Why not make it one of your new year’s resolutions to apply for an award or competition? If you have designed, made or painted something that you are pleased with, be brave and enter it for a prize. Put the dates in your diary and set time aside to fill in those nasty entry forms. Just give it a go – you’ve got very little to lose.

Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Business Award winners 2012

Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. Each winner was given a full page interview in the Wilts and Glos Standard.


Why is is important to be shortlisted (or even win!) awards, bursaries and competitions or to get into open exhibitions?


  • You are getting the seal of approval from key influencers like curators.
  • This endorsement alone means that your standard is defined and it sends a message to galleries and critics that you must be taken seriously.
  • Winning a prize can help your career and ease you into a commercial gallery, a teaching position, a publicly funded exhibition or a scholarship.
  • The cash can buy you a little time to just concentrate on your practice alone.
  • It looks great on the CV
  • The press coverage gets you noticed by all the right people. The press loves a good story – this is an opportunity for them to write an article about an interesting person alongside quality images.


The UK boasts hundreds of prizes and opens – here are just a few that emerging artists could try for in 2011:


Jerwood Applied Arts

John Moore's Painting Prize

New Contemporaries

Mark Tanner Sculpture Award

The Jarman Award

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award

Jerwood Painting Fellowships

Jerwood Drawing Prize

Jerwood Sculpture Prize

Daiwa Foundation Art Prize

Lynn Painter-Stainers Award

Discerning Eye Drawing Bursary

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

BP Portrait Award

The Society of Portrait Sculptors

RA Summer Exhibition

Bulldog Bursary

The Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture

BITE: Artists making Prints

The Open West

National Open Art Competition, Chichester

The Marmite Prize


Crafts people and designer-makers ought to have a look at these:

The British Council Design Entrepreneur Award

Glass Prize at New Designers

Gift of the Year Award

Jerwood Makers Open

Wesley-Barrell Craft Awards

The Innovative Design Awards

The Balvenie Masters of Craft Award

Country Living Balvenie Artisan of the Year

The Cockpits Arts Award


Here's some essential reading to help you research all of these opportunities in depth:


The Artists' Yearbook 2010/11 paperback – only £9.99 on Amazon


Artists, photographers and makers can get noticed – just do your research, plan ahead and set aside the entry fees. Be brave – someone has to get the accolade. If it doesn't happen, then just accept that it wasn't your time. The key is – don't give up and just keep trying. In a year's time, you could be holding your head a little higher, who knows....


© Tessa Webb, February 2011