Art Challenge vs. Art Competition

art challenge vs. art competition placard

Artists often ask the difference between an art challenge and an art competition. Here’s my explanation that hopefully answers this question for you!


How and Why Does It Matter?

Art contests and art challenges are like siblings in the art world but with different vibes. Each caters to various objectives and community-building efforts.

As a fellow artist, I encourage you to give each a try. Both improve your skills and will get your work out there for others to see!

What is an Art Challenge?

It’s a commitment to make something creative over a set period of time.

Challenges are all about sharing, learning, and having a blast.

You can join a monthly art challenge to use oil pastel or focus on traditional materials. Or try making block prints or even do some creative writing or a drawing challenge?

The options are limitless, and you can join as many challenges as you want!

It’s been several years since I did an art challenge, and I am doing the #20for20ArtChallenge starting January 1, 2024. This event requires artists to create 20 works of art over 20 days, spending only 20 minutes on each piece. This challenge will loosen up my work and force me to make quick decisions and organize my workspace.

What are Art Competitions?

There are many types of art competitions and design contests in the art world, and age doesn’t matter! Some are put on by the visual arts department in your city’s high schools. Other school districts hold an annual competition for grades k-12.

You can find statewide and international competitions through art organizations, and even online. I like Call for Entries which lists various calls for artists and contests worldwide.

You can also check your local arts organizations or stores that sell art supplies. They receive notifications from art groups and sometimes donate gift cards or offer store credit to winners!

What to Know About Art Competitions

Most competitions require an entry form and ask for an artist statement. There is usually an entry fee for each art piece or art form submitted. Some contests require original artwork only, while others accept digital artwork or on-line entries.

The official rules are strict, and must be followed carefully by the artist. Eligible entries often compete for a cash prize in a certain category or a grand prize.

Contests are juried by various creative people in media arts, professional artists, and art critics. Some competitions have a single juror, while others use a panel of art experts to judge the quality of the artwork.

Art competitions offer chances for the winning artist to earn cash rewards. And winning artists can get lots of recognition and even exhibition opportunities! So exercise your imagination and artistic talent, and join an art contest today!

Words Just Have Fun painted on a canvas in primary colors

Art Challenge vs. Art Competition

Here are a few of the differences between the two:

  • Purpose: Art challenges are about self-growth, whereas competitions compete for recognition and prizes.
  • Formality: Art challenges are usually quite chill, while art competitions are very structured.
  • Engagement: Challenges are all about sharing progress, whereas contests focus on the final winning masterpiece.
  • Outcomes: Challenges are personal victories, while contests are about winning and getting tangible rewards.

How Is An Art Challenge and a Competition Similar?

Both give artists a stage to shine and push their limits. They’re like training grounds, offering feedback and exposure from peers.

Each also forces artists to create awesome work they might not otherwise create.

Benefits of Challenges and Competitions

Just the experience alone makes both a challenge and a competition worthwhile!

For me, art challenges are like cozy hangouts that foster friendships among my peers. And a challenge allows me to try new techniques and use different mediums.

Art competitions promote intense imagination and refining of an artist’s existing skills. Even winning an Honorable Mention looks amazing on a resume. And winning 1st place, 2nd place or 3rd place will earn a ribbon and possibly some spending money!

Art contests encourage artists to create their best work because competition is fierce. Art challenges produce multiple works – some that may become competition-worthy.

My Thoughts on Art Competitions

Personally, I rarely submit work to art competitions. I find art contests to be a lot of work, and it can become expensive – especially if your work is accepted! The costs add up when you have to ship your work to the venue, and pay for return shipping if it doesn’t sell.

“City Celebration” by Judy “JJ” Jacobs – 2012 “Top 10 Artist” award

In 2012, one of my abstracts won a “Top 10 Artist” award for “unique exploration.” There wasn’t a monetary award, but getting recognized for my work from the thousands of entries did make my day!

My Thoughts on Art Challenges

I love participating in them because each time I do, I personally challenge myself to use a different subject, style, theme, medium, or substrate.

For example, here are thirty monochromatic acrylic seascapes on paper I completed for a 30-Paintings-in-Thirty-Days challenge. These paintings each measured 4″x6″ and 6″x6″ and were painted with acrylics on 140# Canson watercolor paper . I gessoed the paper first using Golden white gesso, then applied two layers of Liquitex satin varnish.

2015 art challenge collage of monochromatic seascapes by Judy Jacobs
Monochromatic acrylic seascapes by Judy Jacobs – 2015

We got to share our work on a Facebook group and an Instagram page. And the group was so encouraging and supportive!

Are you still deciding if you will join an art challenge? Here are even more reasons why you should do it!

Final Thoughts

So you can see that art challenges and contests each have their perks. Challenges are for personal growth, while contests can reap recognition and hopefully, sweet rewards.

It’s like choosing between a casual hangout and a big award show. It ultimately depends on what you’re after.

So, pick whichever suits your artistic desires and goals. Each is awesome, and at the end of the day, you get to make lots of art!

Person holding a trophy for art challenge vs art competition article

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