Illustration by
Yulia Drobova
Illustration by
Yulia Drobova

Art and Illustration Contests to Consider Entering in 2021

Illustration and art competitions are a marvellous opportunity to grow as a professional and develop one's art career. They can be benefcial in a number of different ways – increased exposure, exhibitions, boosting self-confidence, and gaining new clients. The act of entering a competition requires a certain amount of time and thought: a reflection that helps illustrators and artists identify and establish their artistic voice. One has to take a step back and consider one's work as a whole. Whether it’s the first competition or the twentieth, evaluating and re-evaluating the body of your own work is a fundamental part of being an artist.

It's always a good idea to plan a little bit ahead, so here is a list of competitions for you to consider entering in 2021 organised by month. This list will be updated throughout the year.


Communication Arts Illustration Competition 2021

Prizes: Winners will be featured in the Communication Arts Illustration Annual distributed worldwide, in print and digital editions
Entry Fee: Starting from $40
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide. Any illustration first published or produced from January 2020 through January 2021 is eligible
Closing Date: The deadline will be extended two weeks after January 8, 2021, but a late entry fee of $10 per submission will be required. No entries will be accepted after January 22, 2021

The Communication Arts Illustration Competition is a competition for creativity in illustration.Selected by a nationally representative jury of distinguished designers, art directors and illustrators, the winning entries are distributed worldwide in the Communication Arts Illustration Annual, in print and digital editions. Each winning entrant will receive a personalised Award of Excellence and award certificates issued for firms, individuals and clients. Communication Arts has been publishing the best in visual communications from around the world since 1959. Find out more

Royal Society of British Artists Competition

Prizes: A prize fund of over £5,000(GBP), an exhibition at Mall Galleries
Entry Fee:
£18(GBP) per work, £12(GBP) if under 35 (max 6 artworks)
Requirements: UK and international artists (18+), painters, sculptors and printmakers are invited to submit work in any medium including sculpture and original prints
Closing Date: January 8, 2021

The Royal Society of British Artists invites painters, sculptors and printmakers to submit their work for consideration to be shown in the Society’s Annual Exhibition 2021. As well as skill and draughtsmanship, they will be looking for originality and creativity. Find out more

Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2021

Prizes: Prize fund of £10,000(GBP)
Entry Fee: £20 for first artwork, then £10(GBP) per additional artworks
Requirements: Open to emerging artists worldwide working in all mediums
Closing Date:
17th January 2021

The Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize will be awarded to artists that show significant potential, interesting ideas, a relevant message and skilful execution. The award is created for emerging artists of all ages and career paths, whether student, graduate, full-time or part-time, and from any country. Entering its seventh year, with an increased prize fund of £10,000, the Ashurst Prize is open to artists working across all genres, styles and backgrounds. Find out more


World Illustration Awards

Prizes: A cash prize of £2,000 and publicity
Entry Fee:  £29 (GBP) per Single Entry and £49 (GBP) per Multiple
Requirements: The competition is open worldwide to illustrators over the age of 18
Closing Date: 15 February, 2021

Anyone who’s into illustration is bound to have heard of the prestigious World Illustration Awards. Illustrators are invited to submit work created or published since January 2018 to 8 different categories. Winners will not only win a cash prize, but they’ll also be awarded a global exposure, such as a marketing package in the Directory of Illustration, a feature in a major exhibition in central London, and an invitation to the Awards Evening in October — an event on every illustration agency and publisher’s calendar! This year, they “will especially celebrate the resilience of illustrators and the industry, particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Find out more


Jackson’s Painting Prize 2021

Prizes: Jackson’s Painting Prize: £6000 (GBP), Emerging Artist Award: £1000 (GBP),standing Watercolour Award: £500 (GBP), Jackson’s voucher People’s Choice Award: £500(GBP)
Entry Fee:  £5 (GBP) per Artwork
Requirements: The competition is open worldwide to artists at any point of their career. Artists may submit artworks in any painting or drawing media. Up to a total of 5 artworks can be submitted.
Closing Date:
02 March, 2021

