The Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation wants your artwork on TAP cards for public transit

Picture your design here: LADOT hosts a TAP card competition. Participants can submit up to three different designs with a
Picture your design here: LADOT hosts a TAP card competition. Participants can submit up to three different designs with a "Downtown Los Angeles" theme.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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Next time you buy a TAP card to ride the bus or catch a train, you may be staring at an original design created by a fellow Angeleno.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) and the Downtown Los Angeles’ Gallery Row Organization are hosting a competition that is soliciting designs for a new special edition TAP card. These reusable cards are used to ride public transit across the city, and officials say the selected designs will be printed on up to 20,000 of the cards.

The LADOT TAP Card Design Competition is an incredible opportunity for local artists to get creative, and be recognized in a very big way by having their designs in the hands of thousands of LADOT riders,” said Nic Cha Kim, one of the founders of the arts organization, in a statement.

The theme of the contest is "Downtown Los Angeles" – think Arts District murals, picturesque bridges or your favorite building. Participants can submit up to three different designs and have until December 18 to do so. The competition is open to artists, designers – or anyone with a creative streak – who is at least 18-years-old and lives or works in L.A. 

The entry process is pretty simple: Fill out the form with your basic information, send in your design that incorporates the LADOT and TAP logo, and make sure to use "brand colors." Then write a 100-word explanation of your design and how it reflects Downtown L.A.

"We wanted a theme that focused on the city of Los Angeles," said Kari Derderian of LADOT. "What we hope to get out of it is the continued distribution of the card."

While the LADOT is hoping to increase public awareness of the TAP card program, the lucky contest winners will get $500 and a $500 gift certificate to an art supply store in Downtown. The two winning designs will be chosen by a jury of five people.

Derderian said TAP cards are currently programmed to last three years and the new cards could function for up to 10 years.

Earlier this year, LADOT released four special edition TAP cards that featured graphic, colorful designs that reflected the city. Derderian said some people like to collect them, and making the cards more attractive may entice consumers.

"Sometimes tourists like to purchase them when they're here and then take them with them when they leave," he said.

Contest winners will be announced in mid-January.