The Best Art Contests And Art Competitions For 2018/2019

Art competitions offer artists publicity and some serious prize money. Here are the best art contests and prizes you can apply for in 2018/2019!

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This article has been updated with all the latest art contest information for 2018/2019. Check the contest websites for the most up-to-date submission deadlines!

Starving artists, rejoice! There’s tons of art contests and art competitions out there that can net you a pretty penny—and win you a whole bunch of publicity and acclaim to boot.

We’ve rounded up our favorite art contests, art competitions, painting competitions, digital art contests, and painting contests for 2018/2019. Let’s check them out!

But First…

Before you start applying to these art competitions, you should make sure you have a great online art portfolio. If you choose the right website builder, it won’t take much time, and then you’ll have a perfect place to show off your work to judges and judging panels.

If you gain some attention by winning an art contest, you’ll want to take advantage of that as soon as possible. Art competitions typically give the winners a ton of promotion. Folks who have seen your winning artwork will then head to your site, so you should make the most of it!

First, fill out the About Me page of your portfolio so visitors can learn a little about the artist behind the work. Include your artist statement (Want to share more of your artist’s journey? Consider starting a blog, which can help further establish you as a talent to watch!)

Also, set up an online store as part of your portfolio so you don’t miss out on possible sales following a contest win.

Once you’ve got that taken care of, you’re ready to start applying. Without further ado, here are the best art contests and prizes for 2018/2019!

Painting Competitions


2018 Painter, Poppy Balser

Paint Annapolis Plein Air Competition

Prize: $15,000.

Entry Fee: $35.

Eligibility Requirements: None.

What You Need To Know:

Paint Annapolis is a five-day juried plein air painting competition. It takes place outside in Maryland’s sunny capital city Annapolis, and its aim is to bring painters together from around the world to paint outside in the fresh air while getting to know each other and sharing their work. The event prompts applicants to explore the colonial architecture, marine vibes, and overall energy of Maryland’s capital city (it was once the capital of the United States!). The paintings created are put on display in Annapolis for a week-long exhibition.


2015 Winner, Matan Ben Cnaan

BP Portrait Award

Prize: £35,000 first prize, and a total prize fund of £74,000.

Entry Fee: None.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to everyone age 18 and over.

What You Need To Know:

The Portrait Award is in its 40th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 30th year of sponsorship by BP. The award prides itself on being the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world and is intended to foster portraiture in artists’ work around the world. This art contest offers the chance to have your work displayed at the world-famous National Portrait Gallery, an experience many artists only dream of.

Submissions must be predominantly painted in oil, tempera, or acrylic on canvas or board. Requirements are strict: no pastels, watercolors, or works on paper are considered for this award. Artists can submit only one entry, but submissions are open to everyone over 18 years of age.

If you want to brush up on you canvas-stretching skills before you get painting, take a peek at this step-by-step guide on how to stretch canvas.

New American Paintings

Prize: A four-page full-color spread in New American Paintings.

Entry Fee: $50.

Eligibility Requirements: Only open to artists in the United States.

What You Need To Know:

New American Paintings is a periodical magazine that is described as a “juried exhibition-in-print.” The publication holds six painting competitions per year to choose 40 artists who will have their paintings published in the magazine. Thousands of artists submit their paintings in the competitions every year. The New American Paintings jury carefully selects artists whose work, they believe, deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Digital Art Contests

CGTrader Digital Art Competition

Prize: A variety of prizes valued at over $60,000.

Entry Fee: None.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to CG artists worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

This digital art contest calls for all computer graphics artists (both 2D and 3D) to submit their best works of art. There are six different categories for submissions: character illustration, environment illustration, object design, character concept art, environmental concept art, and object concept design.

The winners in each category receive a variety of prizes such as a GT-221 PRO Pen Tablet Monitor valued at $1,150, plus a range of graphic software licenses. Participants can submit up to six entries.

The contest is held by CGTrader, a marketplace for 3D models used for computer graphics, games, and virtual reality. Entering the contest gives you the chance to have your work exposed to CGTrader’s community of 1.2 million users.


2018 Winner, Mario Klingemann

The Lumen Prize for Digital Art

Prize: $4,000 first prize, with a $11,000 total prize fund.

Entry Fee: $50 for two works, $25 for each additional work.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

This contest focuses on art that engages with technology in some form. Other than that, the rules about what can be submitted are wide open. The contest page says artists can use any kind of equipment, and they should get in touch if there are questions about whether their work suits the competition.

