The Best Art Contests for 2021

Current and Upcoming Art Competitions for 2021

Use Your Artistic Talent to Win Prizes from Art Contests
Use Your Artistic Talent to Win Prizes from Art Contests.

Image (c) Yaorusheng / Getty Images

Art contests are a way for you to show off your artistic talents while gaining exposure and winning scholarships, cash, and other useful prizes. If you'd like to win awards for your drawings, paintings, photos, or other two-dimensional creations, here are the best art contests to enter in 2019 and 2020.

1. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for Kids

Let your kids show off their artistic talents for the chance to win acclaim and cash for education from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Kids should enter "work that demonstrates originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision" in one of 29 art and writing categories.

Entries usually open in September. The fee for entering is $7 per entry or $25 per portfolio. Fee waivers are available for those who can demonstrate financial need.

The art contest is open to "public, private, or home-school students in the U.S., Canada, or American schools abroad enrolled in grades 7–12". Winners are selected on the basis of originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal vision or voice.

The winners will receive prizes that include publication, exhibition, and educational scholarships worth up to $10,000. 

2. The Congressional Art Competition for High Schoolers

The U.S. Congress seeks to encourage artists through an annual art contest. High schoolers (and some children in 7th and 8th grade) are encouraged to submit two-dimensional artwork including paintings, drawings, computer-generated artwork, photographs, and more to their representatives for consideration.

Entries are accepted each spring. See the current year's rules for exact dates. There is no fee for entering this art contest.

The winners will have their artwork publicly displayed at the Capitol for a year, and are also honored at an awards show in DC. 

3. Doodle for Google Art Contest for Kids

This free annual contest asks kids to send in sketches that fit a specific theme. The chosen winners will receive big prizes and have their artwork show up on Google's website. This is a big opportunity for creative children: recently a seven-year-old won an $80,000 prize for their sketch.

This annual contest begins at the start of each year. The competition is open to children in grades K - 12 from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. Submit your entry by mail or by digital upload.

Entries will be judged on the basis of artistic merit, creativity, and fit to the theme.

The grand prize includes $30,000 scholarship, $50,000 to build a computer lab, and more. Other prizes will also be awarded.

4. Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition

Artists Network invites beginner and advanced artists to submit their most outstanding artwork in five different categories including portraits and figures; still lifes and interiors; landscapes; abstract and experimental art; and wildlife for the chance to win exposure and prizes.

The contest is open to artists living anywhere in the world except for Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea who are at least 16 years old. Entries must be submitted online, and the deadline each year is in mid-May. The fees are $40 per image for the regular division and $20 per image for the beginner division. You can save $5 per image by entering early in the competition.

This art contest gives away thousands of dollars in cash prizes, publicity including publication in Artists Magazine, and scholarships to improve your art.

5. The Chelsea International Fine Arts Competition

For more than 30 years, this annual art contest has awarded visual artists from around the world who are working in mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, drawing, mixed media, and print with cash and wide exposure for their work.

This contest is open to visual artists from around the world at any stage of their careers who are at least 18 years of age. The entry fees are $45 for up to five images and $5 for each additional image. In 2020, the deadline for entries and fees was in early October. They also had an "early bird" entry stage, where you could submit additional images for free.

The 2020 contest gave away over $70,000 in cash awards plus inclusion in a popular exhibition, international exposure, and more. 

6. The Lumen Prize for Art and Technology

The Lumen Prize was established in 2012 to give exposure and support to people around the globe who use technology to create gorgeous artwork. Aside from the prizes, this contest also involves exhibitions and events to raise awareness.

Anyone around the globe is invited to participate, as long as their art incorporates some element of technology. Entries usually open in mid-February. There's a fee for entering: $48 for two pieces of artwork and $24 for each additional piece after that.

In 2021, the total prize pool will be worth $11,500. There will be five different categories for entry, as well as a People’s Choice Award, a Lumen Gold award, and a Rapoport Award for Women in Art and Technology.

Entries will be accepted starting in the spring and ending in early summer.

If you're ready to start entering and winning art contests, check out these tips from an art competition judge. Good luck!