Art competitions are a great way for artists to promote themselves and their artwork with the chance for exposure, exhibitions and even cash prizes. Thousands of art competitions in America are taking place in 2023 with a focus on painting, textiles ceramics, photography, sculpture and digital art.
A few tips before you get started
Pick the right competition
There are thousands of art competitions out there. Entering them all would be more than a full-time job, leaving you no time to create the entries. Some are about prestige, some about exhibitions, other commissions, and a few have large cash or valuable prizes.
If you have never done a competition, try something local or specific to your style or medium. The competition will be friendlier and less fierce.
Is it a money-spinner?
Some competitions—many of them online—are set up to make a profit. The entrance fees will often be high (and judging standards low), with further expenses added along the way to actually show your work. These competitions often carry lower prestige within the art world. That being said, you might consider spending $100 to get your work in an online exhibition worth the price tag.
Visit the individual competition pages via the links provided below to you start your entry. They will have up-to-date information on fees, closing dates and any requirements for attending in-person exhibitions.
It’s not always about the money
Some competitions boast about their generous prize fund. But for others, the prestige or an opportunity to exhibit your work may be more valuable to your career as an artist than a few thousand or hundred dollars in prize money.
Where do the art competitions take place?
America is a big place, but following the Covid-19 pandemic, many art galleries have embraced online exhibitions. This is great for artists who want to exhibit in venues thousands of miles away.
Artweb’s picks for best 2023 art competitions in America
13th Annual Seascapes Online Art Competition
The Light, Space & Time Online Art Gallery runs monthly competitions for inclusion in its online gallery. Each month has a different theme—for example, June’s exhibition is their annual Seascapes competition. This competition is open to artists working in 2D and 3D, including photography and digital art, and the theme of seascape art can include scenes of coastal living, ocean activities, seaside vistas and any related seashore subjects.
- Deadline: May 27, 2023
- More info: https://lightspacetime.art/13th-annual-seascapes-art-competition-2023/
Surrealism can get the cold shoulder from other competitions, but this New York gallery exhibition is looking for surreal and out-of-the-ordinary figurative art forms. An exhibition at the Limner Gallery in September awaits the winner. If you have an original approach to portraiture, their A Show of Heads competition (closing July 31) may also appeal.
- Deadline: June 30, 2023
- More info: http://www.limnergallery.com/prospectus/index.htm
A competition designed to develop and support young artists, this visual, literary, and performing art contest is aimed at artists aged 15 to 18 years old. There are ten disciplines covered including music, writing and the visual arts. Alongside cash prizes up to $10,000, there are mentorship and professional support opportunities to help winners develop a career in the arts.
- Deadline: October 13, 2023
- More info: https://youngarts.org/apply/
The Teravarna Art Gallery Landscape Annual Art Competition
This LA-based gallery is a regular in the competition circuit with events running throughout the year focusing on different disciplines. In the Landscape Annual, there are cash awards of $3,500 and a gallery exhibition. There’s also a range of Certificates of Recognition for entries.
Mediums include painting, sculpture, digital, printmaking, fiber, photography, graphic, mixed media and installation.
- Deadline: May 15, 2023
- More info: https://www.teravarna.com/
NYAC – New York Art Competitions
Chelsea International Fine Art Competition offers more than $70,000 in prizes. This is open to a wide variety of disciplines including sculpture, painting, photography, mixed media, drawing and print. Similarly, the Chelsea International Photography Competition offers over $55,000 in prizes and is open to photographers at any stage of their career.
These competitions are part of the New York Art Competitions, which hosts four annual international art contests to promote artists’ careers and bring their work to a bigger audience. This website is definitely one to add to your bookmarks.
- Deadline: May 16, 2023 for Fine Art | October 24, 2023 for Photography
- More info: https://nyartcompetitions.com/
Fine Art America Online Art Competitions
Keep your eye of Fine Art America Online throughout the year. They have regular online competitions that can pad your artist CV with various themes from floral painting to Christmas cards. Wait for a subject that suits your medium and style before you enter. Some contests have cash prizes, but many offer online promotional opportunities. Members of the site can start a new competition at any time so join their newsletter and bookmark the site.
- Deadline: Ongoing
- More info: https://fineartamerica.com/contests.html
ALL Abstraction Contemporary Art Gallery Online
Abstract art can find it hard to make its mark in competitions, so this is quite a big event for abstract artists. ALL Abstraction is open to 2D and 3D artists whose work meets the definition of abstraction (see our blog here What is Non-representational Art?).
This is another one that looks good on the CV. Entrants get an online group exhibition for thirty days. There are three categories: painting, photography and mixed media/3D work. Visit their website for a varied list of competition categories.
- Deadline: June 18, 2023
- More info: https://www.contemporaryartgalleryonline.gallery/2023-art-competition-abstraction
Specialist arts and artist-focused publications are a great resource for competitions, and the Artists Magazine has one of the largest collections of competition opportunities. Created by the Artists Network, a membership website, the competitions are generally open to non-members as well. There are themed contests based on media type and subject matter.
If you join the network, you can enter competitions early and get access to an extensive magazine archive and a growing series of how-to videos.
- Deadline: Ongoing
- More info: https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-competitions/
This competition combines an open studio concept with gallery exhibitions over a period of 18 days in the fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize boasts of having the largest contemporary art audience in the world. The event brings art lovers, gallerists and artists together and turns the area into one big art trail.
Artists connect with venues to show their work. Venues vary from museums and galleries, bars and restaurants, parks and hotels. The public decide the winners of $400,000 in prizes, including a $125,000 grand prize. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. Expect the competition to be fierce!
- Deadline: Ongoing
- More info: https://www.artprize.org/
Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize
The Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize, now in its 6th year, lives up to its name by celebrating diversity (and excellence) in art. It is also one of the few art competitions that accepts digital art and photographic media, in addition to traditional static art mediums. The bizarre refers to art styles that can include realism, hyperrealism, pop surrealism and lowbrow. There are several categories including an emerging artist prize.
More than $50,000 is on offer in cash and prizes as well as coverage in the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine and website. Winners take part in the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine prestigious group exhibition at Haven Gallery in New York later this year.
- Deadline: July 17, 2023
- More info: https://beautifulbizarreartprize.art/enter-beautiful-bizarre-art-prize/
Society of Illustrators Annual Competition
The Society of Illustrators Annual Competition showcases often illustrators and animators. Work can be entered in one of the six categories with entries selected to exhibit at the Society of Illustrators’ gallery in New York.
- Deadline: To be announced
- More info: https://societyillustrators.org/annual-exhibition/
PleinAir Salon Art Competition
Favored by Claude Monet, en plein air is simply “painting outside.” This means capturing the vista alongside the atmosphere. PleinAir magazine hosts monthly painting competitions that award artists across a variety of painting mediums.
There are 19 categories to select from, including (perhaps ironically) studio painting. The winners will be showcased in PleinAir magazine, and all winners and finalists will have their work promoted online. Monthly winners are entered in an annual competition to win $15,000 and the cover of PleinAir magazine.
- Deadline: Monthly deadlines
- More info: https://pleinairsalon.com/
If you have missed the competition entries for these art competitions in America for 2023, add them to your calendar for next year. Most competitions will take place annually with similar closing dates.