Like the 'Verzuz' of Illustration Battles, 'Secret Walls' Brings Local Artists to the Big Stage

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Hundreds of the country’s best street artists and muralists are hitting the road this summer for the first-ever “Support Your Local Artist” tour. The “Verzuz”-style battle pits two teams of artists against each other — and the clock — as they work to create an original, full-scale piece of art in front of a live audience.

The Support Your Local Artist Tour (SYLA) kicked off this past weekend in LA and will run through 35 cities across the U.S., with stops in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada as well. Produced by the LA-based arts and entertainment brand, Secret Walls, the tour will also feature surprise musical performances, DJs, limited-edition merch and more.

The rundown for each event is simple: artists are divided randomly into teams and given markers, paint brushes, spray paint, and paint rollers, in addition to a giant canvas (oftentimes a large wall). The judges reveal the surprise theme or concept for the piece and the teams have exactly 90 minutes to ideate and finish their artwork. The judges — and a decibel meter measuring audience reaction — help to determine the winner of each battle.

Artists taking part in the tour include The Obanoth, Allison Bamcat, LAmour Supreme, Greg Mike, Matt Gondek, Ally Grimm, Sentrock and Woes, with talent spanning genres as diverse as graffiti art, animation, oil painting and sketching, among others.

Secret Walls will also be hosting its “Secret Walls Academy” workshops in select cities, giving attendees a chance to bone up on their illustration techniques while learning about the history and impact of art on pop culture.

Secret Walls founder Terry Guy says this was the perfect time to launch a full-scale tour, having pioneered the live illustration battle phenomenon more than 15 years ago. “We started Secret Walls in 2006 with a mission to support local artists. Over the years we’ve produced over 2,000 battles in more than 50 countries and thanks to our supporters, Secret Walls has grown to become the world’s premier live paint and pixel battle platform,” Guys says, in a press release. “We’re extremely excited to present the SYLA Tour providing artists a unique platform – for themselves and their communities – to gather, celebrate and be inspired.”

Previous Secret Walls events have attracted the likes of Vince Staples, pro skater Paul Rodriguez and soccer legend Thierry Henry. Swizz Beatz and Justin Bieber are also fans of the brand (Bieber was spotted wearing an LA Lakers hat collab from Secret Walls and the artist OG Slick).

Tickets to the Secret Walls Support Your Local Artist Tour are on sale now at General Admission tickets are $25 with limited VIP Admission available for $99, which includes early entry, limited-edition merchandise, and a meet-and-greet with the artists. You can also head to the Secret Walls website for a full rundown of participating artists and tour dates.

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