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20 visual art competitions

22 Visual Art Competitions for High School Students 2024-2025

There are so many visual art competitions for high school students on a regional, national, and international level. If you are an art student hoping for an opportunity to showcase your talent and receive a boost for your college application, this is the right article for you! Keep reading to see the complete list of visual art competitions for high school students!
Compared to other fields such as math or biology, art has always been a subjective field because of how different people respond to art. Even if you are an excellent artist, a painting can be “beautiful” to a person but can be “nothing special” to another. However, if you are a biology enthusiast, you can prove your profound understanding of the subject through achieving high scores in biology class, or receiving gold medals in regional, national, and international competitions.  Participating in competitions is extremely important if you are a high school art student applying for college who wants to set yourself apart from other candidates. There are many ways for high school art students to communicate their passion and express their profound understanding of visual art. Participating in visual art competitions is essential for students to receive formal recognition and impress college admission officers reading your application. Today, we have the list of visual art competitions on regional, national, and international scales. 
International Visual Art Competitions

Doodle for Google invites students from K-3 to grade 12 to create a Google Doodle based on what inner strength means to them. Submissions will be grouped into five age groups and evaluated based on artistic skill, creativity, and theme communication. The winner will have their Doodle featured on Google.com for one day, along with a $30,000 college scholarship, and a $50,000 tech package for their school/non-profit organization! National Finalists receive a $5,000 college scholarship. All winners and finalists will receive Google hardware and swag.   

Medium: Students can choose materials they want to work with, from crayons to clay to found objects.   

Judging Criteria: The submission will be judged by 5 grade groups: Grade K-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 and 10-12.

  • Artistic merit: Based on artistic skill
  • Creativity: Representation of the contest theme, use of the letters in the Google logo, and the unique approach to the Doodle
  • Theme communication: How well the contest theme is expressed in both the artwork and the written statement

Deadline: March 21, 2024 11:59 p.m. PST

We have published The Most Complete Guide to Doodle for Google! 

Never Such Innocent is an international art, poetry, speech, and song competition for young students aged 9-18. The 2023 theme is “How Does War Affect People’s Lives?” The competition invites students to submit artwork share their reflections on conflict, or give a voice to those who may not have one.  Students can create responses individually or collaboratively, whether writing a song with a classmate, working on a poem with someone they know from another country, or producing a piece of artwork solo!

Medium: Any media such as watercolors, pastels, charcoals, pencils, acrylic, crayons, paper cuttings, oil paints, photography, or digital media. 

Deadline: May 24, 2024

Science without Borders Challenge invites students from 11-19 years old to create art to promote public awareness of the need to preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources. The 2023 Science without Borders® Challenge theme is “The Sixth Extinction.” You can help create awareness about endangered species for this year’s contest. The top 3 winners will receive a $500, $350, or $200 prize.   

Medium: Acceptable media includes paint, pencil, marker, crayon, ink, felt, and oil pastel. Digitally created artwork, including photographs, is not accepted. The artwork must be 2D, such as a painting or drawing.   

Deadline: Monday, March 4, 2024 at midnight ET.

The 2024 K12 Art Competition invites students across the country in grades K–12 to unleash their creativity, unveil their artistic talent, and explore new mediums for a share of $20,000 worth of prizes! This competition is proudly hosted by Stride K12, a leader in online education.

Medium: This year, in addition to traditional 2D physical art, they added two new categories—digital and AI art. Students in each category will compete against peers in their grade bands (K–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12). 

Eligibility: Competition is open to legal registrants of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Contestants must be enrolled in grades K-12 at the time of entry and must reside in the U.S. at the time of their entry to be eligible for the competition. 

Deadline: March 25, 2024 at 5 pm ET

5. DSWF Global Canvas – Children’s Wildlife Art Competition

DSWF Global Canvas – Children’s Wildlife Art Competition is open to children and young people under the age of 16. The competition welcomes submissions as individuals or as a group (from 2 children to up to an entire school). The competition is free to enter and is open to children and young people aged 16 and under. We welcome entries from both groups and individuals. A group can be as small as 2 children, or as large as a whole school.

Medium: All media accepted, such as painting, sculpture, textiles, collages or recycled materials. 

Deadline: February 13, 2024

The International Environmental Children’s Drawing Contest is sponsored by The Japan Quality Assurance Organization International Certification Organization Network, and UNICEF Tokyo. The 2024 Theme is Passing on Our Precious Earth to The Future. The competition invites children aged 7-15 worldwide to draw the kind of natural environment they would like to live in. 48 winners will receive special memorabilia. All entrants will receive a participation prize. 

Medium: Drawings with any type of paint, pastel, etc. 

DeadlineMay 31, 2024

7. United Nations Competition

The United Nations invites ordinary citizens to participate in different competitions throughout the year, from photography, artworks, cartoons to video competitions. Each competition hopes to raise awareness about a particular topic about the world and its surrounding issues. 