There are separate awards for various categories such as still image, moving image, interactive, and virtual or augmented reality. This digital art contest is organized by Lumen Art Projects Ltd, a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to providing new opportunities for digital artists around the world.

Since the guidelines are so wide-open, if you’re looking for some ideas, check out this article on five digital artists who are finding new ways to create art using technology.

animago AWARD

Prize: €3,000.

Entry Fee: None.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists, studios, and production companies worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

This Germany-based digital art contest seeks to recognize creativity and innovation in digital art. The contest was started in 1997 and it is organized by Digital Production magazine.

It accepts entries in many categories including virtual reality, still, 3D animation, visual effects, advertising production, and CG character. Participation is free and you can submit as many pieces as you want.

Free Art Contests

NordArt International Exhibition of Visual Arts

Prize: €10,000 first prize.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artist worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

The NordArt exhibition acts as a forum for cultural education and exchange. Its goal is to enhance mutual understanding through the language of art. It involves an annual art contest where works are selected to be displayed at NordArt, one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art in Europe.

Judges will select one artist to win the NordArt Prize of €10,000. Visitors to the exhibition can also vote for the Public Choice Award, which results in three artists winning €1,000 each.

The exhibition takes place in Büdelsdorf, Germany, at a historic iron foundry. The mix of contemporary art and industrial architecture give this exhibition a very chic atmosphere.


2017 Winner, Dineo Seshee Bopape

Future Generation Art Prize

Prize: Top prize of $60,000, plus a $40,000 investment in the winning artist’s practice.

Eligibility Requirements: Artists must between 18 and 35 years of age.

What You Need To Know:

Many free art competitions have less substantial prizes. But the Future Generation Art Prize is a big exception. This biannual free art contest aims to discover, recognize, and support the next generation of artists. To that end, one lucky winner is given a $60,000 cash prize and $40,000 to invest in the production of new work. In addition to the huge grand prize, another $20,000 total is awarded to up to five artists, at the discretion of the jury.

All works of art, regardless of category or media are eligible. The art competition wraps up with an exhibition to show off the work of up to 20 artists at the PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv, Ukraine. This art competition was created by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, a philanthropic organization with the goal of empowering young people to change the world.


2017 Honorable Mention, Cheryl Miller

Art for Animals

Prize: Have your artwork appear in NAVS’ print and online publications, greeting cards, and social media. There are also unspecified cash prizes.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists of all ages and skill levels.

What You Need To Know:

This art contest was created by NAVS (National Anti-Vivisection Society), an organization that works to end harmful experimentation on animals. For this competition, artists are tasked with creating images that will inspire others to be more compassionate to all animals.

The contest guidelines encourage participants to get creative, whether it’s paying tribute to an animal in your life or just appreciating creatures in the world around you. This competition is an opportunity to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. Submissions can include digital artwork, paintings, illustrations, or photographs.

If you’re looking for more opportunities to create art featuring animals, check out our guide to ethical wildlife photography.

Art Contests for Students

Progressive Young Artists Awards

Prize: Three $1,000 scholarships.

Entry Fee: $5.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to high school and college students worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

This art contest for students focuses on celebrating progressive values. It encourages entrants to submit work relating to topics such as LGBTQ and gender rights and sustainability. The competition accepts work in five different categories: painting, drawing, photography, mixed media, and sculpture.

If you’re hoping to win one of the scholarship awards to put towards art school, you might want to take a look at this list of the best art schools in the world to help find the right one for you. And when you’re getting ready to apply, check out this guide to creating an art portfolio for school.


2018 Runner-Up, Fang-Hsuan Shen

SpaceTime Student Poster Competition & Exhibition

Prize: The chance to exhibit your work internationally, and free registration for the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles.

Entry Fee: None.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to high school and college students worldwide. Entries must be computer-based media.

What You Need To Know:

This digital art contest is organized by the ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee, which is a special-interest group that works to support educators in computer graphics and interactive techniques. The art competition asks students to submit posters based on the theme of the SIGGRAPH conference (the 2019 theme, for example, is “thrive”). The conference brings together global innovators who are making advancements in computer graphics, animation, VR, gaming, and emerging technologies.

Entries are judged based on the theme, artistic merit, design, originality, technical excellence, and content. The art contest’s guidelines suggest that the posters should have minimal text. Participants are also asked to provide an artist statement and technical statement along with their entry.

