11 of the Best Art Competitions to Enter in 2020

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. With so much to choose from, we’ve created a guide to help you decide which competitions are best suited to you.

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

Art Contests

Photo: Daian Gan


BP Portrait Award

Prize: £35,000 first prize, and a total prize fund of £74,000.
Entry Fee: Free.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide age 18 and over.
Closing Date: December 11, 2019

Believed to be the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world, the BP Portrait Award is in its 41st year. As well as generous cash prizes, the contest aims to support the careers of the winning portrait artists by giving them the chance to exhibit at the famous National Portrait Gallery in London. Submissions must be painted in oil, tempera, or acrylic on canvas or board. Works on paper will not be considered.

Enter now


AcrylicWorks 8

Prize: $2,000 first prize, $1,000 second prize.
Entry Fee: $35 ($30 before January 31, 2020).
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in acrylic.
Closing Date: February 28, 2020

For the AcrylicWorks 8 competition, the organizers are looking for the best in acrylic painting over a variety of styles and subjects. Winners will be asked to write about their painting in relation to this year’s theme: Strokes of Genius, Splash. This could be interpreted through your creative or technical process, materials, or artistic inspiration. Winners’ works will be featured in Artists Magazine.

Enter now


Splash 21

Prize: $2,000 first prize, $1,000 second prize.
Entry Fee: $45 ($35 before December 30, 2019).
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: January 15, 2020

For the Splash 21 contest, Artists Network is looking for watercolor paintings that capture a specific mood. This year's theme is ‘The Creative Spark' and artists are expected to submit work that reflect excellence and originality in capturing this concept. No matter the style or subject, the ability to evoke a feeling or emotion is a powerful ability that the team believes deserves special recognition. Each entry must be rendered predominantly with watercolor; however, some minor use of other mediums may be acceptable. Top winners and a selection of other winners will appear in a special edition of Watercolor Artist magazine.

Enter now


Digital Art Contests


The Lumen Prize for Digital Art

Prize: $4,000 first prize, with a $11,000 total prize fund.
Entry Fee: $48 for two works, $24 for each additional work.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.
Closing Date: May 6, 2020

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. Finalists are also eligible for the People’s Choice Award and the Lumen Gold award and all women finalists are eligible for the Rapoport Award for Women in Art and Technology.

Entries open February 15, 2020. 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: July 31, 2020

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.

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 18, 2020

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—an event on every illustration agency and publisher’s calendar! New for 2020 is the Innovation Award, which will go to one project displaying “considerable innovation and experimentation with the art form.”

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 ($25 for non-members)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide.

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. The 2020 Annual Competition will accept entries starting late summer/early fall, 2020. In addition to the entry fee, there is a hanging/publication fee of $90 for non-members and $80 for members.

Enter now


General Art Contests

Art Contests

Photo: Pexels


Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize

Prize: Over $35,000 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 Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco later this year.
Entry Fee: $40 per entry (artists can submit up to 10 artworks)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in the representational visual arts.
Closing Date: July 17, 2020

The Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize is an annual non-acquisitive international art prize that celebrates diversity and excellence in the representational visual arts. In 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: $24,000 in cash prizes and publication in Artists Magazine.
Entry Fee: Regular Division: $35 per image. Student/ Beginner Division: $15 per image.
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in a traditional medium.
Closing Date: May 1, 2020.

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 2021 issue of Artists Magazine.

Enter now


Future Generation Art Prize

Prize: $60,000 cash prize and $40,000 investment in winner's art practice. Winners exhibited at the Venice Biennale.
Entry Fee: Free
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide between 18 and 35 years old.
Closing Date: May 2020

This major art prize is open to young artists working in any medium and provides a huge boost in getting an art career off the ground. Established by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in 2009, the prize has an international jury that selects a shortlist of 20 artists, who will have their work exhibited at a special display during the Venice Biennale. Entries open in February 2020.

Enter now.


The Sunny Art Prize

Prize: A total cash fund of over $7,000 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, 2020

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


Remember, practice makes perfect! If you’re eager to share your art and get immediate feedback from other art lovers, show off your work in our Art, Design, Photography, and Drawing Club.


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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