to the use of references or mechanical tools.
The audience voted Skinner to the final four, but fellow Art Battle first-timer and current OCAD student, Junwang “JW” Pang ultimately beat him out for the top prize. Perhaps more importantly, Skinner sold both paintings he made at Art Battle in the silent auction later that night.
Art Battle was conceived in 2009 by artist Chris Pemberton and digital strategist Simon Plashkes, both who believe that not all art is created equal and that the best art is made with a combination of skill and hard work.
“What I find, art battle after art battle, is that the best painter usually wins regardless of how much time they have,” Pemberton said. “Because it’s just all about training and all about art. One thing we like to say is that great paintings at Art Battle are made in 10 years and 20 minutes.”
Skinner echoed Pemberton’s sentiments and said he plans on improving his skills with acrylic paint, which is not a medium he regularly paints in.
“Chris said he wants to have me again in the future, so I’m totally going to practice for this and definitely be back,” he said.