Our pick of the biggest and best UK Art Competitions 2019-2020 with dates, deadlines, prizes, categories and entry fees…
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 practice that astonished winner’s acceptance speech. Fingers crossed…
Competitions are listed in chronological order by submission deadline date.
Biennial prize initiated by London gallerist Cynthia Corbett in 2009 to reward contemporary artists (of all ages) who embrace the art of the past.
|Deadline:||31 May 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||Announced 29 June|
|Exhibition:||La Galleria, London (30 Sep – 5 Oct)|
|Theme:||“Show originality, skill and imagination in response to the art of the past.”|
|Medium:||Any media (separate ceramics prizes)|
|Eligibility:||UK & international artists (18+)|
|Entry Fee:||£35 (allows up to 4 artworks)|
Celebrating its 15th anniversary with all proceeds going towards supporting artsdepot’s programme of free art exhibitions in London.
|Deadline:||10 June 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||Announced 28 June|
|Exhibition:||Apthorp Gallery, London (18 Jul – 30 Aug)|
|Eligibility:||UK based artists (16+)|
|Entry Fee:||£12 per work / £6 students (max 3)|
The largest UK art prize for contemporary watercolour painting enters its 32nd year. Approximately 100 water-based works to be selected for touring exhibition.
|Deadline:||17 June 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||Announced 21 June (2nd round selection 5-6 July)|
|Medium:||Any water-based media (includes acrylics, gouache & inks)|
|Eligibility:||UK based artists|
|Entry Fee:||£15 per work (max 4)|
Founded in 1994 as the the Rexel Derwent Open then Jerwood Drawing Prize. Holds the largest prize fund celebrating drawing practice in the UK.
|Deadline:||26 June 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||Announced 18 July|
|Exhibition:||Trinity Buoy Wharf, London (Opens 25 Sep 2019 before touring to July 2020)|
|Medium:||Any media considered as drawing|
|Eligibility:||UK based artists|
|Entry Fee:||1 work: £20, 2 works: £30, 3 works: £40 (students £15/£20/£25)|
Established by the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers at the Bankside Gallery to showcase the best in contemporary printmaking across all techniques.
|Deadline:||27 June 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||26 July announcement (check website after 6pm)|
|Exhibition:||Bankside Gallery, London (18 Sep – 29 Sep)|
|Medium:||Any printmaking technique|
|Eligibility:||UK & International artists|
|Entry Fee:||£15 per work (max 4) students £8 per work|
|Notes:||See also their Masters competition for relief printmaking (deadline 23 Sep)|
A unique opportunity to win cash prizes, a solo show at a London gallery and a one month residency in China! A truly international art competition.
|Deadline:||30 June 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||Announced 10 July|
|Theme:||“Winners of previous editions did so by raising awareness of global issues and themes.”|
|Medium:||Any media (Max 2D: 120 x 120 cm. Max 3D: 80 x 80 x 80 cm)|
|Eligibility:||UK & International artists (18+)|
|Entry Fee:||1 work: £25, 2 works: £32, 3 works: £40, 4 works: £45|
Anyone living, studying or born in Scotland can enter these fine art and photography awards with touring shows in Edinburgh, Glasgow & Kirkcudbright.
|Deadline:||30 June 2019 open for entry!|
|Shortlist:||Announced 1 August (60 finalists: 30 fine artists and 30 photographers)|
|Theme:||“The subject may involve one or more people and self-portraits are also permitted.”|
|Medium:||Any 2D/3D media (size restrictions apply: view rules)|
|Eligibility:||Anyone born, living or studying in Scotland (16+)|
|Entry Fee:||£10 per work (max 6)|
Founded in 2006 the ACS Studio Prize offers artists starting their career the chance to win £6,000 to contribute to the cost of an artist’s studio in the UK. If you are an EU or EEA national and are an undergraduate or postgraduate university student on an accredited art course who is about to graduate, or if you have graduated from a university accredited art course within the last four years, and you work in pictures, collage, painting, sculpture, tapestry, ceramics, glassware or photography, then you are eligible to apply for the prize. There are no entry fees so if you meet the requirements just write a supporting statement of 750 – 2,000 words and upload 10-15 images of their work.
