Our pick of the biggest and best UK Art Competitions 2017-2018 with dates, deadlines, prizes, past winners and entry fee info…
Art competitions aren’t 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 your 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 zen-like tranquillity if your work doesn’t make the cut then you’re in as good a place as any to 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.
The 4th John Ruskin Prize is organised by the fine people at The Big Draw and Guild of St. George. 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
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
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
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
There’s a wonderful simplicity to this art prize that befits the work of William Blake. One prize. One drawing. Two words of inspiration. Just send in a postcard-sized drawing (A6, 105 mm x 148 mm) inspired by William Blake’s concept of Bounding Line. Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller will choose the winning entry with a prize of £524 (representing 10% of subscription income from 2015). Drawings in pencil, charcoal, crayon or pens are all accepted. There are no entry fees, no limit on entries and no restrictions on country of residence. The winning entry will be announced at an event at Waterstones Piccadilly on the 6th of December 2016.
Visit The Blake Society Award
2017 competition closed 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 a magazine feature to art materials & an exhibition at the Bankside Gallery, London (3rd-15th March 2017). See 2016 winners and exhibition selections 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 UK and international artists.
Visit Royal Watercolour Society
2017 competition closed 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
2017 competition closed for entries. Started in 2014 by Ashurst law firm & supported by Cass Art this is the third installment of the Ashurst art competition. A total prize fund of £7,000 includes £1,000 of vouchers for art materials and solo exhibitions in London for each of the the four winners. 2017 sees the addition of the Rich Mix Prize – a new award which is for artists living in or creating work influenced by East London. 25 artists will be selected for a group show from April to June 2017 and 3 winners will be given solo exhibitions (and prizes) in Summer 2017. 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 at the link below or email any questions to email@example.com.
Visit Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize
2017 competition closed for entries. 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. 2016 exhibition dates were 13 June — 21 August 2016. Entry details now online. The RA’s annual art competition is open to UK and international artists.
Visit RA Summer Exhibition
2017 competition closed 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 26th June – 2nd July 2017.
Visit Wildlife Artist of the Year
2017 competition closed for entries. The 2017 exhibition takes place at the Mall Galleries in London 16th-25th 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
2017 competition closed for entries. 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 2017. 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
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
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!