Medium: Varies, check each competition for allowed media  

8. Planet911 Youth Film Challenge

Planet911 Youth Film Challenge, sponsored by EarthX, invites young filmmakers from 11-22 years old who care about the planet to create a 50-second or less story in response to one of the two questions:   

  • How can we protect our natural resources and the rights of the world’s citizens to live equitably?  
  • How do we build a more environmentally just world?  

Winners will receive cash prizes, with a total prize value of up to $7500.   

Medium: Films such as documentaries, narratives, animated films, and other genres. Files are submitted as MP4 or .MOV, with 16.9 (horizontal) framing preferred, and 1080p or minimum 720p quality. 

Deadline: The competition is currently canceled until further notice. 

9. Sony World Photography Awards Youth Competition

Sony World Photography Awards Youth Competition invites young photographers from 12 to 19 years old to submit photographs for monthly changing themes, such as Composition and design, Culture and travel, Landscape, Open Call, Portraits, Street Photography, and Wildlife and nature. Photographers can submit up to 3 images per month. The winner will receive Sony digital imaging equipment, and recognition on Sony platforms.  

Medium: Photographs, submitted as digital files 

Deadline: January 5,  2024 at 13:00 (GMT)

The annual Ocean Awareness Contest provides a platform for young people to understand environmental issues through artistic creation and creative thoughts, explore their relationship with the changing world, and become advocates of positive change.

Students are invited to create Visual Art (any medium), Creative Writing, Film, Interactive & Multimedia, Performing Arts: Music & Dance, and Poetry & Spoken Word. 

Competition Theme: The 2024 Ocean Awareness Competition theme is “Tell Your Climate Story.”

Deadline: June 10, 2024

American Visual Art Competitions
1. YoungArts Competition

YoungArts Competition is a part of the YoungArts National Arts Competition, where artists across 10 disciplines come together and earn a chance to win cash awards, receive mentorships from accomplished artists, receive lifetime professional support, and achieve national recognition. Artists ages 15–18, or grades 10–12, are encouraged to apply in the discipline of their choice: Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Film, Jazz, Photography, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice, and Writing. Finalists of the competitions are invited to National YoungArts Week, an intensive, week-long all-expense-paid program in Miami. Finalists are eligible for financial awards of up to $10,000, as well as for nomination as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.   

There are different requirements for each area: Design ArtsFilmPhotography, and Visual Arts.  

Medium: Varies depending on the discipline you choose 

Deadline: June 2024 – October 2024

2. Celebrating Art

Celebrating Art is a student art contest for anyone in grades K-12. The best entries are invited to be published in the Celebrating Art book. 10 winners from each grade group (K-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12) and their art teachers will share over US$5000 in prizes.  

Medium: any medium that can have a still digital image (painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, etc.) 

Deadline: April 6, 2024 ・ August 10, 2024 ・ December 7, 2024 (based on last year’s deadline) 

3. Arts and Writing Awards

Arts & Writing Awards is the longest-running, oldest, and most prestigious literary and art competition in the United States, aiming to find creative works and original technical skills by students in grades 7-12 in the United States and Canada. Within the Art area, there are 17 categories students can participate in: Architecture & Industrial Design, Ceramics & Glass, Comic Art, Design, Digital Art, Drawing & Illustration, Editorial Cartoon, Expanded Projects, Fashion, Film & Animation, Jewelry, Mixed Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Art Portfolio (graduating seniors only). Winners and their schools can receive up to US $250,000 in prizes and scholarships.   

Medium: Varies 

Deadline: Between December 2023 and January 2024

4. Congressional Art Competition

The Congressional Art Competition is sponsored by The Congressional Institute. The competition invites high school students to create 2-D artwork. Students submit entries to their representative’s office, and the winners are recognized in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Their works will also be displayed for one year at the U.S Capitol.  


  • Paintings: oil, acrylics, watercolor, etc. 
  • Drawings: colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels, charcoal (It is recommended that charcoal and pastel drawings be fixed.) 
  • Collages: must be two dimensional 
  • Prints: lithographs, silkscreen, block prints 
  • Mixed Media: use of more than two mediums such as pencil, ink, watercolor, etc. 
  • Computer-generated art 
  • Photographs

Deadline: Varies depending on the district  

5. FAA High School Competition

FAA High School Competition is sponsored by the College of Fine and Applied Arts in Illinois. The competition invites students to “demonstrate their talents and earn opportunities to explore the wide variety of classes and majors offered within the College of Fine and Applied Arts.” If enrolled in the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts, the winning senior will receive $1,000 to be applied toward their first-year college expenses. The winning freshman/sophomore/junior for each competition will receive one scholarship to attend an FAA summer program. 

