Verney water tower design competition call to artists

Deadline: Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

Artist Opportunity

The City of Guelph invites professional Guelph-based artists and designers over the age of eighteen to submit qualifications and preliminary designs for a piece of artwork to be incorporated into the repainting of the Verney water tower. The selected design will be chosen through a two-stage application process with three finalists shortlisted by the Public Art Advisory Committee and the final design selected through an online public vote. The winning design will be replicated on the 150–foot water tower near Guelph’s Exhibition Park, creating a unique and prominent landmark for the neighbourhood.

Project background

Image of hand drawn plans for Verney water tower. Shows planned measurements and cut away to interior.

Original schematic of Verney water tower c.196

  • The Verney water tower, built in 1965, is scheduled for painting in spring 2018
  • Water towers in Guelph are painted approximately every 15 years
  • The tower is over 150 feet high, viewable from 360 degrees, and holds over 4.5 million litres of water—almost enough water to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools
  • A contractor will perform maintenance on the tower including sandblast cleaning, repainting of the supports, and a base coat on the tower itself
  • This call is for a preliminary design only; the application and the reproduction of the winning design will be completed by a specialized crew

Design specifications

  • The design must be limited to five solid colours without shading or black outlines
  • Because the design will be reproduced on a large scale, it must not be overly complex and must be simple enough to be visible from a distance
  • The design will be limited to the curved section of the tank’s bowl
  • Dimensions of the design should not exceed 2.75m (9ft) high and 13.4m (44ft) wide and can be either full coverage or minimal in nature

Design content

The design must:

  • be original (clarification: original art means artwork/design originally done by the artist/designer, it need not be new art developed for the competition; existing work may be repurposed);
  • be non-commercial in nature;
  • be suitable and acceptable for viewing by the public of all ages;
  • reflect the local community; and
  • visually enhance the area.

Selection process

This competition follows a two-stage application process based on the Canadian Artists Representation’s guidelines for organizing art competitions.

Stage One:

  • The City’s Council-appointed Public Art Advisory Committee will review all enties and narrow the list to three finalists.
  • Entries will be reviewed based on the merit of the entrant’s past work, professional qualifications and experience, their design statement, and preliminary designs.
  • Preliminary designs will be reviewed and scored based on quality, creativity, technical feasibility, relevance to Guelph, and compliance with the required design specifications and content.

Stage Two:

  • The three shortlisted finalists will be asked to develop their preliminary design concepts based on detailed artwork specifications.
  • An honorarium of $250 will be paid to each finalist upon completion of the design.
  • The winning design will be decided by an online community vote.
  • The grand prize winner will receive an additional award of $750 for their design.


  • Competition opens: September 12, 2017
  • Entry submission deadline: October 8, 2017
  • Shortlisted finalists invited to develop their designs: October 19, 2017
  • Stage two entries due: November 3, 2017
  • Finalists announced; online voting begins: November 6, 2017
  • Online voting closes: November 19, 2017
  • Winner announced: late November 2017
  • Winning design applied to the water tower: Spring-summer 2018

This timeline is subject to change. The City reserves the right to modify these dates as needed.

How to enter

There is no cost to enter the design competition and no purchase is necessary. The deadline for entry is Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

All entries should be emailed to and contain the following in a single PDF document (5MB maximum):

  1. Entry form [fillable PDF 547kb]
  2. Design statement (250-500 words)
  3. Up to three full-colour, preliminary design sketches or renderings
  4. Current resume and three to five digital images of past work

Please read the full call to artists as provided above, and design competition rules to ensure your entry complies with entry requirements.

View and download the full Call to Artists, Competition Rules and Entry form [PDF 119kb]

For more information

Jen Rafter, Cultural Program and Event Coordinator
Culture, Tourism and Community Investment, Public Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2629