Our pick of the biggest and best UK Art Competitions 2017-2018 with dates, deadlines, prizes, past winners and entry fee info…
Art competitions are not for everyone. Hockney once quipped that ‘you wouldn’t call Picasso an award-winning artist, would you?’ Art awards neither make good artists nor confirm bad ones. What they do attest is that a selection of judges like the work – and, if the art gods are smiling, hand over a hefty cheque to prove it.
If you can afford the entry fees and maintain a zen-like tranquillity if your work doesn’t make the cut then you’re all set enter these UK art competitions. If your work does get selected then an exciting exhibition awaits and you can secretly practice that astonished winner’s acceptance speech. Fingers crossed…
Competitions are listed in chronological order by submission deadline date.
2018 competition now open for entries. The Lynn Painters Stainer Prize boasts one of the UK’s biggest prize funds totalling £30,000. Created in 2005 by the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and the Lynn Foundation to encourage the very best creative representational painting and promote the skill of draughtsmanship. The winner receives £15,000 with 2nd place and the young artist award each receiving £4,000. The Brian Botting Prize gives £5,000 for a chosen figurative work (by an artist aged 30 or under) while the Peoples’ Prize awards £2,000. The entry fee is £15 per work (£8 per work for students). See previous winners here.
Visit Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize
2018 competition is open for entries. Started in 2014 by Ashurst law firm & supported by Cass Art this is the fourth installment of the Ashurst art competition. A total prize fund of £7,000 plus £1,000 of vouchers for art materials will be split among four winners. The top prize is £3,000 plus a £500 voucher. Shortlisted artists will appear in a group show from April to June 2018 and prize winners will exhibit between July and September. You can enter up to 5 works with a fee of £20 for the first work then £10 for each additional entry. There are no restrictions on age or nationality – paintings, photography, mixed media, sculpture are all accepted. See 2016’s prize winners. Enter before the 26 November 2017 to receive practical and individual feedback on your application.
Visit Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize
2018 competition is open for entries. The annual competition encourages ‘innovation and experimentation in all water-based media’. There’s a top prize of £750 and various other prizes from £250-£500, magazine features to art materials & an exhibition at the Bankside Gallery, London (2rd-14th March 2018). See 2017 winners and selections, and 2016 here. Entry costs are £14 per entry with a maximum of 6 entries. Students are able to submit 3 works for a fee of £5. Open to both UK and international artists.
Visit Royal Watercolour Society
The 2018 competition is open for entries. Open to anybody over 18 from any country the RSPP Open Portrait Exhibition runs from the 5th – 20th May 2016 at the Mall Galleries, London. There’s some excellent prizes including the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize and a £3,000 prize for artists under 35 and a £2,000 drawing prize. Entry fee is £15 per artwork and £10 for under 35s. View selected works from the 2016 exhibition for an idea of what kind of work made the cut.
Visit Royal Society Of Portrait Painters
2017 competition closed for entries. Full details of the 2018 BP Portrait Award won’t be announced until November 2017 so here’s the 2017 award and exhibition info which I’ll update when the new entry details are announced. The 2016 exhibition ran at the National Portrait Gallery from 23rd June to 18th September 2016. The BP Portrait Award has become one of the UK’s most prestigious painting awards since its arrival in 1980. The first prize collects a whopping £30,000 plus a £5,000 portrait commission. There’s a further £31,000 worth of prizes so it’s worth checking the full list of awards and previous winners. Only one portrait painting can be entered with an entry fee of £40.
Visit BP Portrait Award
Applications for 2018 open on January 3rd. The largest open-submission art exhibition in the world. Limited to 12,000 total entries so get your entry in early to be considered (yep, they all fill up!). 2016’s Summer Exhibition showed over 1,200 artworks with Davis Nash scooping the £25,000 Charles Wollaston Award for his towering sculpture Big Black. You can enter up to 2 works at a cost of £25 per entry. 2017 exhibition dates were 13 June — 20 August. The RA’s annual art competition is open to UK and international artists.
Visit RA Summer Exhibition
2018 competition is open for entries. Run by The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation the Artist Of The Year award nets the winner an impressive £10,000. While you can enter in any medium (excluding photography, film and digitally created image) there are seven categories/themes to choose from including Urban Wildlife and Animal Behaviour. Up to five entries are allowed at a cost of £25 each (£10 each for DSWF Members, 17-25 yr olds and over 60s). Exhibition & awards will be held at the Mall Galleries, London 2nd May – 6th May 2018.
Visit Wildlife Artist of the Year
Submission opens: Monday 27 November 2017. The 2018 exhibition takes place at the Mall Galleries in London 15th-23rd of June. There are two top prizes of £5,000 and secondary awards of £500 and £300. UK and EU artists over 18 can enter. Entry fees are £15 per artwork or £10 for under 35 year olds (maximum of 6 entries). Paintings, drawings, pastels & original framed prints (not sculptures) are all accepted and must have been completed in the last 2 years.
Visit New English Art Club
2018 competition open for entry. A new non-profit art competition that’s a celebration of artists working in: drawing, printing, painting, photography, digital art and sculpture. The overall winner of the VAO receives a cash prize of £1,000, commercial mentoring package, solo show and an exhibition at Chester Arts Fair 2018. Winners in each category will receive a cash prize of £250. Entries welcome from both UK and International participants. There is a submission fee of £15.00 per work (£10.00 per work for artists aged 25 or under) and a maximum of 5 entries per person.
Visit Visual Art Open
2018 competition now open for entries. Run by The Glaziers Foundation and is open to stained and architectural glass artists and designers of eight years’ standing or less (including students) and this year is for the design of windows for a school dance studio in Eastbourne, England. The winner will receive £2,000 and the commission, if awarded, is worth £20,000. The 2nd Prize is £1,200, 3rd Prize £600 and various other prizes of £300. Prizes are announced on 24 May 2018 at Glaziers Hall, London. Watch this video featuring glass artist Derek Hunt for more details about the competition. Download the full details and entry form (direct link to PDF file here) via the link at the bottom of the website below.
