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.

Thoughts on Canvas 1: Balancing business and art

We have a lot of romantic notions about the starving artist, or carefree bohemian painters, but even those of us in other careers know that most artists have to grab whatever time they can spare from jobs, family responsibilities, and the various chores of daily life. Only the lucky few get to actually spend their time making their living off of their art.

Even for those lucky few, life is not as simple as one might hope. You can’t just create a masterpiece and collect your payment. If no one sees your art, no one buys your art, and your rent goes unpaid. So successful artists have to also develop skills at marketing, self-promotion, and networking, along with their painting or sketching skills.

And today, the internet creates more opportunities for independent artists, but it also comes with a bunch of new skills to learn. Even artists who prefer to work entirely in traditional media have to learn about web design, digital file formats, online ordering and fulfillment services, and of course all the new ways to self-promote and make connections. Meanwhile, that new canvas is sitting there untouched.

This seems like a catch-22 for artists— the only way to have a career in art is to spend a lot of time not making art. So why bother? I asked one of our Studio YU artists what motivated her to keep at this endeavor. I was expecting something about the joy of the creative process, but I got a more interesting answer. For her, painting is how she connects with her thoughts and feelings and makes sense of her own mind. She really does put her thoughts on canvas. The final product of her painting can surprise her, and the joy she takes in that surprise is motivation enough to get back to the studio, no matter how any other distractions are in the way. 

We all have different reasons to seek creative expression, and we've all had to make tradeoffs to do so.  How have you found space for your art in your life?

Introducing "Thoughts on Canvas"

Part of Studio YU's mission is to help create a human connection between artists and art lovers. To help further this goal, we're going to be running a series called "Thoughts on Canvas," discussing the human aspect of art: what it means to be an artist, to work with artists, to experience art. Sometimes we will profile artists' sharing their creative process and life, sometimes we will talk about our own experiences making art or working with artists on creative projects. Sometimes we'll answer questions that you, our Studio YU patrons and blog readers, put to us. This is a chance for all of us to think about what it means to be a person living in this world and making art. 

If you have a topic you'd like us to cover, please leave your suggestion in the comments!