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Best Tips for Entering Art Competitions

painting exhibition header for Best tips for art competitions blog

These are our Best Tips for entering Art Competitions. We have tried to be as clear and concise as possible. There is certainly a lot to think about and we hope this comprehensive list will make it easier for you. Also we hope it gets you prepared and organised for what is involved with entering Art Competitions.

Entering art competitions can be a great way to raise your profile and lead to more opportunities. Though never look at it as an isolated promotion, consider what else you can gain from the exposure and make sure you are prepared and ready if you win the competition, to make the most of it.

Remember to be realistic in your expectations and sometimes it can come down to timing, ie. your submitted artwork captures perfectly the mood of the moment, this is something you can’t predict, but it’s great when it happens!

portrait painting of Jack Hudleston by Rupert Alexander Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2021 winner

©Rupert Alexander ‘Jack Hudleston’ Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2021 Winner of Burke’s Peerage Foundation Award for Classically Inspired Portraiture

A Good Digital Image file of your artwork

Being a fine art printer we know how important it is to have a good digital image file of your artwork. Especially if you want to create giclée prints of your artwork. Therefore it makes sense to have your work photographed, this way you have a digital image ready to start earning you extra income, from giclée print sales.

If your artwork wins an award in an art competition, then you’ll be raising your profile and the profile of the artwork. It is wise to be ready for any extra income you can make from a popular image. At The Artists Print Room we specialise in photographing your artworks and turning them into fine art giclée prints. You can also supply your own digital image file (print-ready file) for us to create giclée prints from. We can also edit your image file. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss this further or need our technical services.


Check out our Blog  Artists Printing – What you need to know about online giclée printing for more information.




15 of our Best Tips for Entering Art Competitions
  1. Research the Art Competition. Make sure it is right for you and the type of work you create. Check the previous winners and if possible attend an exhibition before entering. That way you’ll get a feel if it’s right for you.
  2. Don’t change your art to suit a competition. Remain true to your style, technique and subject matter. If you do well in a competition you’ll be receiving a lot of attention to the platform where you showcase your art. It will only confuse your potential buyers if your winning art is nothing like your actual collection of art.
  3. Read the rules and terms and conditions. Read them through more than once, at different times. It’s surprising what you can pick up on a second read through. If you don’t like the terms, then maybe you shouldn’t enter the competition. Remember to follow the rules.
  4. Check the copyright. Most competitions state the copyright remains with the artist and your digital image will only be used for promotion of the exhibition and possible future exhibitions. If the organisers want to sell giclée prints of your work or print your image on products, then a licence can be agreed between you and the organisers. There are some competitions, where the organisers say they retain the copyright of your work. At The Artists Print Room we consider this bad practice and would discourage you from entering a competition under these unfair terms. There is no need for this, as a license serves both you and the organisers fairly.
  5. Check Insurance. Check to see if your work is insured by the organisers. Ensure every care is taken to look after and keep your work safe. If you are a member of the Society for All Artists (SAA) you can be covered for exhibition insurance, the type and amount is dependent on your type of membership. This is especially important if your artwork is of a high price.
  6. Plan ahead. Allow yourself plenty of time to create the work, you want to submit. Decide a title for the work, don’t leave it to the last minute and don’t title it ‘001’, it adds nothing to the work. You’d be amazed how many artworks we receive giclée print orders for, with this title. It can be hard to keep track of them all!
  7. Put your costs together. Firstly assess the cost to produce the work ie. the materials and time taken to produce the work and the framing costs involved. You may need to pay or buy equipment to photograph your work (this needs to be considered a long-term investment cost) . Next look at the costs for transporting works to and from the exhibition. Finally bear in mind competition organisers charge a commission fee for artworks that sell at the exhibition. Putting your costs together will help you work out a selling price of your artwork. It is great to make a sale and also cover your costs. You should value the work you create and price your work to at least cover your costs. Don’t have two selling prices for your artwork, one for a competition and one for your own selling platform. No potential buyer likes to see two different prices for the same artwork.