Visit The Stevens Competition
2017 competition closed for entries. The 4th John Ruskin Prize is organised by the fine people at The Big Draw and Guild of St. George. 2017 competition closed for entries. This year’s theme is: Hand & Eye: Master of All Trades in The Age of Jack – a celebration of the artist as polymath (like Ruskin himself). 2017 marks the first year that The Prize will be open to makers and craftspeople, as well as fine artists over 18 and working in the UK. The top prize winner will receive £3000, 2nd prize £1000 and a Student Prize of £1000. 20 finalists will be included in an exhibition at The Millennium Gallery, Sheffield 21st June – 8th October 2017 where the three main winners will be announced at a private view in June 2017. Entry fees are 1 artwork: £12 for 1 artwork, £15 for 2 artworks and £20 for 3 artworks (with reduced rates for students).
Visit John Ruskin Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. A London based fine art award for emerging and established artists with a global twist. Watch this video to learn more about the prize and venues. Winners will receive a one month residency in both the FA Eduction of Art and Design residency centre and The Redtory Art & Design Factory (Guangzhou, Beijing or Macau). The first prize winner will receive £3,000, a public solo exhibition at Sunny Art Centre in London, a one month residency along with a show at a partners gallery. Second prize is £2,000, a group exhibition, a one month residency and show. Third prize is £1,000, group exhibition, a one month residency and show. Entry fees are £25 for one artwork, £32 for two artworks, £40 for three artworks and £45 for four artworks.
Visit The Sunny Art Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. The National Open Art Competition is run by The Chichester Art Trust, a not for profit charity. The adult competition is open to UK & Ireland residents over 15 years of age by 1st of September 2017; those younger can enter the Children’s Competition. There are dozens of prizes in several categories totalling tens of thousands of pounds – the top prizes are £5,000. Watch a video of the 2016 Exhibition and gallery images for an insight into the awards. There’s a £20 registration fee for the adult competition (includes first submission) additional submissions (up to 3) are £20 each. Artists under 24 and over 14 pay £12 for registration and submissions (under 15s pay £5).
Visit National Open Art
2017 competition closed for entries. Open to contemporary artists born, based or who have studied in the North of England: Cumbria, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland and Yorkshire. Shortlisted artists will feature in the New Light Prize Exhibition, touring three of the North’s most prestigious venues as well as a week long London exhibition at the Bankside Gallery. This year’s awards include the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Prize, a Patron’s Choice Award of £2,500 and Printmakers’ Prize amongst others totalling over £15,000. Entry fees are £15 for one artwork, £30 for two then £10 per work thereafter. A maximum of 3 works per artist will be shortlisted. Artworks must have been produced within the last 3 years.
Visit New Light Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. If you’re aware of Aesthetica Magazine you’re probably familiar with the Aesthetica Art Prize. The main prize is £5,000, as well as a group exhibition and £250 of art materials. There’s also a student prize of £1,000 and £150 of art materials. See images and details of previous winners here. Open to UK and international artists with an entry fee of £20 that allows you to submit 2 entries with the option of paying for further entries. categories include Video, Installation & Performance, Photographic & Digital Art, Drawing & Painting and 3D Design & Sculpture.
Visit Aesthetica Art Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. Wirral Society of Arts biennial exhibition is open to all artists – local, national and international – at all stages in their careers. Prizes of £1,500, £1,000 and £500 will be awarded by a panel of independent judges. There’s a flat fee per artist of £20 for WSA members and £35 for non-members (up to 4 works allowed). The exhibition is to be held at the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead, Wirral, from 16 October to 19 November 2017. Handing-in dates are 15 and 16 September. Deadline for online submissions is 10th of September. Entry forms and further details are available on the Wirral Society of Arts website.
Visit WSA Open Exhibition
2017 competition closed for entries. With a first prize of £20,000 and London solo show this is one of the best art competitions of the year for figurative and representational artists. A further prize of £10,000 is awarded by visitors to the exhibition (at Mall Galleries in central London from 31st Jan to 17th Feb 2018) while five shortlisted artists will each receive £1,000. Open to UK & Continental Europe based artists producing “fresh and topical paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, collages, 3D works, sculpture maquettes”, installations or reliefs. Watch the competition promo video here. Up to 6 works can be submitted online with an entry fee of £15 per work.
Visit Columbia Threadneedle Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. The winner will receive £10,000 and the chance for their work to be purchased for the Ruth Borchard Next Generation Collection. 120 shortlisted works will be exhibited at Kings Place, London. Open to artists of any age based in the UK and Ireland. Works must be a self-portrait of the artist (alone or as part of a group, figurative or abstract) including drawing, painting, watercolour, print, collage, photo-collage, mixed media, and low-relief sculpture and construction. Submission cost is £25. See the full FAQ’s and entry criteria here.
Visit Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. Not your usual art competition – this is a chance to appear on the popular Sky Arts series travelling to impressive locations to compete for the title of Landscape Artist of the Year or Portrait Artist Of The Year. The winner of each competition gets the added bonus of a £10,000 commission for a British institution’s permanent collection and £500 of art materials from Cass Art. Here’s a time lapse video of 2016’s winner Nerine McIntyre competing in the final. If you’re as comfortable in front of camera as canvas then this could be worth a shot. If you’ve missed the closing date wild card places are available until June.
Visit Sky Arts Artist of the Year
And so concludes this UK Art Competitions 2017 post. I’ll add more 2018 competition dates when they’re announced. Good luck if you decide to enter any and let me know if you win!