Format Magazine's "The Best Fine Art Contests and Prizes of 2016"

For artists looking to enter competitions that are worth their wild, here's a comprehensive list of potentials provided by Format Magazine. It also does a great job summarizing the the main ideas, guidelines, deadlines, and fees involved. However, be forewarned that joining competitions may cost hundreds of dollars over the course of a year, unless you only sign up for the free ones on the list...which we have extracted for further examination below: 

Frieze Artist Award

Deadline: February 2016
Fee: None
Prize: £20,000 for project production

The Frieze Artist Award is a major opportunity to present ambitious, site-specific work as part of the Frieze Projects programme. The Award is open to UK and international artists between 25–40 years of age.

Artists are invited to propose a new work to be realized at Frieze London 2016 as part of its critically acclaimed Frieze Projects programme, produced under the guidance of curator Raphael Gygax and the Frieze Projects team. If chosen, your project is given £20,000 to be created.

Tip from StudioYU: The link to the Frieze Projects Program, where the application should be, is redirected back to the Frieze website during off season, but applications should be open in December as this 2016 press release indicates. This contest is more installation and design oriented, and geared towards UK artists.

The Academy Center of the Arts Annual National Juried Art Exhibition

Deadline: February 2016
Fee: Free
Prize: $1000 for Best in Show, plus more cash prizes

The Juried Art Exhibition is sponsored and held at The Academy Center of the Arts, which provides educational resources and community enrichment through arts initiatives. Its ultimate goal is to serve as an educational resource and improve public safety and economic development in underserved neighborhoods in the US.

Tip from StudioYU: THIS IS NOT FREE. There's a membership fee of $65, which includes a discount to enter the contest. Open to US residents only, 18 years age and up. As the link is broken, probably because it's down season, not much more can be found about the contest specifically.

The Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition

Deadline: April 2016
Fee: free
Prizes: $24,000-$100 each

The Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition awards are open to artists anywhere in the world working in traditional media. Only two-dimensional, original artwork, conceived and created by the entrant, will be considered, meaning mixed media cannot exceed an inch in depth. 

Tip from StudioYU: There is a $20-$30 per image entry fee, if you're an early bird! Clearly, this is also NOT FREE. The deadline is usually the beginning of May, notified by August for publication.


The notion of "spending money to make money" is abundantly evident in these art contest models. The words "contest" or "competition" also seem to be a euphemism for "pay us to maybe show your work." Nonetheless, there are a few gems on the list, such as ArtPrize, which waives your entry fee for the next year if you don't find a vendor who will show your work, or Southworks, where artwork is judged anonymously, "without the chains of status or reputation." Our recommendation is to always read the Terms and Conditions thoroughly before proceeding, that is, assuming your work fits their requirements. 

PS. Applications to show on StudioYU is ABSOLUTELY FREE.