Jackson’s Painting Prize exists to champion exceptional artworks made by international creators at all points in their careers, with tailored prizes aimed to give successful applicants the exposure and resources that are most relevant to them Find out more

Illustrated Silent Book Contest

Prizes: The winning book project of the Silent Book Contest 2021 will be published by October 2021 by Carthusia Edizioni of Milan, Italy. The publisher will add it and promote it as part of its editorial catalogue. The author will sign a regular publishing contract and receive a cash prize of € 4.000, as advance on the royalties.
Entry Fee:  €50  for each book project
Requirements: The competition is open worldwide to illustrators over the age of 18. It is possible to participate with 1 to a maximum of 3 unpublished projects. The book project must not contain words, with exclusion of the title and possible subtitle.The narration must be realised exclusively through the illustrations and have narrative and stylistic coherence. There are no limits regarding age or reader group, and the subject matter is open.
Closing Date: 5th March 2021

International Illustrated Silent Book Contest 2021 is dedicated to illustrated books without words, it invites authors and illustrators to think up and design a book telling a story only through illustrated images, on any subject and intended for a wide and diverse section of the reading public, regardless of genre or age. Find out more

BO it! Imagining Bologna: International illustration competition

Prizes: 1st Prize “City of Bologna”: € 1,200, 2nd Prize “Città dei Portici”: € 600, 3rd Prize “Maimeri”: fine art supplies based on the technique used by the candidate
Entry Fee: No entry fee
Participants are asked to create an illustration, a graphic interpretation or a decorative motif within or outside (or both) the outline of a monument or icon, provided in an annex to the call
Closing Date:
15 March, 2021

BO it! is a cultural initiative promoted by the associations Il Civico 32 and MenoPerMeno in Bologna, that aims to enhance the city of Bologna through an artistic and creative interpretation of the icons that identify it, invites everyone to participate, redesigning the image of a rapidly changing, increasingly international, multi-ethnic and culturally rich city. One of the goals of BO it! is to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities and migrants, by providing them, through training activities and dedicated tools to access the call, the opportunity to give their contribution to an artistic vision of the city of Bologna. Find out more

Illustration category at ADC 100th Annual Awards

Prizes: Outstanding entrants are selected by highly respected juries, and honoured with coveted Gold, Silver and Bronze Cubes, presented at the Annual Awards Gala. Beyond these Cubes, however, ADC Annual Awards winners join a rich legacy of past honorees that include some of the most influential artists of the past century.
Entry Fee:
Freelancers: $100.00 Single / $150.00 Series
Open for creatives from all over the world. All submitted entries must have been printed, published, aired or broadcast live online for the first time between 1st January 2019 and 26th March 2021
Closing Date:
March 12, 2021

The ADC Annual Awards, part of The One Club for Creativity, is the oldest continuously running industry award show in the world. Now heading into its 100th year, these Awards celebrate the very best in advertising, digital media, graphic and publication design, packaging and product design, motion, experiential and spatial design, photography, illustration and fashion design all with a focus on artistry and craftsmanship. Find out more


Artists Magazine's Annual Art Competition

Prize: $24,000 in cash prizes and a publication in Artists Magazine
Entry Fee: Regular fee: $35 per image. Student/Beginner fee: $15 per image
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in a traditional medium
Closing Date: May, 2021 (exact date TBD)

Artists Magazine’s Annual Art Competition celebrates traditional 2D artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, mixed media, printmaking, digital art, and much more. Winners will be chosen from a variety of categories including Portrait/Figure, Still Life, Landscape, Abstract, and Animal/Wildlife. Along with generous cash prizes, this contest provides an opportunity to gain exposure in the April 2022 issue of Artists Magazine. Find out more


