Art competitions for kids can be great motivation for students to create and showcase their best work. The contests and themes vary from general to thematic, such as NASA or conservation. Winners are recognized on a national or global stage. In some cases, young artists will even receive a scholarship or cash prize for their creativity! To brush up on your art skills before competing and to get creative ideas, explore online art camps and live online art classes informed by a curriculum designed by Google, Stanford, and MIT professionals.

Students in Grades 1-4 can learn digital art concepts, including how to create their own comics, with live expert instruction:

Students in Grades 3-6 can learn how to create stunning graphic designs such as posters and presentations, and even edit cool videos:

Discover online art competitions for students

Art organizations and charitable foundations offer art competitions to engage students in the arts and to promote education about their mission. Whether students win or not, they benefit from a boost in self-confidence as an artist whose work deserves to be seen by others. Students are challenged to solve a specific artistic problem and grow in their process, and they reflect on their work as they get feedback from judges.

When picking an art competition to enter, be mindful of deadlines, guidelines the artwork should follow, and check if there are any entry fees. This list includes free or scholarship-based entries only for artists ages 2-18. Good luck and happy creating!

Drawing competitions for kids

To start, here are the details on annual drawing competitions that draw inspiration from songbirds to space exploration.

1. NASA Langley Student Art Contest

Ready to explore the last frontier? NASA asks students to find inspiration from space flight, earth science, STEM fields, and NASA Missions to create an original print or digital artwork. Entries are judged based on their communication of the theme, creative techniques, and composition. Winners are selected from each grade level to be featured in a gallery.

Dates: Annually in December

Prize: Certificate and NASA Swag Package

Ages: Grades K-12

2. Art of Conservation Songbird Art Contest

Hosted by Wildlife Forever, the Songbird Art Contest aims to share the wonder and diversity of North American songbirds. Students submit a drawing and creative writing essay about a species from the Official Songbird List, then research and record field notes to learn more about their species. Entries are judged by age group and in Creativity and Technique categories.

Dates: Annually in November

Prize: Featured on Songbird Website & Social

Ages: Grades K-12

3. Celebrating Art contest

Celebrating Art has three free art contests each year. With multiple categories, students can enter their best work of drawing, painting, collage, or computer graphics. About forty-five percent of student art is accepted to be published in the annual art anthology. In addition, winning students earn their teachers free classroom supplies!

Dates: Annually in Spring, Summer, and Fall

Prize: Publication, $25 gift card and free book

Ages: Grades K-12

4. SIGGRAPH SpaceTime Student Exhibition

In support of computer graphics in education, SIGGRAPH offers a themed poster contest each year centered around a chosen theme. Student winners who create a computer-based media creative work have the opportunity to exhibit their work nationally and internationally. The theme for 2022 was “Shaping our future and evolving together.”

Dates: Annually in May

Prize: Participation in International online exhibition

Ages: High School & College

5. JQA International Environmental Drawing Contest

JQA has been around since 1999 with this art contest that receives entries from students in over 80 countries. The 2022 theme, “Choosing Eco Friendly Lifestyles,” asks students to think about how we can live lightly on the planet. Entries can be drawing, paint, pastel, or any other 2D medium.

Dates: Annually in May

Prize: Special memorabilia and participation prize

Ages: 7-15

6. Create & Learn's Digital Design Challenge

Win class credits and fun prizes including LEGO, Arduino, or Snap Circuit kits. The theme of this challenge is "animal". Create a game about an animal rescue, build an animation about your family pet, or show a story about sharks or dinosaurs - just to name a few examples. Choose any design platform you like (Photoshop, Canva, Procreate, and more), show off your skills, and create!

Dates: Now through July 17th, 2022

Prize: Online presentation, class credits and LEGO, Arduino, or Snap Circuit kits

Ages: 5-18

Art contests for kids cash prizes

In addition to the recognition of a job well done, the following art contests also offer scholarship and cash prizes for student artwork.

7. U.S. Kids Magazine's Cover Contest

U.S. Kids calls on young artists each year to illustrate a cover for their magazines based on a theme. The theme this year is “What pets do when their humans are out.” In addition to getting a cash prize, the winner is featured on the cover of Jack and Jill or Humpty Dumpty Magazine.

Dates: February 1, 2023

Prize: 1st - $500; 2nd - $250.00; 3rd - $100.00

Ages: 2-12

8. Doodle for Google

You know how the Google homepage logo changes for different holidays? Your young artist’s entry could be just that! Students submit a drawing of the Google logo based on a different theme each year. In addition to the prize package, the winner will have their Google logo displayed on the Google homepage for a day. Entries are judged on artistic merit, creativity, and theme communication.

Dates: Annually in March

Prize: $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology package for their school/non-profit organization

Ages: Grades K-12

9. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

This long-running contest has 28 different categories for teens to submit their art entries, including comic art, digital art, drawing, and more. Notable alumni that have won the Scholastic awards include Joyce Carol Oates, Andy Warhol, and inaugural poet Amanda Gorman! Art entries are evaluated on originality, technical skill, and personal voice. The entry fee of $7 per work can be waived with a scholarship form.

Dates: Annual Deadlines in September - December

Prize: Scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 + national recognition and exhibition

Ages: Grades 7-12

10. Science Without Borders Art Challenge

Students from around the world participate in the Science Without Borders Challenge each year to promote ocean conservation through art. The theme for 2022 was “Ridge to Reef,” focusing on actions people can take to protect fragile coral reef ecosystems. Painting or drawing entries are judged based on theme, artistic merit, creativity, and visual impact.

Dates: Annually in March

Prize: 1st - $500; 2nd - $250.00; 3rd - $100.00

Ages: 11-19

11. Toyota Dream Car USA Art Contest

Each year Toyota invites students to dream about how they would like to get around in the future in their Dream Car Contest. Students draw or paint anything they can imagine for their dream car - one of last year’s winners was a Giraffe car that delivers groceries to high-rise apartments. Entries are judged on concept, uniqueness, and artistry.

Dates: Annually in January

Prize: 1st - $750; 2nd - $500; 3rd - $250

Ages: 4-15

12. ShinHan Postcard Art Contest

ShinHan invites students around the world to work on a smaller scale to paint a postcard around a theme each year. For 2022, “A New Appreciation: Back to Normal” has students ponder what they are grateful for coming out of pandemic lockdowns. Winners are displayed in an online gallery and receive a range of cash prizes.

Dates: Annually in May

Prize: Cash prizes from $100 - $1,000 and Shinhan watercolor set

Ages: 4-18

Enter art competitions for kids

Art competitions can be an excellent, focused way to get students of all ages creating and sharing their artwork with the world. Keep an eye on the calendar because most competitions return each year. Maybe we will see your art on the Google homepage or in NASA’s art gallery someday! Up next, check out fun STEM contests.

If you’re looking to engage your child in fun classes with a live teacher while developing their artistic skills, check out online Create & Learn art and design classes including:

Power of Color - Learn how to combine colors to create moods, effects, understanding, and meaning. Color makes your artwork shine!

Design & Video Editing in Canva - Learn to use this intuitive graphic design tool to create flyers, cards, posters, and videos.

Annie Schmitt is a Computer Science Teacher and Teaching Artist from Pennsylvania. She loves using art, technology, and science together to create exploratory hands-on learning experiences for students in grade K-12. As a Teaching Artist, she travels to schools and organizations in her state to teach children stop-motion animation, game design, and visual outdoor art. Annie has taught thousands of students from states all over the U.S. and countries around the world.