12+ Drawing Challenges & Illustration Competitions – Open for Anyone to enter
There’s plenty of design competitions online to submit your illustrations into, and doing so can be a great way to get some exposure for your work and also winning stuff is always great. We’ll be going over both illustration competitions where the winner takes home some kind of prizes but also draw challenges that are more about getting inspired, improving your skills and getting new idea for themes/topics to draw. What kind of challenge you’re looking for is up to you.
The challenges & contests listed in this guide are all available online and open for anyone to participate in.
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Illustration & Drawing Competitions
On the one hand a contest can be great, you can get exposure for your work, there’s prizes to be won and it could be a nice inspiration on what to draw next (if a contest has a specific theme or topic you need to follow), but there’s never any guarantee that you’re going to win and you need to decide if a contest is worth entering even if you won’t win anything, and if entering a contest requires you to create a new piece of work it’s even more important to consider if it’s worth the time and effort or not.
I would also recommend that you always read the fine print of the contests you’re entering so you don’t end up losing the rights to your own work. That’s not the case with any of contests listed in this guide though.
Threadless design contests
Threadless is a online shop that sells clothing, accessories & other home decor items with design made by artist from around the world. They regularly host design contest for t-shirts and other products that you can find in their store, it’s always some kind of contest active on the site and the themes of the contest can be quite different, when I’m writing this guide there’s a live contest that accepts designs for leggings, and also two contest that are asking for design under the topic “zoo” and “Isometric”. You can check out Threadless contest page to see what’s going on right now.
The prize for winning is usually a cash prize (or store credit on the site) and also if the design goes to printing you’ll get money for each sold product.
DesignbyHuman's design contests
Designbyhumans is yet another t-shirt store that host design contests for artists and designers. Their contests doesn’t happen as often as it dose on Threadless though, instead you’ll see contests where DesignbyHumans teams up with other big brands, artists and video games, and then they’ll ask for submissions that fit under those brands.
They usually have pretty big cash prizes for the winners of their contest which is always a huge plus, sadly they don’t host these kinds of events that often, I suggest you join their newsletter or check their contest page regularly if you want to catch and participate in the next big contest.
Redbubble Design Challenges
Redbubble is yet anther print on demand shop that sells a bunch of different products like clothing, stickers and phone cases with design from artists that sell their work on the platform. They also have a contest section on their blog where they from time to time post about new contests that artists on Redbubble can enter.
The winners will get a small cash prize and/or vouchers that can be used on the site, the winners can also expect to get some extra exposure for their work on the Redbubble homepage and on their Instagram (which most likely will bring in more sales if you’re selling your work on Redbubble).
Spoonflower - Weekly Pattern Design competitions
Spoonflower is a textile fabric shop that let’s pattern designers (or anyone) to sell their designs on printed fabric in their store online. They host design contests weekly for anyone who’s selling on Spoonflower, they always have a bunch of contests where you can create and submit your designs for.
The winners gets store credits that can be used on the site, the prize pot usually isn’t that impressive, and it’s only really worth participating if you’re also planning on selling your patterns on Spoonflower. More info about the current contests that’s active right now can be found over here.
Awesome Merchandise's Sticker design competition
Awesome Merchandise is a UK based company that makes custom pins, stickers, t-shirt and other merchandise for artists and companies. Each week they have a contest where you can win 100 free stickers with your design on, they call it Free Sticker Friday. It’s a fun idea that’s easy to participate in, each Friday 10 new winners are announced.
Next up are drawing challenges, these are great if you’re looking for inspiration on what to draw next or if you want to challenge yourself to do something different. We’ll be listing a mixture of different challenges but hopefully you’ll find something interesting worth checking out further.
Also if you have any challenges you think would fit the list feel free to leave your suggestion in the comment section.
Illustration Friday Weekly Art challenge
Illustration Friday is a weekly art challenge that’s open for everyone to enter, each Friday a new theme is presented for the week’s challenge, then you can submit your illustration on the site (under that theme). There’s no price money or any other reward involved for winning, but the winner will be presented on their homepage until the next winner is chosen, and you’ll also have a chance to be shown on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Illustration Friday has quite the following on these platforms so it can be some nice exposure for your work.
You can also see everyone ells submission, and it’s always fun to see how other artist & illustrators has tackled that weeks topic. For me Illustration Friday is a great way to get a quick suggestion on a topic I should draw, and the past weekly themes have made me draw stuff I would never had though of otherwise.
Doodle addicts drawing challenges
Doodle addicts is a online community dedicated to the art of doodling and sketching, on their site hundreds of artists share their doodles with the world. They also have a regular doodle challenges that anyone can enter (you just need to be a member on the site), these challenges are perfect if you want some ideas on what to doodle next, and it’s also great fun to see how other artist have interpreted the drawing challenge. In the past the challenges has been everything from drawing a stranger to draw on a napkin.
You can find past challenges and see if there any thing going on right now over here, Doodle Addicts Drawing Challenges
The Sketchbook project challenges
The Sketchbook Project is a company that organizes global art projects, their main project is a crowd-sourced library that features over 36,000 sketch books contributed by artists and creative people around the world. From time to time they’ll post new challenges for their community, it can be anything from art exchanges to contributing with your own sketch book to their library.
You can find open and past challenges over here.
Weekly Design Challenge on Instagram
Weekly Design Challenge is a Instagram page that host a weekly design sketch challenge to help people improve their sketching skills. Every Monday a new topic/theme to sketch is presented and anyone can tag their drawings with the hashtag #weeklydesignchallenge to join the challenge. Every week a few of the sketches that used the tag will be featured on their Instagram page.
It’s also quite inspiring to browse through the submissions to the hashtag to see how other artists have tackled that weeks topic.
Character Design Challenge (CDChallenge)
The design/art community Character Design Reference host a monthly drawing challenge where a theme is given in which you should create a character for. Head over to their challenge page to see this months theme and how much time you got left to submit your design.
Before starting with this challenge make sure you read all their rules carefully, the rules can also be a great way to find inspiration for your character design. There’s also prizes for each month’s winners.
Skillshare - Take on a challenge & Learn a new skill
Skillshare is a platform where illustrators, artists & people active in other fields create their own video courses where they teach a range of different skills, techniques and software. You’ll find plenty of guides about illustration made by talented artist from around the world. Picking a course and learning something new can be a great challenge for anyone to pick up.
Skillshare has a few free courses but to unlock their full catalogue there’s a monthly fee, if you just want to give Skillshare a try you can use my recruit-a-friend link above to get 2 months for free.
Pokedraw - Draw a Pokemon in 45 seconds
This last one of the drawing challenges is a quick & fun one, Pokedraw is a fast drawing challenge where you’re presented with a random Pokemon that you should draw in 45 seconds. It’s all done inside your web browser with the site’s simple drawing tools, so don’t expect to create any masterpiece. Nothing too serious, it’s just a quick draw challenge!
You can also see other people’s drawings on the site and how their Pokemon turned out.
Illustration Contest directories
In the last category of this list you’ll find Illustration contest directories, these sites keep track of big illustration competitions that you can enter.
Just be cautions when browsing around these sites, some of the contests listed you need to pay money to enter, which isn’t something I would personally recommend anyone doing.