Medium: Not limited to visual arts, such as: Architecture, Art and Design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning 

Deadline: September 1 – TBD 

6. Reading Municipal Light Department (RMLD) High School Student Art Contest

RMLD High School Student Art Contest invites students in the towns of Reading, North Reading, Wilmington, and Lynnfield Center in Massachusetts to create an electricity-themed artwork. Participants receive a certificate for 10 hours of community service, and winners receive gift cards for school or art supplies along with the chance for their artwork to be featured on the cover of RMLD’s annual report.  

Medium: Various mediums are accepted including, but not limited to, drawings, paintings, photography, and graphic art.  

Deadline: N/A  

7. Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition

Artists Magazine Annual Art Competition celebrates artists around the U.S. The competition has a student division, for students aged 16 and above. Students can enter as often as they prefer, under five categories: Animal/Wildlife, Abstract/Experimental, Landscape, Portrait/Figure, and Still Life/Interior. Winning students will receive a free subscription to Artists Network TV for one year and be featured in Feature on Artists Network Instagram/website.   

Medium: 2-D artwork using any traditional art media, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, casein, gouache, egg tempera, soft pastel, oil pastel, charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, pen and ink, graphite, charcoal, colored pencil, ink or marker, scratchboard, mixed media and mixed-media collage, silver or other metal point, and printmaking (etching, mezzotint, lithography, woodcut, monotype, mono print, aquatint). Photography, with the exception of minor elements incorporated in a collage, will NOT be considered. Sculpture will NOT be considered. Digital art will NOT be considered. 

Deadline: July 25, 2024 (based on last year’s deadline) 

8. NSHSS Visual Arts Scholarship

NSHSS Visual Arts Scholarship invites rising high school students graduating in 2024, 2025, 2026, or 2027, and recently graduated 2023 seniors to submit their artwork for a chance to receive $2000 scholarships.  

Medium: Awards will be presented to the top finalists in the two categories: Photography/Digital Photography AND Painting/Drawing/Mixed Media/Digital Art (Examples of artwork for this category include painting, drawing, ceramics, glass, sculpture, mixed media, printmaking, and weaving.)

Deadline: October 13, 2023

Cooper Hewitt invites high school students in grades 9 through 12, or who are homeschooled students working toward a high school degree anywhere in the United States to use design and data to support their community. 

Selection Criteria

  • Innovation: How creative and original is the design?
  • Impact: Large or small, what is the impact of the design?
  • Relevance: How does the design use data to support a community?
  • Communication: How clear is the design idea from the sketch and question responses?

Deadline: February 13, 2023, 11:59 PM 

10. All American High School Film Festival 

All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) is the largest student film festival in the world. The organization hosts various competitions to invite high school students to form teams to participate in a 10-week filming challenge. All films that are “official selection” are eligible to be nominated for an award. All award nominees and winners will be announced at the Teen Indie Awards on Sunday, October 10th, at The Kings Theater in Brooklyn, NY. The Teen Indie Awards are the Oscars for high school students, awarded cash prizes and recognition.   

Medium: Film with various genres  

Competition Date: October 18th-20th, 2024

This program offers students an opportunity to showcase their artistic talents and gain recognition while also providing access to the arts, which can boost their confidence and success both in the arts and in life. Students participate in the appropriate division for their grade level, which includes Primary (Pre-K – Grade 2), Intermediate (Grades 3-5), Middle School (Grades 6-8), High School (Grades 9-12), and Special Artist (open to all grades). They can submit their completed works of art in any of the available arts categories, including Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, and Visual Arts.

2024-2025 Reflections Theme: Accepting Imperfection

Deadline: February 1 every year

12. White Bear Center for the Arts Visual Arts Contest

The White Bear Center for the Arts is sponsoring a High School Visual Arts Contest for students in grades 9-12 in the Twin Cities Northeast Metro Region. The contest is a juried art show that offers cash awards, publication opportunities, and other prizes, and the selected artworks will be displayed professionally in WBCA’s Ford Family Gallery.

Deadline: Wednesday, November 1, 2023 – Friday, March 8, 2024 at 11:59 PM

Those are the top 22 visual arts competitions for high school students, ranging from drawing, painting, and photographing to filmmaking. If you’re interested in one area, don’t hesitate to register for one. Even if you don’t win any prizes, you will receive valuable feedback from the judges! If you are unsure about your work compared to other contestants, Aralia offers an Art Portfolio Prep program, where teachers will guide you through the art portfolio creation process, to help you define your style and direction for the future artwork.  

Art Portfolio Prep Program

During this eight-week art portfolio preparation online course, students will carry out a series of drawing, design and three-dimensional projects that will promote creative investigation, experimentation with materials, risk-taking, and critical dialogue. These creative practices will serve to engage students in a foundational experience, develop intellectual and practical skills, and elicit the confidence necessary to do so.

Chapbook Making & Competition Prep

Students will dip their toes into the world of publishing-chapbook making. Participants will write and polish 4 poems and 1 short story or creative non-fiction, assemble their work into a portfolio, and publish it in a stylish, professional manner in the form of a print or digital chapbook. Students will be given a training in InDesign to create a completed chapbook.


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