Local high school artists sought for utility box art program

Do you know a local high school student with an artistic side? The city of Federal Way wants them to leave their mark on a slice of the city for generations to come.

Since 2014, the Federal Way Arts Commission’s “Traffic Graffic” program has given residents a chance to express their artistic skills by decorating otherwise mundane features of city property like electrical boxes.

The city has already spruced up more than 35 of those boxes at intersections around the city, and is now looking for students or faculty from Decatur and Todd Beamer high schools to design vinyl wraps for the boxes near their campus.

The program is open to anyone with a family-friendly, bold and bright idea for a design. The winners, selected by the Arts Commission, will earn an $800 stipend for their effort. The program is directed toward students, but the commission is open to submissions from teachers and other faculty, Arts Commission Vice Chair Karen Brugato said.

In 2019, then-Decatur High School student Samantha Mendoza-Rojas designed the “Starry Night” wrap on the utility box located at the corner of 320th Street and 11th Place South.

“It is really rewarding for the students to go back and see their work displayed,” Brugato said. “Every time (Mendoza-Rojas’) family drives by that, they know that was designed by their daughter.”

The theme this time around is spirit — as students continue to return to classrooms from the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission is looking for submissions that show how the artists feel about their high school or school teams, or that just show a “welcome back” attitude.

The program will start with Decatur and Todd Beamer. Students and staff have until Jan. 5 next year to apply, and can find more information at www.cityoffederalway.com/content/Arts-Commission. The commission will evaluate the applications and contact the top artists to guide them through the next steps to getting their art on the boxes.

The final artworks will be rendered as digital images and printed as vinyl wraps on the utility boxes. The Arts Commission plans to move on to the other high schools in town next year, Brugato said.

How to apply

Submit up to three conceptual renderings, like a sketch or illustration, to cassie.swan@cityoffederalway.com. (.png, .jpg and .pdf formats preferred.) Also include a completed application, obtainable on the Arts Commission website under the “Special Decatur and Todd Beamer Traffic Graffic Art Contest” header.