Utility Box Artwork



The City of DeKalb and Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission (CCEC) are accepting proposals from DeKalb community members to create utility box artwork that sends a welcoming message to residents and visitors and conveys the theme of belonging.


This call is open to residents, current and former students and faculty of Northern Illinois University, Kishwaukee College and the DeKalb School District, employees of DeKalb businesses or any outside artist. Submissions by both novice and professional artists will be accepted.

Project Description

This project seeks to turn three downtown utility boxes into vibrant works of art and is part of a public arts initiative by the City and CCEC to enhance the aesthetics of DeKalb, promote civic pride, highlight the community’s diversity and promote a spirit of belonging.

Applicants should create designs in digital format, which will be printed on vinyl and wrapped around the utility boxes by a third-party fabricator. Up to three artists will be chosen. 


The applicant shall submit a full color design in digital format on one of three utility box templates.

Proposals will be evaluated based on:

  • Incorporation of a welcoming theme conveying a sense of belonging,
  • the artistic excellence, vibrancy and originality of the artist and
  • the appropriateness of the design for its site in the DeKalb community.

Proposals must be the artist’s own work and must not violate any copyright restrictions. Designs should not include inappropriate words, adult images, advertisements, political messages, or religious themes.

Submission Process

All proposals must be submitted via the online application form linked here.

There is no submission fee. Applicants must be 18 or older or have parent or a legal guardian apply.

All correspondence and contracts are part of the public record. By submitting materials, you are (1) consenting to the release of those materials by the City in response to requests under the Public Records Act and (2) agreeing to indemnify and hold harmless the City for release of such information.

Selection Process

The CCEC and City staff will review applications for completeness and eligibility. The CCEC will recommend the designs for installation.

Project Logistics

The City and CCEC have identified three downtown utility boxes in highly-visible locations for this project. They are located at:

Lincoln Highway & Fourth Street (Next to McCabe's)
A silver utility box next to the former McCabe's building

Lincoln Highway & Third Street
A silver utility box with downtown building in the background

East Locust Street (Next to Van Buer Plaza entrance)
A brown utility box in front of bushes

After selecting a utility box to design, download the template for that utility box below. The completed template should be submitted through the online application form.

Applicants who design a vinyl wrap will be required to submit a vector file or a high-resolution digital file and may be required to make revisions if their design is selected for fabrication.


Submissions must be received no later than 11:59 PM (CST) on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

Artist Incentive

A $150 artist incentive will be provided for each of the three approved utility box designs. The incentive will serve as compensation for the artists’ work and talent. Please note, the incentives will be provided to the artists whose designs are selected by the City for fabrication into vinyl wraps, and not for each submitted design. The incentive is paid after the utility box artwork design is completed to the satisfaction of the City and the vinyl wrap is installed. The incentives will be funded with a T-Mobile Hometown Grant awarded to the City for public art.

Production & Supply Expenses

The City will cover the expenses of producing and installing the vinyl wraps. These expenses will be also be funded with the T-Mobile Hometown Grant.


  • The City reserves the right to terminate the program as a whole or as it applies to any individual utility box project at any time, in the City’s sole discretion, and to return any utility box to a condition the City shall determine necessary or appropriate. 
  • Selected artists will be required to complete and sign a contract for utility box artwork, release and waiver of liability, assumption of risk and indemnity agreement.

Point of contact

Scott Zak
City of DeKalb (IL)
Management Analyst
Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission Liaison
(815) 748-2396