6 Art/Design Competitions for High Schoolers

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Why Should You Enter an Art/Design Competition?

 

Sports stars and singers have a distinct advantage when it comes to conveying their talents to college admissions committees. After all, it’s easy to list “soccer team” or “choir” on your application. Other extracurricular activities, such as photography, graphic design, and sculpture, tend to be more difficult to describe.

 

If you have an artistic hobby, you might be struggling to showcase your skill and enthusiasm to colleges. That’s where art competitions come in. Competitions are one way to show how your skills stack up against other students. It’s true that these competitions can be extremely selective. But even if you don’t win, you may still have produced something of quality, which could still serve you well on college applications—perhaps in an arts supplement. If you’re considering submitting an arts supplement, be sure to get the feedback of an honest professional or art mentor. Arts supplements will only help your application if they are exceptional, and will hurt you if they’re only so-so.

 

Ready to gear up for a competition? Here are 6 that can help you stand out:

 

6 Art/Design Competitions for High Schoolers

 

1. Congressional Art Competition

 

Are you skilled in the visual arts? If so, consider applying to the Congressional Institute’s Art Competition. Designed to acknowledge and celebrate talented young artists, this contest is open to high school students around the country. As a bonus, winners get to see their pieces displayed in the U.S. Capitol for a full year.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National

 

2. Doodle 4 Google

 

Google is famous for its drawings and doodles, and now the search engine juggernaut is offering high schoolers are a chance to get in on the fun. To enter, students create an illustration using a medium of their choice, and write artist statements explaining their work and why it’s meaningful to them. The national winner’s creation will be featured on Google.com.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National

 

3. National Geographic Student Photo Competition

 

High school students who are always snapping photos for their Instagram may be intrigued by the National Geographic Student Photo Competition. To participate, submit a digital photo that showcases your love of exploration and adventure, along with a 100-word description. The grand prize winner will receive a free National Geographic Student Expeditions photography trip.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National

 

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4. NSHSS Visual Arts Competition

 

This visual arts competition supports artists with various mediums, including painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, photography, and mixed media. To apply, submit a JPEG of your work, with a minimum 300 dpi. Finalists will be required to submit physical copies of their work where appropriate. The first-place winner receives $1,000, while second- and third-place winners earn $500 and $250, respectively.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National

 

5. River of Words: Youth Art and Poetry Inspired by the Natural World

 

Is the written word your preferred method of expression? Sponsored by the Center for Environmental Literacy, the River of Words contest invites students to submit one or more original poems and works of art. The competition aims to promote literacy, art, and environmental awareness.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: National

 

6. Vans Custom Culture

 

If you want to show off your artistic talent while helping your school, the Vans Custom Culture competition is an ideal choice. Vans created the contest as a way to support budding artists while bolstering arts education programs around the country. Students at each school are asked to design two pairs of blank Vans shoes using specific themes. The public votes on the submissions, with the top five schools receiving funding.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Competition Type: Local, National

 

How Can Students Find the Best Competitions to Enter?

 

Most of the competitions listed above are national; if you’re not totally confident in your skills, you may first want to test out a smaller local event. Ask your guidance counselor for resources or check with an art mentor.

 

Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.