    watercolour painting Primrose Hill by Perry Harris

    ©Perry Harris ‘Primrose Hill’ Royal Watercolour Society 2020 Exhibition

  8. Chance of success. When you assess a potential art competition, take a look at the amount of applicants they receive, assess whether it is a very popular competition. The more applicants, the slimmer the chance of success. So be realistic in your expectations of the type of competition you enter. Also be aware that a particular artwork could be rejected one year, but be accepted the following year. It could be down to what the organisers are looking for or the particular judges they have that year.
  9. Make an impact. The judges will literally have seconds to see each digital image submitted and they will have to make a decision quickly. They will see a lot of images, so it makes sense that your work should be memorable and unique. Also bear in mind larger works generally have more impact, but check the maximum size you can submit and don’t forget about the overall size once you have added a frame.
  10. A very good digital image file, that is a very good representation of the original work. Your work will be selected, on the quality of digital image file you submit. Make sure it is to the technical requirements specified by the competition organisers.  You will need to photograph your work in good lighting and preferably using a tripod. Also make sure it is a photo of your work ONLY and does not include the frame, mount or any background. Also be aware scanning can damage oil paintings and wash out delicate watercolours. Once you have a digital image file, make sure when editing the image, it closely resembles the colours and tone of the original. Otherwise you could be disqualified, if when the judges see the original artwork, it looks nothing like the image file.
  11. Choosing frames. Make sure you follow the instructions on what type of hanging system the organisers require. It is also a good idea to keep the frame a simple design and neutral colour, unless you think a particular colour enhances the work. What you don’t want is the frame to detract from the work. Look at previous exhibitions online to see what other artists chose.
  12. Take a look at the competition judges. Usually competitions list who the judges are, it’s a good idea to have a look at them. Whether they are an artist or not, what style of art do they prefer, where does their speciality lie? If all the judges appear to be into expressionism and you are a realist painter, then maybe they won’t appreciate your style of work. If they are the same judges from previous years, check out the previous winners. It will give you a better understanding of what those particular judges like. Don’t try to change your style to suit, find the competition and judges best suited to your style instead.
  13. Make sure you have a body of work. It should represent your overall style and remember to only submit your best work. If the competition calls for more than one entry of work, then don’t submit a weak work with strong works. It will just reflect poorly on your best work. Having a body of work shows your commitment to your art and your style and makes it easier for those buyers checking you out, after seeing your work in an art competition. I.e if they liked what they saw in the art competition exhibition, then they’ll naturally want to see more like it.
  14. Remember it’s a marketing tool. Usually you’re entering an art competition to raise your profile and reach a large audience of potential buyers. Therefore it makes sense to have clear information on how you can be contacted by buyers. So ensure your website or selling platform is up to date, with your latest work. Make it easy for your buyers to find you and if you offer commissions, make sure you have clear pricing and commission procedure information readily available for your buyers. In other words make the most of the opportunity and plan ahead. Entering an art competition is just one tool of your marketing strategy. Don’t forget the impact that winning a competition can have on other areas of your marketing.
  15. Assess. Finally after you have entered a competition, make notes of what you need to change for next time and where you can improve.

Have you seen ‘Should you Enter Art Competitions’ it takes a deeper look at art competitions and how they work and what you can expect.

colourful portrait of woman on canvas giclée printFinal advice on entering art competitions

Art Competitions have categories, make sure you choose the category that best suits the work you want to submit. Ensure your work has something to say that relates to the category. Also choose your artwork title carefully, one that truly reflects what your work is trying to say. Art is very subjective and is usually bought, based on how our emotions and memories relate to the art.

We have tried to keep the tips as concise as possible, so that you don’t lose sight of what is important. If you have any suggestions you’d like to add, then please feel free to Get in touch and share your experience of entering art competitions.




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