Art-focused high school students need to stand out in college admissions when it comes to art school. One way to make your college profile special is to stand out in online art competitions. Since you can usually submit from anywhere, it’s a great way to earn recognition for your work. Let’s learn how to find competitions and what their requirements might be!
To start you off…
We’ve pulled together a variety of art competitions for you to apply to, varying in competitive levels and affiliated with a variety of sponsors. All are online, as many activities are, especially after COVID quarantine measures. There are tons of advantages to this, including more flexibility in location for all students looking to submit!
Not all competition rules have been updated for this cycle yet, which falls between X and Y, so you’ll want to check in again this winter to see the most updated dates and deadlines. Feel free to bookmark this page; you’ll find a link to each of the competitions discussed. As you work on developing your artistic portfolio and creating new pieces, investigate which fits you best! The art medium and submission rules vary widely, as well, so take a little time to fully read through the submission guidelines provided.
Ages: 16+ years old
“Artists Network invites beginner and advanced artists to submit their most outstanding artwork in five different categories, including portraits and figures; still lifes and interiors; landscapes; abstract and experimental art; and wildlife, for the chance to win exposure and prizes.
Entries must be submitted online, and the deadline each year is in mid-May.
This art contest gives away thousands of dollars in cash prizes, publicity including publication in Artists Magazine, and scholarships to improve your art.”
Ages: 7th-12th grade
“The nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were founded in 1923 and, for nearly a century, have inspired bold ideas in creative teens throughout the country.”
Ages: 9th-12th grade
“This competition is open to high school students in the 19 Western states and three U.S.-flag islands whose Governors participate in the bipartisan Western Governors’ Association. Students must create two-dimensional works inspired by their state, drawing upon sources such as state history, landmarks, natural resources, parks, monuments, communities, and culture, etc.”
Ages: 9th-12th grade
“Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated.
Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners earn recognition both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC. The winning works are on display for one year at the U.S. Capitol.”
Ages: 9th-12th grade
“FAA High School Competition is sponsored by the College of Fine and Applied Arts in Illinois. The competition invites students to “demonstrate their talents and earn opportunities to explore the wide variety of classes and majors offered within the College of Fine and Applied Arts.” If enrolled in the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts, the winning senior will receive $1,000 to be applied toward their first-year college expenses. The winning freshman/sophomore/junior for each competition will receive one scholarship to attend an FAA summer program.”
Ages: 11-19 years old
“Science without Borders Challenge invites students to create art to promote public awareness of the need to preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources. The top 3 winners will receive a $500, $350, or $200 prize.
Medium: Acceptable media includes paint, pencil, marker, crayon, ink, felt, and oil pastel. Digitally created artwork, including photographs, is not accepted. The artwork must be 2D, such as a painting or drawing.”
Ages: 13-18 years old
“We are seeking writers to submit:
- Fiction – Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.
- Novel Excerpts – Novel and memoir excerpts are acceptable if self-contained (work as a complete narrative).
- Poetry – You may submit more than one poem, but please do not exceed 5 pages worth of poetry.
- Plays – Please follow the standard play format. Limit to 10 pages.
- Nonfiction – Essays, memoirs, creative nonfiction. Please limit submissions to 5,000 words.
- New Media – Video, images, etc. fine for the website. But must be accompanied by a written version to be considered for print and eBook.
- Cross-genre – Experimental work (prose poems, art and writing, fiction and nonfiction hybrids) are highly encouraged, but please keep to the word limit for fiction.”
Ages: 15-18 years old, or 10th-12th grades
“Are you a visual, literary, design, or performing artist? Apply to YoungArts’ national art competition. Artists across 10 disciplines come together and earn a chance to win cash awards, receive mentorships from accomplished artists, receive lifetime professional support, and achieve national recognition.
Artists are welcome to apply in the discipline of their choice: Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice, and Writing. Finalists of the competitions receive invitations to National YoungArts Week, an intensive, week-long all-expense-paid program in Miami. Finalists are eligible for financial awards of up to $10,000, as well as for nomination as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.”
Ages: 7-15 years old
“The Japan Quality Assurance Organization and International Certification Organization Network, in partnership with UNICEF Tokyo, have hosted the International Environmental Children’s Drawing Contest since 1999. The competition provides children with an opportunity to think about the environment in an appreciative and sensitive way. Entries must be hand-drawn artwork.”
Ages: 9-18 years old
“Never Such Innocence is an international art, poetry, speech, and song competition for young students. The competition invites students to submit artwork to share their reflections on conflict or give a voice to those who may not have one.?
Medium: Any medium such as watercolors, pastels, charcoals, pencils, acrylic, crayons, paper cuttings, oil paints, photography, or digital media.”
Ages: All ages
“The competition that started it all! Architizer’s One Drawing Challenge was the platform’s first ideas competition dedicated to architectural representation and is now open for pre-registration for its exciting fourth year. The immense popularity of this One X competition reflects our community’s profound love of drawing in all its many forms — from plans, sections, and elevations to parallel projects, sketches, and even abstracts.”
Ages: All ages
“The United Nations invites ordinary citizens to participate in different competitions throughout the year, from photography, artwork, and cartoons to video competitions. Each competition hopes to raise awareness about a particular topic about the world and its surrounding issues.?
Medium: Varies, check each competition.”
Ages: K-12th grades
“CelebratingArt seeks to motivate and reward children by having them enter the CelebratingArt contest for the chance to have their work published in a book. Paintings, computer art, sculptures, or drawings by any student from grades K-12 in the USA may be entered in the competition.
Medium: any medium that can have a still digital image (painting sculpture, drawing, collage, etc).”
As you can see, there are a wide variety of art competitions where high school students can submit artwork online. Whether you’ve recently picked up a new artistic hobby during your time at home or want to earn more recognition to help your long-anticipated art school application stand out, there are solid options to fulfill your goals. Consider these opportunities as ways to excel in the art field!
For more information on how to shape your hobbies and interests for the best outcomes in the college admissions process, consider working with an independent college counselor like Empowerly. From developing your extracurricular narrative to creating your very best essays, our team of experts collectively works on the shared goal of student excellence—and we can’t wait to meet you and your student!