Visit The Artists’ Collecting Society Studio Prize
Open for entry. Wirral Society of Arts biennial exhibition is open to all artists – local, national and international – at all stages in their careers. Prizes of £2,000, and four prizes of £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 3 August until 15 September 2019. Handing-in dates are 19 and 20 July 2019. Deadline for online submissions is 1st of July. Entry forms and further details are available on the Wirral Society of Arts website.
Visit WSA Open Exhibition
Open for entry. Established in 2017 the Spectrum Art Award is a unique celebration of the creative excellence of artists on the autistic spectrum (whether they have an official diagnosis or not). Individual or collective work can come in any form and media. 5 selected finalists will be made in the winter of 2019 with each winning a cash award of £5,000 and an opportunity to exhibit and advance their work. All 5 will also receive professional mentoring, curatorial and PR support. Applicants must include a short statement of up to 500 words detailing their interest in the award as well as their CV and images of their work.
Visit The Spectrum Art Prize
Open for entry. The UK based prize has gone global for its 7th edition with an increased prize fund of $30,000 and an exhibition Singapore. Open to all artists from anywhere in the world aged 18 or over working in all genres of art including oil, acrylic, mixed media, drawing, ink, watercolour, calligraphy & original print; Sculpture; Photography & digital art. 1st Prize $15,000, 2nd Prize $7,000 and a Young Artist Prize (up to 30 years) of $3,000. Entry fees: First entry – £20, Up to 3 entries – £45, Up to 6 entries – £70.
Visit The Art Gemini Prize
2019 open 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 £24 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. Entry fee is £24.
Visit Aesthetica Art Prize
Open for entries. The Ibero-American themed visual arts competition invites artists to submit original works inspired by Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese arts and cultures. It is organised by ACALASP (the Association of Cultural Attachés of Latin America, Spain and Portugal). First prize is £5,000 and a solo exhibition at the Embassy of Brazil the following year. Second prize is £2,000. One entry per person, no entry fees. More info in the call for entries document. Shortlisted works will be shown at an exhibition at the Sala Brasil gallery in London from 13 Nov – 18 Dec 2019.
Visit The VIA Arts Prize
Entry dates announced Summer 2019. Running since 1990 (see past exhibitions) this is a quirky and original exhibition featuring small works. Two artists, two collectors and two critics choose both publicly submitted works and works by invited artists. Each selector’s section is hung separately in what becomes six mini exhibitions within an exhibition. The ING Purchase Prize winner receives £5,000 and there are several other prizes ranging from £2,500, £1,000, £750 and £500, with 6 regional winners receiving £250 each. Open to UK based artists – the work must be for sale, and no more than twenty inches (50 centimentres) in any dimension. Artists can submit up to six works which can be two or three dimensional using any media.
Visit ING Discerning Eye Exhibition
Awaiting opening date. 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
Can’t believe it’s taken me so long to feature this annual exhibition based in my home city of Edinburgh! The good news is you don’t need to be Scottish or have a Scottish connection to exhibit – as long as you can drop off any chosen works in person. A long list of Awards & Prizes includes the £3,000 W Gordon Smith Awardand an exhibition at the prestigious Open Eye Gallery. If accepted the exhibition runs from the 23rd December – 17th January 2019 at the beautiful Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Non-members can submit up to 3 works and at £15 per submission. Members can submit up to 4 works for free with student memberships only £10 a year, recent graduates £20 and other artists £40.
Visit Society of Scottish Artists Exhibition
Check back later for 2019 entry dates. A newcomer to the UK art competition roster had its first outing in November 2017. Held in association with London’s Evening Standard and Hiscox fine art insurers. Boasts a first prize of £10,000. Shortlisted works will go on display in the National Gallery, London. Open to UK residents over 18. See prize news and previous winners here. The prize has focused on painting so far. Will update this with entry details and submission prices etc as more details are released.
Visit Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize
Open for entry. The biennial Chaiya Art Awards has its roots in Christianity but is open to people of all faiths, to those who have no belief in God, and to everyone in between. The theme for the award is ‘God Is…” Entrants must be UK based individual artists and groups. Entries will be judged on theme interpretation, originality and technique and emotional impact. Top prize is The Chaiya Art Award of £10,000 then a Public Choice award of £1,000, other prizes to be announced. An exhibition of shorlisted artists will take place at Oxo Tower Wharf, London between the 10-19th April. Watch this video trailer for the show to see previous entries. Early bird entry fees 1 entry: £15, 2 entries £25, 3 entries £35. After July 18th fees are 1 entry: £20, 2 entries £35, 3 entries £50 (concessions £10).
