12 of the Best Art Competitions to Enter in 2023

Art Contests

Photo: Khara Woods
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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, that will place you in the art world. With so much to choose from, we’ve created a guide to help you decide which visual arts competitions are best suited to you and your artistic talents. Depending on your eligibility, you can try for these annual awards year after year.

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

PleinArt Salon Art Competition

“Catalyst” by Jennifer McChristian. Winner, 11th annual PleinAir Salon Art Competition

PleinAir Salon Art Competition

Prize: $50,000 in All Cash Prizes. $15,000 Grand Prize for annual competition ($24,200 in annual cash awards), $600 first place prize for monthly competitions ($25,800 in monthly cash awards).
Entry Fee: $38 for the first image, $16 for subsequent images. (entries placed in first two weeks of the month receive a 25% discount)
Requirements: Open to international artists 18 years of age and older.
Closing Date: Each monthly competition ends at midnight Pacific Time on the published final day of that competition. Winners are announced on the last day of the month following the competition.

PleinAir magazine hosts monthly painting competitions that award artists across a variety of painting mediums. The winners of the monthly competitions will be entered into the annual competition with a chance to win $15,000. The winner of the annual competition will also see their work placed on the cover of PleinAir magazine. There are 19 categories to select from, some reserved specifically for plein air painting, while others also accept studio paintings. The winners will be showcased in PleinAir Magazine, and all winners and finalists will have their work promoted online on sites like FineArtConnoisseur.comOutdoorPainter.comPleinAirSalon.com, and in a variety of e-newsletters.

Enter now


Watermedia Showcase

Prize: $2,500 first prize, $1,250 second prize.
Entry Fee: $35 ($30 before February 6, 2023).
Requirements: Open to international artists 18 years of age and older.
Closing Date: April 11, 2023

The Watermedia Showcase awards original art created primarily with water-based media (watercolor, acrylic, casein, gouache, or egg tempera) on a surface created for water media. Judged by the editors of Watercolor Artist, all winners, and honorable mentions will have their work featured in the magazine.

Enter now


Jackson's Painting Prize

Prize: £6,000 first prize
Entry Fee: £5 per entry.
Requirements: Open to international artists of all ages.
Closing Date: March 1, 2023

Jackson's Painting Prize was created to reward excellence in two-dimensional works of fine art. Both painting and drawing media are accepted and in addition to the main prize, there are also awards for emerging artists, best watercolor, and people's choice. Entries open December 1, 2022 and close March 1, 2023.

Enter now


Digital Art Contests


The Lumen Prize for Digital Art

Prize: $4,000 first prize, with a $13,500 total prize fund.
Entry Fee: $40 for two works ($32 for two works if submitted prior to March 24).
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: June 3, 2023

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. Categories include Still, Moving Image, XR, 3D/Interactive and Artificial Intelligence. In 2023, there is even an award for NFT art. Several awards categories are also rewarded with artist residencies and exhibitions in addition to the cash prize.

Find out more.


animago Award

Prize: €3,000 cash prize for Best Young Production, all nominees provided lodging and tickets to animago.
Entry Fee: Free
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: TBD

For over 20 years the prestigious animago Award competition has spotlighted talent in the fields of 3d animation and stills, visual effects, visualization, and design. Organized by the German magazine Digital Production, all winners are announced during a gala at the annual animago conference in Munich, Germany. Though, due to the pandemic, animago has not taken place since 2019, artists are still encouraged to submit their work for the next time that the conference occurs.

Enter now


Illustration Contests

Art Contests

Photo: rawpixel


World Illustration Awards

Prize: A cash prize of £2,000 and more publicity opportunities.
Entry Fee: £29 (approximately $33)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: February 14, 2023

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 an invitation to the Awards Evening in October.

Enter now


Society of Illustrators Annual Competition

Prize: Medals, work published in a full-color catalog and displayed in an exhibition.
Entry Fee: $20 for members ($35 for non-members)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: TBD

The Society of Illustrators Annual Competition is known as the premier showcase for illustrators and animators. Open to artists worldwide, work can be entered in one of the six categories: Editorial, Book, Advertising, Institutional, Uncommissioned, and Surface/ Product Design. 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. In addition to the entry fee, there is a hanging/publication fee of $90 for non-members and $80 for members.

Enter now


Drawing Contests

Drawing of a Person

Photo: Stock Photos from Iuliia Tarabanova/Shutterstock


Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing

Prize: $2,000 first prize, $1,000 second prize
Entry Fee: $45 ($35 before March 22, 2021)
Requirements: Open to artists in the United States and Canada.
Closing Date: April 29, 2023

The Strokes of Genius Competition celebrates original work made in drawing mediums; including pencil, charcoal, Conté crayon, pen and ink, scratchboard, silverpoint, colored pencil, pastels, and even some wet paint mediums if used in a linear or sketchy manner. Winning entries plus an additional 85+ finalists will be published in a special edition publication, The Best of Drawing, from the editors of Artists Magazine.

Enter now


General Art Contests

Art Contests

Photo: Pixabay via Pexels

Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize

Prize: Over $50,000 in cash and prizes to be won (overall winner receives $10,000 to develop their practice). Plus global exposure through Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s 1 million+ social media community, along with website and print editorial. Winners will also participate in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine’s prestigious group exhibition at Haven Gallery in New York later this year.
Entry Fee: $40 per entry (artists can enter up to 10 times)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in the representational visual arts.
Closing Date: midnight PT on July 17, 2023

The Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize, now in its 6th year, is an annual non-acquisitive international art prize that celebrates diversity and excellence in the representational visual arts. It includes all static mediums including Traditional Art media, Digital Art media, and Photographic media; and all styles from realism and hyperrealism to pop surrealism and lowbrow. The Prize seeks to inspire creatives from around the world to pursue a life and career in the arts, and to help careers grow through funding and increased exposure of their work to galleries, collectors, and media, globally.

Enter now


Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition

Prize: Over $29,000 in cash prizes and publication in Artists Magazine.
Entry Fee: $40 ($35 if submitted before April 3)
Requirements: Open to artists over 18 worldwide working in a traditional medium.
Closing Date: May 30, 2023

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 January/February 2023 issue of Artists Magazine.

Enter now


The Sunny Art Prize

Prize: A total cash fund of £6,000 plus a month-long art residency in China, and a solo exhibition in London.
Entry Fee: £25 for one artwork, up to £45 for four artworks.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide age 18 and over.
Closing Date: June 30, 2023

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


Made in California Competition

Prize: $750 first prize, $500 second prize.
Entry Fee: $20 per entry
Requirements: Open to artists based in California.
Closing Date: February 16, 2023

Hosted by the Brea Gallery, the Made in California Competition provides a promotional opportunity for all artists based in the state of California. All mediums will be considered. And, in addition to the juried competition, there is also a solo show opportunity for artists who submit a body of work containing 5-10 pieces (the entry for the solo show is $80, and the prize is $350).

Enter now


This article has been edited and updated.

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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