Organization continues featuring artists on Charlotte area billboards despite pandemic


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Pieces of art are showing up in places normally designed for advertisements around the Charlotte area. The goal of the project is to give artists the exposure they need to allow art to become a sustainable lifestyle.

A giant cat with green eyes is staring at drivers heading into uptown using I-277. The painting is on a billboard near Graham Street and is part of the ArtPop Street Gallery.

“I have been following ArtPop for years and it was always just that dream opportunity,” said artist, Sara Simmons, whose painting is the one featured on the Graham Street billboard.

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Every year 20 artists in the Greater Charlotte region get their chance on a billboard and other advertising spaces, like newspaper boxes in Uptown.

“The exposure is just insane. Every artist wants their art to be seen and it’s on billboards that are massive so it’s really exciting,” said artist, Tim Petrinec.

Before the art is posted and plastered up, artists apply and judges determine who gets a shot.

“I did cry actually. It meant so much to me because it gave me so much courage to be able to apply to a lot more art opportunities,” said artist, Ella Mackinson, who is just 21-years-old.

So far 150 artists in the Charlotte area have been featured since 2014. The ad space is offered free of charge by billboard companies. $6 million is shared among the 20 artists which help bring their pieces to life.

“I have been in the billboard industry for 20 years and love art and love supporting local artists and one of the things local artists would always share with me is they weren’t sure how to market themselves,” said Executive Director of ArtPop Street Gallery, Wendy Hickey.

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The program has proven successful, sometimes in only a matter of days.

“I have been selling more prints and I have had people reaching out about originals or commissions so it has created a lot more energy and a lot more pulse,” said Petrinec.

Aside from helping artists themselves, the pieces help make the Queen City unique. “One woman even told me, thank you for making the city more beautiful and it’s moments like that, that means the world to me,” said Simmons.

The currently selected pieces of art for 2020 will move around to different billboards until the end of the year. They are also spread out across the 13 counties that surround the Charlotte area.

Starting on September 13, submissions will open for the 2021 ArtPop class of artists. Those interested in applying can learn more here.

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