General Art Contests


2018 Winner, Alex Baczynski-Jenkins

Frieze Artist Award

Prize: $30,000 for project production.

Entry Fee: None.

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants need to either have completed a degree in an art-related subject, or have at least three years of professional experience as an artist.

What You Need To Know:

The Frieze Artist Award is a major opportunity to present ambitious, site-specific work. Artists are invited to propose a new work to be realized at the annual Frieze art fair as part of its critically acclaimed Frieze Projects program, produced under the guidance of the Frieze Projects team. If chosen, you get $30,000 to create that project.


2017 Winner, Ali Anvari

Tallahassee International Juried Competition

Prize: $500 to $1000.

Entry Fee: $20 for two works.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to all artists worldwide over 18 years of age.

What You Need To Know:

The great part about the Tallahassee International Juried Competition is that all art mediums are eligible! This international art competition is organized by the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts and juried by faculty from the College of Fine Arts.

Chelsea International Fine Art Competition

Prize: $70,000 total.

Entry Fee: $45.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to visual artists from around the world at any stage of their careers.

What You Need To Know:

Hosted by NYC’s Agora Gallery, the Chelsea International Fine Art Competition is an opportunity to gain exposure for your work plus prize money. Artists are invited to submit in any of the following mediums: painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, mixed media, and print.

The Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition

Prize: Five first-place awards of $2,500, and $24,000 total in cash prizes.

Entry Fee: $40.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists anywhere in the world working in traditional media.

What You Need To Know:

The Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition awards are open to artists anywhere in the world working in traditional media. Only 2D original artwork conceived and created by the entrant will be considered, meaning mixed media cannot exceed an inch in depth.


2018 Jurors’ Grand Prize Winner, Le’Andra LeSeur


Prize: $500,000 total in cash prizes, including two grand prizes of $200,000.

Entry Fee: $50 for individuals, $100 for groups.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists worldwide over the age of 18, working in any medium.

What You Need To Know:

This is the largest art competition in the world! Despite offering huge sums of money to artists working at all levels, however, ArtPrize endures more criticism than any other art competition in the world. Some critics have claimed the festival fails to produce outstanding work, and brings undeserved prestige to Grand Rapids. (Ouch!) Supporters, however, have credited ArtPrize as being a cultural phenomenon that removes some of the longstanding elitism from the world of fine art.


2018 Third Place Winner, Sergei Orgunov

10th Annual Nature & Wildlife Exhibition

Prize: $2,000 Best in Show award, $5,000 total in awards.

Entry Fee: $45 for up to three works.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

The Annual Nature & Wildlife Exhibition is part of the St. Augustine Art Association, a non-profit member art organization in the heart of the Historic District in St. Augustine, Florida. The Art Association is the epicenter of the local art community, and proceeds from this exhibition are reinvested into the community through various art programs, activities, and outreach. The awards celebrate the best in fine art, focusing on nature and wildlife.

All mediums are welcome, but submissions must be original 2D or 3D artwork and created in past three years. Work should avoid references to hunting or taxidermy, and human elements should not be present.

The Sunny Art Prize

Prize: £1000 to £3000, plus a month-long art residency in China and a solo exhibition in London for the first-place winner

Entry Fee: £25 for one artwork, up to £45 for four artworks.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists worldwide over the age of 18.

What You Need To Know:

This art competition prides itself on helping to broaden the horizons of artists and the communities they engage with. It offers artists the chance to have their work shown in an exhibition in London, and to develop their work during a residency in China.

The art contest accepts entries in a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, ceramic, original prints, installation art, mixed media, video art, and drawing.


2018 Winner, AD-Reflex

F The Art World

Prize: The winner in each category has their work exhibited in a week-long group show in New York City.

Entry Fee: $32 for up to four images.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

This is a unique art competition that does not judge artwork based on skill or technique. Instead, submissions are judged solely on the interpretation and depth of the subject matter.

The theme for the 2019 edition of the contest, for example, is A Competition About Change. The competition guidelines tell participants to think about how they see humanity and how they would like to change it: “show your interpretation of positive change through visual storytelling.”

There are four different categories for submissions: fine art/mixed media, sculpture, street art, and photography and digital art. The winner in each category has the opportunity to have their work shown for a week at the Unorthodox Gallery space in New York City. If any of the winners’ artwork is sold during the exhibition, the artist gets to keep 100 percent of the sales.