Visit The Chaiya Art Awards
Entry dates for 2020 to be announced in September 2019. First held in 1957, the John Moores Painting Prize is still going strong as one of the biggest art competitions in the UK with a first prize of £25,000. Last year’s prize had 2,700 entries with 60 artists shortlisted for the exhibition at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. This documentary on the prize and its fascinating history (David Hockney is a former winner) is a nice introduction with Alexei Sayle presenting. One painting can be entered (entry fee is £30) by any UK based artist over 18. The exhibition will run from July to November 2020.
Visit John Moores Painting Prize
The Lynn Painters Stainer Prize boasts one of the UK’s biggest prize funds totalling £35,000. 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 in 2019 will receive £20,000 (up £5,000 from 2018) 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
Entries open September 2020. 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. 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 2017 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
2019 competition closed for entry. 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 (8th-20th March 2019). See 2018 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
2019 competition closed. Open to anybody over 18 from any country, the RSPP Open Portrait Exhibition runs from the 9th – 24th May 2019 at the Mall Galleries, London. 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
2019 award closed for entries. 2019’s touring exhibition will begin at the National Portrait Gallery from 13 June to 20th October 2019. 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 £35,000 plus a £7,000 portrait commission. There’s a further £32,000 worth of prizes so it’s worth checking the full list of awards and previous winners. Only one portrait painting can be entered with £40 entry fee.
Visit BP Portrait Award
2019 prize closed for entries. With a prize fund of £15,000 this competition is open to UK based artists, currently studying or within 10 years of art school graduation. Ten short-listed sculptors will receive £1,000 each to create their proposed sculpture at Broomhill Sculpture Park in North Devon. The judges’ overall winner receives £3,500 with the piece becoming part of the Broomhill Art and Sculpture Foundation collection. The ‘Public Speaks’ winner receives £1,500 for the most public votes during the exhibition. Register and pay the £20 entry fee before 31st of January and you’ll have until the 28th of February to submit your proposal.
Visit the Broomhill National Sculpture Prize
2020 entry date to be announced. 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!). 2018’s Summer Exhibition (curated by Grayson Perry) showed over 1,300 artworks with Mike Nelson scooping the £25,000 Charles Wollaston Award for his towering sculpture Big Black. You can enter up to 2 works at a cost of £35 per entry. 2019 exhibition dates are 10th June — 12th August. The RA’s annual art competition is open to UK and international artists.
Visit RA Summer Exhibition
2019 awards closed for entry. £1,000 for students, recent graduates and those new to illustration – see the full list of prizes here. The Awards are broken up into 8 categories from books and editorial to experimental and site-specific work. Single image entries are £25 or you can enter up to 5 images for £45. The FAQ section does a fine job of making everything clearer than this tiny summary!
Visit the World Illustration Awards
2019 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 in May 2019.
Visit Wildlife Artist of the Year
2019 competition closed for entries. Not your usual art competition – this is a chance to appear on the popular Sky Arts series presented by Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan. Filming will take place in April and May 2019 (to be aired in 2020). Here’s a trailer from 2017. The winner receives a £10,000 commission for a British institution’s permanent collection and £500 of art materials from Cass Art. If you’re as comfortable in front of a camera as a canvas then this could be an amazing experience. To enter you’ll need to submit photos of a self portrait, a secondary portrait and an optional third portrait. There are no entry fees. Finalists will exhibit at Clarendon Fine Art Dover Street, Mayfair from Friday 7th to Saturday 15th December.
Visit Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year
2019 competition closed for entries. Takes place at the Mall Galleries in London 14th-22nd 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
2019 prize closed for entries. Started in 2014 by Ashurst law firm & supported by Cass Art this is the fifth instalment of the Ashurst art competition with new photography and new media prizes increasing the total prize fund to £9,000. The top prize is £3,000 plus a £500 voucher. See the full list of prizes here. Shortlisted artists will appear in a group show from May to July 2019 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 previous prize winners from 2015 onwards.
