Portrait artist awards

Portrait Artist Awards

If you’re creating amazing art but struggling to gain exposure, art contests are a great opportunity for publicity. This is also a way to potentially winning cash prizes, allowing you to gain an extra financial boost towards your dream creative projects. And last but not least, it gives you the opportunity to meet amazing and extraordinary people.

If you are hoping to find something for yourself, here is the list of Portrait Artist Awards for you to consider.

BP Portrait Award 

The BP Portrait Award is an annual portraiture competition held at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It is the most important portrait prize in the world and is reputedly one of the most prestigious competitions in contemporary art. 

The first competition was held in 1980. The exhibition opens in June each year and runs till September. 

With the first prize around £30,000, the exhibition has proved to be the launchpad for the careers of a number of successful portrait artists. Until 2006, the competition has been open to under-40s only. Since 2007, it is open to anyone over the age of 18 and a separate BP Young Artist Award is granted to the best portrait artist between 18 and 30.

This year the exhibition was displayed online.


Scottish portrait award

The Scottish Portrait Awards (SPAs) were established by the Scottish Arts Trust in 2016 to celebrate and promote excellence in contemporary portraiture in Scotland. 

The Scottish Portrait Awards exhibition features top portraits by fine artists and photographers including the winner of the £5000 SPA in Fine Art, the £3000 SPA in Photography, the £500 SPA Young Photographer Award (16-25 years) and more.


The Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The Royal Society of Portrait Painters is a celebration of the very best in contemporary portraiture nationally and internationally. Unlike other portrait exhibitions, it is rigorously selected by professional portrait painters who themselves have been elected by their peers to the Society. It is one of the world’s most extensive contemporary portrait exhibitions forming a showcase of some 200 works.  

Prizes are awarded via the Annual Exhibition. These include the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture, the Prince of Wales Award for Portrait Drawing, the Burke's Peerage Foundation Prize and the de Laszlo Foundation Prize, and the Smallwood Architects Prize.


Turner prize

Turner Prize is an award given annually to a visual artist born in or based in Great Britain in recognition of an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of his or her work. It is considered the highest honour in the British art world.

The prize was named for English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner and established in 1984 by the Patrons of New Art, a group of donors associated with the Tate Gallery. In its early years, the prize was frequently criticized for its competitive selection process—up to six nominees were announced to a short list before one was chosen as the winner. 

The winner of the Turner Prize, announced near the end of the year in a televised ceremony, receives £25,000, with the three other short-listed candidates receiving £5,000 each. 


Outwin Boochever Portrait competition

Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition is a USA competition where portraits are created in a dizzying variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and other time-based media, even images based on individual DNA. It’s up to the artists to figure out how best to depict those close to them. 


Portrait Society of America

Portrait Society of America has three competitions. International Portrait competition, Members only Competition and Inspiring figures Competition. The first two are, as the name says, for members and for everyone worldwide, while the Inspiring figures Competition invites women artists to submit figurative work for consideration to be included in an exhibit of outstanding contemporary and historic work.  Over $15,000 in cash and prizes is awarded to the top 20 artists.  Selected artworks are included in the full-colour exhibit catalogue and Portrait Society publications. The first Inspiring Figures competition and exhibit was opened in September 2010.


Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize

The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize is open to living artists over the age of 18, who are resident in the British Isles. Only original, two-dimensional works in any painting or drawing media, that have been completed in the last three years, and that have not been previously exhibited, are eligible. All works must be for sale, except commissioned portraits. First prize is £15,000 and five runners up prizes, each at £1,500, There is also a Young Artist Award, at £2,500