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Are Art Competitions Worth It?

By April 19, 2024No Comments

Lisa Skelly, is an award-winning artist, and gallery owner, a frequent art competition entrant and winner, and also our January 2024 judge! With that in mind we asked for her thoughts on this subject.

“Well, it may seem to be an obvious answer but there is more to entering than getting an award. Don’t get me wrong, an award is an amazing honor and validation of your hard work and talent. Of course it feels great to win!  What if you could grow as an artist and gain even more than the big prize by putting your proverbial ‘hat in the ring’?”

There are wonderful additional benefits to entering art competitions. Here are some things that I look to learn about my own work by contemplating these questions:

  1. Visibility as an artist: Putting your work out there consistently will get you noticed. Believe me when I enter an art competition, I’m looking at all of the other entries. Which ones are my favorite and why?
  2. Study the top award winners: What is it about those really good pieces that won them the award? Is it their composition, value structure, skillful confident brushwork? It’s probably a combination of all of those.
  3. Did the artist bravely paint an unexpected and unique viewpoint that set it apart from the other entries? How can you set yourself apart and share your voice in your own work?

Recently I entered one of the monthly salon competitions at Plein Air Salon and I almost didn’t enter.

I saw that my favorite artists had entered some beautiful pieces in the same category and I was honestly intimidated.

I thought, “No way I’ll win against these beautiful paintings”

But then I thought about it more…I was hopeful, but pretty sure it was not going to be my month to win.


I ended up winning and my dear friends and fellow competitors even called to congratulate me!

I was touched, very surprised and honored. It was a feather in my beret, a big win for many reasons.

I especially love that we all cheer for and support each other.  We truly want our friends and fellow artists to do well. It’s an amazing rare community that we are part of.

So my advice is to be brave and enter, reach for the stars, dream big, put your work out there and be willing to learn more from entering than just the big prize.

Celebrate your wins and your growth as an artist, then enter your best paintings and good luck to you all!