Helping to bring graffiti artists out of the shadows, Sean Bono started Art Battles in NYC’s Lower East Side. A live graffiti competition, the event retains the street’s sense of urgency by limiting the time allotted to sketch. No take-back strokes or do-over drawings. But in the end, this doesn’t get painted over – it gets sold to the highest bidder.

The live audience thrives on contestants’ improvisation, last minute changes and quick bravado. Much like the DJ Battles of the early ‘90s, the pressure to perform is tangible. Staged spontaneity requires not just talent, but showmanship. This graffiti-without-penalty builds upon common street art with its ingenuity. Not to mention, the law-abiding contestants charm the audience with their poise and focus.

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