10 of the Best Art Competitions to Enter in 2019

If you’re creating amazing art but struggling to gain exposure, art contests are a great opportunity for publicity. And if you’re living the infamous “starving artist” lifestyle, this is also a way to pull yourself out of a rough spot by potentially winning cash prizes, allowing you to gain an extra financial boost towards your dream creative projects. There are loads of different competitions out there, from world renowned painting contests to inspiring digital art challenges. With so much to choose from, we’ve created a guide to help you decide which competitions are best suited to you.

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Ready to show off your art to the world? Check out our guide to some of the best art contests to enter this year.


Painting Competitions

Art Contests

Photo: Daian Gan

BP Portrait Award

Prize: £35,000 first prize, and a total prize fund of £74,000.
Entry Fee: Free.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide age 18 and over.
Closing Date: January 21, 2019

Believed to be the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world, the BP Portrait Award is in its 40th year. As well as generous cash prizes, the contest aims to support the careers of the winning portrait artists by giving them the chance to exhibit at the famous National Portrait Gallery in London. Submissions must be painted in oil, tempera, or acrylic on canvas or board. Works on paper will not be considered.

Enter now.


AcrylicWorks 7

Prize: All winners will appear in the seventh edition of AcrylicWorks.
Entry Fee: $30.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in acrylic.
Closing Date: February 1, 2019

For the AcrylicWorks 7 competition, the organizers are looking for the best in acrylic painting over a variety of styles and subjects. Winners will be asked to write about their painting in relation to this year’s theme: Color & Light. This could be interpreted through your creative or technical process, materials, or artistic inspiration. Winners’ works will be featured in the 7th North Light AcrylicWorks Book.

“It starts with a sparkle of light—the expressive way a shadow maps out a face, or the brilliant shades of green on spring trees,” say AcrylicWorks. “Color and light surround us, and in painting they can be used to represent ideas, convey mood and express emotion. As artists, color and light can help us tell stories and evoke memories. These are the moments that turn ordinary subjects into powerful inspiration, and—when handled with skill and passion—a painting into a masterpiece.”

Enter now.


Splash 21

Prize: All winners will appear in the twenty-first edition of Splash.
Entry Fee: $35.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: January 31, 2019

For the Splash 21 contest, Artists Network is looking for paintings that capture a specific mood. No matter the style or subject, the ability to evoke a feeling or emotion is a powerful ability that the team believes deserves special recognition. Each entry must be rendered predominantly with watercolor; however, some minor use of other mediums may be acceptable. All winners will appear in the twenty-first edition of Splash, a hardcover volume that celebrates watercolor painting.

Enter now.


Digital Art Contests

CGTrader Digital Art Competition

Prize: A variety of prizes valued at over $60,000.
Entry Fee: Free.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: September 30, 2019

Held by CGTrader, a marketplace for 3D models, the CGTrader Digital Art Competition is calling all computer graphic artists (both 2D and 3D) to submit their best artwork. There are six different categories to choose from, including character illustration, environment illustration, object design, character concept art, environmental concept art, and object concept design.

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The winners from each category will be awarded a variety of prizes such as a GT-221 PRO Pen Tablet Monitor valued at $1,150, plus a range of graphic software licenses and magazine subscriptions. Entering will also give artists the chance to have their work seen by CGTrader’s community of 1.2 million active users.

Enter now.


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.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.

This digital art competition is organized by Lumen Art Projects Ltd, a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to providing new opportunities for digital artists around the world. The contest guidelines are relatively loose—the only requirement is that the submitted artworks must somehow engage with technology. There are several cash prizes to be won, so check out the previous winners to get inspired.

Entries open February 15, 2019. Find out more.


Illustration Contests

Art Contests

Photo: rawpixel

World Illustration Awards

Prize: A cash prize of £2,000 and more publicity opportunities.
Entry Fee: £25 (approximately $30)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: January 31, 2019

Anyone who’s into illustration is bound to have heard of the prestigious World Illustration Awards. Illustrators are invited to submit work created or published since January 2018 to 8 different categories. Winners will not only win a cash prize, but they’ll also be awarded invaluable global exposure, such as a marketing package in the Directory of Illustration, a feature in a major exhibition in central London, and a invitation to the Awards Evening in October—an event on every illustration agency and publisher’s calendar!

Enter now.


Society of Illustrators Annual Competition

Prize: Medals, certificates, work published in a full-color catalog and displayed in an exhibition.
Entry Fee: $35 per single image, $75 for a series up to five images.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: February 25, 2019

The Society of Illustrators Annual Competition is known as the premier showcase for college-level illustration students. Artwork can be entered in several categories including editorial, book, advertising, institutional, and uncommissioned. The selected entries will be exhibited at the Society of Illustrators’ gallery in New York City and be printed in full color in their annual catalog.

Enter now.


General Art Contests

Art Contests

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Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition

Prize: $24,000 in cash prizes and publication in Artists Magazine.
Entry Fee: Regular Division: $35 per image. Student/ Beginner Division: $15 per image.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in a traditional medium.
Closing Date: April 2, 2019.

Artists Magazine’s Annual Art Competition celebrates traditional 2D artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, mixed media, printmaking, digital art, and much more. Winners will be chosen from a variety of categories including Portrait/Figure, Still Life, Landscape, Abstract, and Animal/Wildlife.

Along with generous cash prizes, this contest provides a huge opportunity to gain exposure—all winners’ work will be featured in the December 2019 issue of Artists Magazine.

Enter now.


Frieze Artist Award

Prize: Up to $25,000 towards project production.
Entry Fee: Free
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: January 11, 2019

The esteemed Frieze Artist Award, curated by Courtney J Martin, provides emerging artists the chance to realize a major site-specific work at Frieze Art Fair, New York. The exciting award includes a substantial budget of up to $25,000 for production, research, fees, and travel expenses needed to complete the project. Frieze New York will take place in May 2019.

Enter now.


The Sunny Art Prize

Prize: A total cash fund of over $7,000 plus a month-long art residency in China and a solo exhibition in London.
Entry Fee: $30 for one artwork, up to $60 for four artworks.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide age 18 and over.
Closing Date: June 30, 2019

One of the most inclusive and diverse art competitions in the UK, the Sunny Art Prize offers unique exposure for both emerging and established artists. Winners will be granted an opportunity to have their work shown in an exhibition in London, and develop their work during a month-long residency in China. A £6,000 (approximately $7,600) total cash prize will be split between the first three winning artists.

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

Enter now.


Remember, practice makes perfect! If you’re eager to share your art and get immediate feedback from other art lovers, show off your work in our Art, Design, Photography, and Drawing Club.


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