Online Art Contests


2017 Winner, Amy Carkeek

Contemporary Art Awards

Prize: $3000 first prize, a 6-month mentoring program, $1,500 voucher from display material company Fix8 Systems, and a 500-word review of your work or practice.

Entry Fee: $40 AUD.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists over the age of 18.

What You Need To Know:

Contemporary Art Awards is an annual Brisbane-based online art contest. The aim of this award is to support emerging artists in their early careers. The award does not restrict entries by category and welcomes all mediums including painting, works on paper, new media, photography, ceramics, sculpture, illustration, installation, and many more.


2018 Winner, Rojo Sache

Arte Laguna Prize

Prize: A large range of prizes, including: artist residencies located in Belgium, Taiwan, Spain, Italy, and more; the opportunity to collaborate with a business on an artistic project; €7000 institutional prizes in each category; and opportunities to exhibit in a variety of festivals.

Entry Fee: Starting at €65 per artwork.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.

What You Need To Know:

This online art contest has been around for 13 years and attracted over 42,000 artists from 120 countries. It accepts entries in eight categories: painting, sculpture and installation, photographic art, video art, performance, virtual art, digital graphics, and land art. So it’s safe to say that the Arte Laguna Prize is open to most artists. People from anywhere in the world can apply, and you can also enter in more than one category if you choose.

Canadian Art Competitions


2017 Winner, Christienne Cuevas

The Kingston Prize

Prize: $20,000 first prize, two honorable mentions awards of $2,000, and a People’s Choice award of $1,000.

Entry Fee: $30.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to Canadian artists aged 18 and over.

What You Need To Know:

The Kingston Prize is a biennial portrait drawing and painting contest. Applicants are asked to submit recent portraits of Canadian subjects (either a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant). The guidelines state that the portrait must be based on a meeting in person between the artist and subject.

The competition aims to promote Canadian artists and develop a historical record of Canadians, by Canadians. The judges choose 30 finalists, whose work becomes a touring exhibition. According to the contest site, “each exhibition becomes a fascinating snapshot of a cross-section of Canadian life.”


2017 Juror’s Choice Award, Jan Little

The Salt Spring National Art Prize

Prize: $15,000 first prize with a residency, four $3,000 Jurors’ Choice awards, and three People’s Choice awards of $1000 to $3,000.

Entry Fee: $30.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to Canadian artists aged 18 and over.

What You Need To Know:

This biennial art contest is organized by the Salt Spring Arts Council. The organization represents the arts for Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, which is known as one of the premier art communities in Canada. The art contest is open to a variety of visual art, including 2D or 3D works in any medium.

The Salt Spring National Art Prize aims to recognize artists whose work shows originality, quality, integrity, and creativity. In addition to the prize money, 50 finalists will be selected to have their work shown in a month-long exhibition on Salt Spring Island. The first prize winner also gets a $5,000 artist residency on the (ridiculously beautiful) island.


2018 Honorable Mention, Geetha Thurairajah

RBC Canadian Painting Competition

Prize: $25,000 top prize, two $15,000 prizes for honorable mentions, and 12 finalist prizes of $2,500.

Entry Fee: None.

Eligibility Requirements: Open to artists in the early stages (first five years) of their professional careers who have completed basic training at an art institution or have equivalent experience.

What You Need To Know:

This annual painting competition has been running since 1999 and aims to “bridge the gap from emerging to established artists.” Through the competition and an exhibition of the finalists’ paintings, this art contest helps expose more Canadians to the visual arts and the emerging artists in their communities.

Once the artists submit their entries, three regional juries made up of artists, curators, gallery directors, and industry leaders choose five paintings from their area to make up the fifteen finalists. The contest page says this regional judging process ensures the competition has a true representation of visual artists from across the country.

The top three works also get added to the RBC Corporate Art Collection. It is a collection of over 4,500 works of art that are displayed in RBC’s executive offices, conference floors, and key client-facing areas across Canada, New York, and London.

Don’t Forget to Show Off Any Competition Wins

If you win an art competition—or even get an honorable mention—you should show it off on your online portfolio website! As mentioned earlier, it will make a great addition to your About Me page because it shows people that you’ve earned some recognition for your talent—and this can help cement your reputation as a skilled artist.

Good luck—we’re rooting for you!

Looking for more contests?
The Best Design Contests, Competitions, and Awards for 2018/2019
The Best Illustration Competitions and Awards for 2018/2019
The Best Photography Contests and Prizes for 2018/2019

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