Visit Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize
2019 prize closed for entries. A non-profit art competition, the VAO is a celebration of artists working in: drawing, printing, painting, photography, digital art and sculpture. With a prize fund of £5,000 the overall winner of the VAO receives a cash prize of £1,000, mentoring package, solo show and an exhibition at Chester Arts Fair 2019. 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 under 24) and a maximum of 5 entries per person.
Visit Visual Art Open
2019 prize closed for entries. We’ve already crowned Jackson’s Art as the best website for buying art supplies in the UK so it’s fitting that they run a pretty great art prize themselves. The Jackson’s Open Painting Prize has a first prize of £5,000, a People’s Choice Award of £1,000, an Emerging Artist prize of £1,000 and six prizes of £500 in each category of: Portrait/Figure, Animals, Still life/Botanical, Non-representational, Abstract, Landscape/Cityscape/Seascape and Scenes of Everyday Life. Entering the Prize costs only £5 per artwork with a maximum entry of 5 works. Not sure if your work’s a god fit? Read this informative post from former judge, Julie Caves, for more on the selection criteria.
Visit The Jackson’s Open Painting Prize
2019 prize closed for entries. The exhibition of selected works takes place at MOSTYN Contemporary Art Gallery in Wales, with a top prize of £10,000 awarded to a single artist or collective and an ‘Audience Award of £1,000 for the artist receiving the most votes from exhibition visitors. An Exhibition Award will award an exhibition at MOSTYN to the artist or collective that the selectors feel would most benefit at this point in their career. Open to artists working in any medium from any country. Exhibition dates are 13th July – 27 October 2019. You can enter up to 6 artworks with an entry fee of £25 per work.
Visit The Jackson’s Open Painting Prize
2019 prize closed for entries. Awarded for the best visual arts response to ‘Identity’ – the theme of the 2019 Alpine Fellowship Annual Symposium. The winner and two runners up are invited to attend the symposium in Sweden. Winner receives £2000 and a further £1000 towards shipping and installing the winning piece. Open to all nationalities, aged 18 and above. All visual media permitted including, but not limited to, painting, sculpture, digital, and installation. Limited to one entry per person – should include images or video and details of the work, including a short description of how it is related to the theme of ‘Identity.’ Shortlisted entries will be notified by email.
Visit The Alpine Fellowship Visual Arts Prize
2019 competition closed 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 at University College Hospital. The winner will receive £2,000 and the commission, if awarded, is worth £12,000. The 2nd Prize is £1,200, 3rd Prize £600 and various other prizes of £300. Prizes are announced on 30th May 2019 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
2019 competition closed for entry. 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.
Visit Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize
2019 competition closed for entry. Now in it’s 5th year the John Ruskin Prize is organised by the fine people at The Big Draw and Guild of St. George. This year coincides with the bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth and the theme for 2019’s prize is: Agent’s Of Change – an opportunity for creatives to “consider their role as catalysts of change, critics, social and political commentators and material innovators”. The prize is open to makers and craftspeople as well as fine artists over 18 and working in the UK. The top prize winner receives £3000, 2nd prize £1000 and a Student Prize of £1000. 25 finalists will be selected to exhibit at The Holden Gallery at Manchester School of Art where the three main winners will be announced at a private view on 11th July. Sign up for their newsletter for entry updates. 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
2019 competition closed for entry. 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. 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 the trailer for last year’s competition with Joan Bakewell & Frank Skinner hosting. If you’re as comfortable in front of camera as canvas then this could be worth a shot. If you end up missing the deadline watch out for wild card places available until June.
Visit Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year
2019 awards closed for entry. Established by a group of artists in South-West England in 2012, the Wells Art Contemporary Awards are open to UK and international artists working in ay medium – large works are encouraged. Entry Fee is £15 per work (£12 per work for current students) with a maximum of limit of 4 entries. One artist will receive the £2,000 RK Harrison Award, up to 4 artists will be awarded an exhibition at the JGM Gallery next to the Royal College of Art in London. There’s a mentoring prize, People’s Prize and a Next Generation Art Prize for artists under 30 to exhibit at the gallery. The Exhibition will be open to the public in July and August.
Visit The WAC Awards
Next competition to take place in late 20120. A biennial competition 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
And so concludes this UK Art Competitions 2019-2020 post. I’ll add more competition dates when they’re announced. Good luck if you decide to enter and let me know if you win!