15 Top Art Competitions That You Should Be Entering
Art competitions can present potentially massive opportunities for artists worldwide, offering wide exposure and substantial cash prizes…
But how do you know which ones you should be entering?
There are many colossal lists and indexes of art contests and awards available online – if you’re willing to go trawling the web!
To save you that trouble, we’ve handpicked some of the very best art competitions around, and detailed the rewards up for grabs in each:
What better place to start than with this highly inclusive and rewarding competition from The Artist’s Magazine?
Open to artists worldwide working in traditional media, this annual contest offers generous prizes for as many as 30 finalists.
As well as this, winners will also have their work published in an issue of the titular magazine, so there’s plenty to recommend this for artists everywhere.
Entry Fee: $15 – $30 Prize: $2,500
Billed as “the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world” the BP Portrait Award offers up rewards to support that claim:
Offering up a whopping £30,000 prize (and another £31,000 to various runners-up), this portraiture prize is not to be missed.
Add to that the chance to have your work exhibited for 3 months at the National Portrait Gallery, and you can see why this competition is so popular!
Entry Fee: £40 Prize: £30,000
Purely judged on the resulting exposure for winners, it’s hard to beat the World Illustration Awards:
Winners of this competition from the Association of Illustrators will see their work toured to roughly 50,000 visitors, and featured in a globally-circulated publication.
To further sweeten the deal there’s a bunch of additional goodies for all category winners, including a year’s free membership to the AOI.
Entry Fee: £25 Prize: Global promotion
Painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, mixed media, and print – all of these mediums are welcome in this competition from Agora Gallery.
The famed New York gallery can offer entrants to this fine art contest international exposure on a grand scale:
On top of a $1,000 monetary award, the competition offers “more than $70,000 in valuable prizes” including exhibitions, profiles, online promotion and more!
The jury panel changes every year, and always features one or two stars of the art world – head over to the site to see the big names involved this year.
Entry Fee: $45 Prize: $1,000 and extensive promotion
This award from Frieze London is most notable for its unique prize:
The winner of the Frieze Artist Award will receive significant funding “to realize a major, site-specific work” at Frieze’s massive international art fair in London.
Open to artists worldwide aged 25-40, proposals will be judged on innovation and achievability – are you up to the challenge?
Entry Fee: Free! Prize: £20,000 production budget
The prizes might be on a much smaller scale, but that doesn’t make this competition any less important…
The Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools offers schoolchildren from nursery to high school the chance to have art exhibited at Scotland’s prestigious National Galleries!
The competition also rewards some lucky participating schools with grants for art materials – a fantastic way of promoting creativity and inspiring some young potential artists.
Entry Fee: Free! Prize: Exhibition
How do you like the idea of your work being exhibited even if you don’t win?
This annual, juried competition from the FSU Museum of Fine Arts offers you just that, as being accepted for entry will see your work displayed in the museum for the duration of contest.
Judged by faculty from the College of Fine Arts, winners will also take home $1,000 and receive a set of colour catalogues featuring their artwork.
Entry Fee: $20 Prize: $1,000
The American Association of University Women runs an absolutely vital competition every year:
The AAUW Annual Art Contest seeks to address the gender gap in the art world and give women artists the equal attention they deserve.
Winning entries will appear on note cards mailed to tens of thousands of AAUW members, as well as being displayed and made available for purchase online.
Entry Fee: Free Prize: Promotion and Sale
ArtPrize is an open art competition and festival, with mammoth prizes, recognised as “the most-attended public art event on the planet”…
This huge annual event in Grand Rapids, Michigan has seen over 2 million visitors, and doled out more than $4million in prizes since its inception in 2009!
With a total of $500,000 worth of prizes on offer (half decided by public vote, half by expert jury), including two giant $200,000 grand prizes and several category awards, this is one event on the art calendar not to be missed.
Entry Fee: $50 Prize: $200,000
Another art contest on a massive scale, this one from Ukraine’s PinchukArtCentre has had submissions from more than 100 countries for it’s huge $100,000 prize!
As the name suggests, the focus here is on up-and-coming artists, so entry is open to anyone up to the age of 35:
Aiming “to make a major contribution to the careers of younger artists”, we’re sure you’ll agree that this incredible award does exactly that!
Entry Fee: £40 Prize: £30,000
Can you imagine being awarded $100,000, without having to pay an entry fee or even complete a piece of art?
Unbelievably, that’s actually the case with the Abraaj Group Art Prize, which rewards and funds proposals for new artwork rather than finished works.
This one-of-a-kind art competition is open to those born in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia – all of whom are sure to be clambering to enter!
Entry Fee: Free! Prize: $100,000
The Luxembourg Art Prize truly lives up to it’s mission statement of helping to boost an artist’s career:
The competition’s €25,000 award goes towards funding further artwork AND an individual gallery exhibition!
With absolutely no restrictions on submissions regardless of age, nationality or experience, there’s really no excuse for not entering this exceptional competition.
Entry Fee: €45 Prize: €25,000
Yet another appealing exhibition which combines prizes with great exposure and sales opportunities:
The NEAC Annual Open Exhibition takes place at London’s Mall Galleries, where entries will be displayed for over a month while the exhibit runs.
With several prizes up for grabs, ranging from £300 to £5000, there’s plenty of opportunity here to take some cash home as well as see your work promoted.
Entry Fee: £15 Prize: £5,000
Now open to fine artists, makers and craftspeople, the John Ruskin Prize is a tantalising prospect for as many as 20 lucky finalists:
Those shortlisted for this UK-based prize will feature in a high profile exhibition at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery.
There’s also a smaller (but still substantial) Student Prize of £1,000 alongside the main award, so why not see if you can squeeze in an entry during your study break?
Entry Fee: £12 Prize: £3,000
Hosted by Aesthetica Magazine, this art prize has a history of helping emerging talents progress their careers.
A variety of previous finalists have gone to experience great success in the art world – and there should be more than enough on offer here to persuade you to emulate them:
£5,000, exhibition, magazine coverage, anthology publication, art supplies and books… this is one art competition that really has it all.
Entry Fee: £24 Prize: £5,000
Art Competition Prep
Feeling as though you might need to refine your skills a little before you start entering art competitions?
We’ve got a number of free resources to help budding artists and designers, so try checking out some of these:
- Our Freelancer’s Guide is designed to help you succeed in the creative industries, with help on brand-building and self-promotion
- How to Take Better Pictures – our free eBook offers a beginners guide to professional photography and manual camera settings
- Our Webinars section hosts a selection of past online masterclasses on topics from portfolio-building to professional development.
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Have we left out any outstanding art competitions? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below!
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