By Molly Oleson

First published Dec. 14, 2013

As many of our readers know, we recently launched an unofficial contest to turn the tech shuttle buses into art.

Why?  I saw a lot of empty canvas space and thought it might be a way to bring together the art and tech communities.

Why Only $500?  The $500 was a gesture – prize money for anyone willing to take the time to submit an entry to an unofficial contest with no promise of a commission.  A few people have mentioned wanting to add to the prize money. Checks can be sent to Mission Local, 2588 Mission Sts. 212, San Francisco, 94110. Please indicate that it is for the prize money and not a regular donation. You could also do this through our Donate Now Button and indicate that you want the donation dedicated to the prize. We will announce any increase in the prize money.

Deadline?  December 31, 2013 for our first round of submissions.  Send to

What about Genentech?  They will be selecting their own winner – it could be the same one we select to receive our $500 prize money or it could be a different entry.

Regardless, Genentech’s financial arrangement with the artist is separate from our prize money.

Other Tech Companies?  We hope that others will select from the entries.  If they do, they too will make their own payment arrangements with the artists. 

Conflict of Interest?   This has no impact on our editorial coverage. We’ve covered and will continue to cover the debate around the tech buses. We’ve probably done more reporting than any local news site and publication – local or otherwise. We get flack from those who hate the buses and those who ride the buses. So be it.

Lydia Chávez

I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born...

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  1. Thanks for the additional information and clarifications.

    This contest is a great idea and I feel sure that Mission dwellers will rally around this in the interests of art and forging a spirit of tolerance and community.

    Good luck to all entrants, and I look forward to seeing the best designs on a street near me soon.

    1. Adorning such a contentious object with local art seems like overkill at the moment, a bit insensitive. For many people living here, and commenting on ML, it’s like painting doves on Gestapo helmets. Though I appreciate many of the ironic or confrontational decorative suggestions – case in point.

      Tech buses should have ads (public service?) and the process donated back to the community. Plenty of needs abound …

      Or we could paint all of them with portraits of Mayor Lee and Superivisor Chiu.

  2. Ah, this makes a lot more sense!

    Thanks for clarifying that the prize money is just for coming up with the idea and not for the actual implementation. I commented that the $500 dollars was an insulting amount to offer an artist at the time, but I now see I was under the mistaken impression that the compensation was to be offered for both the proposal and the painting.

    You may want to require that entries at least include a pencil sketch or mockup though. A lot of the entries you’ve received so far seem to be from children (or in the last case, a provocateur), and I’d think you’d want to judge this contest as much on artistic ability and the probability of proficient execution as much as concept.

    1. Lydia had clarified that in a comment to the previous article on the contest. The winning artist has the chance of a paid commission which might bring in more funds.

      1. I saw Lydia’s clarification, and I appreciated it, but I also appreciate this clarification that goes much more in depth and answers _all_ the questions that were brought up in a clear and concise way.

  3. Also, if I understand this correctly, I could enter this contest while still reserving my right to refuse to paint Genentech’s bus (say if they didn’t offer sufficient compensation or something), correct?

    1. You’d have to read the terms of any such contest. You may lose your rights to the work when you submit it. That would mean that you’d still get paid, but that it would no longer be your property.

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