Golden Pinwheel Competition

Prize: An invitation to the 2021 Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair, with economy class air tickets and accommodation fully covered by the event organiser, trophy and certificate; Golden Pinwheel Illustration Special Mentions (for three recipients) with a certificate; People’s Choice Award (one winner) selected by CCBF’s visitors, exhibitors, and social media followers will get a trophy and a certificate
Entry Fee:
The participation is free of charge
Requirements: Open for illustrators worldwide, applicants must be between 16 and 39 years of age. Entries can be sent by individual artists, schools, associations and other third-party organisations.There are no limits to the entry theme and content provided that is it suitable for children’s book illustration. The competition accepts works executed with manual, digital or mixed techniques. To enter the competition, the participant must submit a series of five pieces of illustrations under the same theme.
Closing Date:
End of June (exact date TBD)

The Golden Pinwheel Young Illustrators Competition is an international illustration contest held annually as a special event of the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF), with the support of the Shanghai Press and Publication Administration. Since its creation in 2015, the competition is providing a venue for emerging illustrators to showcase their talent. It aims to build bridges between them and children’s publishers. Find out more

The Lumen Prize For Digital Art

Prize: $4,000 first prize, with a $11,500 total prize fund
Entry Fee: $48 for two works, $24 for each additional work
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide
Closing Date: June 8, 2021

This digital art competition is organised by Lumen Art Projects Ltd, a non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to providing new opportunities for digital artists around the world. Find out more


Animago Award

Prize: €3,000 cash prize for Best Young Production, all nominees provided lodging and tickets to Animago
Entry Fee: Free
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide
Closing Date: July 31, 2021

For over 20 years the prestigious Animago Award competition has spotlighted talent in the fields of 3d animation and stills, visual effects, visualization, and design. Organized by the German magazine Digital Production, all winners are announced during a gala at the annual Animago conference in Munich, Germany. Find out more


Society of Illustrators Annual Competition

Prize: Medals, work published in a full colour catalog and displayed in an exhibition.
Entry Fee: $20 for members ($35 for non-members)
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide
Closing Date: October 30, 2021

The Society of Illustrators Annual Competition is known as the premier showcase for illustrators and animators. Open to artists worldwide, work can be entered in one of the six categories: Editorial, Book, Advertising, Institutional, Uncommissioned, and Surface/ Product Design. The selected entries will be exhibited at the Society of Illustrators’ gallery in New York City and be printed in full colour in their annual catalog. Find out more

Tapirulan Illustrators Contest

Prize: First prize awarded by the jury is €2500, the winner is also awarded a solo exhibition at the Tapirulan Gallery and the publication of the personal catalogue. The contest also has a Popular Prize of €500
Entry Fee: €15
Requirements: Open to artists worldwide working in any medium.
Closing Date: October, 2021(date TBD)

Artists of all nationalities can participate in the competition. There is no age limit however underage candidates need parents’ authorisation. Every candidate is allowed to submit only one brand-new work. Works which have been awarded prizes previously will not be accepted. Find out more

Bologna Children's Book Competition

Bologna Children's Book Fair Exhibition photo by Olga Epikhina

Prize: Winners will enjoy widespread visibility on the international stage. Their works will be published in the Illustrators Annual (published in Italy, USA, Japan, China and South Korea) and will be included in the Exhibition’s two-year world tour. In addition, the artists selected for the Exhibition will be offered other opportunities: participation in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundación SM International Award for Illustration (for artists under 35).The Award offers the winner a cheque for $15,000 in order to give the resources for a year to develop a picture book to be published and released on the world market by the Spanish publisher SM. The original illustrations of the book are presented to the next edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair at a personal exhibition dedicated to the winner.The winners will also participate in the selection of an artist to develop the next BCBF’s visual identity.
Closing Date: November 2021(exact date TBD)

Every year the Bologna Children's Book Fair is the place to be for the most coveted international awards in the world of children's publishing. The Illustrators Exhibition is a unique international venue showcasing the latest trends in illustration for children and young adults. Each year the fair organises a competition for illustrators, with a list of selected candidates gaining worldwide exposure and the winners having an opportunity to publish a children's book and design the corporate identity for the fair next year.


Olga Epikhina

Olga is a commercial illustrator from Russia currently living in Berlin, Germany. She firmly believes in the circulation of ideas and collaboration with like-minded creatives. Olga works with a range of analog and digital media.

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