| Forgot Password?

Guidelines for Art Competitions

Suggested Guidelines for Art Competitions and Contests

Entering contests has always been a bit of a crapshoot (who knows whether the effort alone is worth the small chance of winning); however, some contests are so clearly unethical or disadvantaged to the artist that the community needs to know they should skip it. In 1980, the Graphic Artists Guild, together with Designers Saturday (DS), a furniture manufacturers association, developed a competition to meet two goals: produce high-quality art for the DS annual show and provide an ethical competition appropriate for professional artists. This experiment was so successful that the Guild decided to encourage other contests to meet the same criteria. The Graphic Artists Guild Foundation, with a supporting grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, conducted a nationwide survey of art and design competition holders, as well as an informal poll of jurors and competition entrants. Based on these results, the Graphic Artists Guild developed guidelines for three types of art competitions: those held by art-related organizations/associations to award excellence in the field; those for which the winning entries are used for commercial purposes; and competitions held by nonprofit organizations where the winning entries are used to benefit nonprofits. Among the survey findings:

Associations ancillary to the advertising industry, such as art directors’ clubs and industry trade magazines, operate the biggest competitions. While these competitions don’t typically require original art, the sponsoring organizations generally charge high entry fees. Historically, competitions requiring original work attract the fewest entries. While, in most cases, the jury selection process is done well, jurors noted that the judging process is often vague or poorly articulated. Too many competitions require entrants transfer all rights to their work. The following guidelines were developed:

Item One: Competitions by art-related organizations/associations to award excellence.

1) The call for entry must clearly define all rules governing competition entries, specifications for work entered, any and all fees for entry and any and all rights to be transferred by entrants to the competition.

2) Jurors for the competition will be listed on the call for entry. No juror or employee of the organization holding the competition is eligible to enter the competition.

3) Jurying criteria and specifications for submitted artwork in all rounds will be defined clearly in the call for entry as a guide to both entrants and jurors.

4) Deadlines and the notification process for acceptance or rejection of all entries will be listed in the call for entry.

5) Any and all uses for entries will be listed clearly in the call for entries, with terms for any rights to be transferred.

6) For the first round, reproductions of existing work will be used to judge appropriateness of style, technique and proficiency. This round will end with a list of finalists. If art from this round is not to be returned, that fact will be listed clearly in the call for entries.

7) Any hanging or exhibition fees paid for by entrants will be listed in the call for entries.

8) After the first round, the jury may request original art for review. The competition holder will insure all work against damage or loss until the work is returned to the artist. All original artwork will be returned to the artist. Any fees for the return of artwork will be listed in the call for entry.

9) Artwork will not be altered in any way without the express permission of the artist.

10) All entries and rights to the artwork remain the property of the artist, unless a separate written transfer and payment for the original has been negotiated.

11) If work exhibited by the competition is for sale, any commission taken by the competition holder will be listed in the call for entries.

 

Item Two: Competitions where the winning entries are used for commercial purposes.

1) These guidelines are simply meant to convey what the elements are of a fair competition. Their principal purpose is to enable competition holders and entrants to make their own independent judgments concerning the way fair competitions should be run and whether and on what terms to participate in them.

2) The call for entry shall clearly define all rules governing competition entries, specifications for work entered, any and all fees for entry and any and all rights to be transferred by any entrants to the competition holder.

3) Jurors for the competition shall be listed on the call for entry. No juror or employee of the organization holding the competition is eligible to enter the competition.

4) Criteria for jurying the entries and specifications for the artwork to be submitted in all rounds will be defined clearly in the call for entry as a guide to both entrants and jurors.

5) Deadlines and the process for notification of acceptance or rejection of all entries shall be listed in the call for entry.

6) Any and all uses for any and all entries shall be listed clearly in the call for entries, with terms for any rights to be transferred.

7) For the first round, reproductions of existing work will be used to judge appropriateness of style, technique and proficiency. This round will end with a list of finalists. If art from this round is not to be returned, that fact will be listed clearly in the call for entries.

8) The number of finalists chosen after the first round should be small. The finalists will be required to submit sketches or comprehensive drawings for final judging.

9) Agreements will be made with each artist working at the final stage, prior to the beginning of work (Graphic Artists Guild contracts or the equivalent can be used). The agreements will include the nature of the artwork required, deadlines, credit line and copyright ownership for the artist, and the amount of the award.

10) Any work of finalists not received by the required deadline or not in the form required and agreed upon will be disqualified. All rights to any disqualified artwork remain with the artist.

11) The winners will produce camera-ready or finished art according to the specifications listed in the call for entry. Submitted artwork will not be altered in any way without the express permission of the artist.

12) The value of any award to the winners will be equal to, or greater than, the fair market value of the rights transferred. The first place winner will receive an award that is significantly greater than that of other winners.

13) The competition holder will insure original artwork in their possession against loss or damage until it is returned to the artist.

 

Item Three: Competitions held by non-profit organizations or where the winning entry is used for nonprofit purposes.

1) The call for entry must clearly define all rules governing competition entries, specifications for work entered, any and all fees for entry and any and all rights to be transferred by entrants to the competition holder.

2) Jurors for the competition will be listed on the call for entry. No juror or employee of the organization holding the competition is eligible to enter the competition.

3) Criteria for jurying the entries and specifications for the submitted artwork in all rounds will be clearly defined in the call for entry as a guide to both entrants and jurors.

4) Deadlines and the process for notification of acceptance or rejection of all entries will be listed in the call for entry.

5) All uses for all entries will be listed clearly in the call for entries, with terms for any rights to be transferred.

6) For the first round, reproductions of existing work will be used to judge appropriateness of style, technique and proficiency. This round will end with a list of finalists. If art from this round is not to be returned, that fact will be listed clearly in the call for entries.

7) The number of finalists chosen after the first round should be small. The finalists will then be required to submit sketches or comprehensive drawings for final judging.

8) Agreements will be made with each artist working at the final stage, prior to the beginning of work (Graphic Artists Guild contracts or the equivalent can be used). The agreements cover the nature of the artwork required, deadlines, credit line and copyright ownership for the artist, and the amount of the award.

9) Any finalists’ work that’s late or not in the form required will be disqualified. All rights to disqualified artwork remain with the artist.

10) The winners will produce camera-ready or finished art according to the specifications listed in the call for entry. Artwork will not be altered in any way without the express permission of the artist.

11) The value of the award should, if possible, be equal to, or greater than, the fair market price for the job. Non-profit competition holders may make exceptions depending on the budget and use of the artwork for the competition.

12) The competition holder must insure original artwork in their possession against loss or damage until it is returned to the artist.


This report produced by The Graphic Artists Guild with special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts.


Digital Contracts

Membership is the key to unlocking more than 20 contracts that can be downloaded, edited and customized for use in your business.

Available in Word or Rich Text formats.


View Available Contracts


Member Portfolios

Wines Image
Show your work to potential clients… 
one of the many benefits of membership.


Guild Webinars

Looking to keep up with industry trends and techniques?

Taking your creative career to the next level means you need to be up on a myriad of topics. And as good as your art school education may have been, chances are there are gaps in your education. The Guild’s professional monthly webinar series, Webinar Wednesdays, can help take you to the next level.

Members can join the live webinars for FREE - as part of your benefits of membership! Non-members can join the live webinars for $45. 

Visit our webinar archive page, purchase the webinar of your choice for $35 and watch it any time that works for you.


 

Join the Guild

Share

Follow Us

  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn