Well that’s entirely up to you really but there are a few things you should check first. More of that later.

In the summer of 2020 (a year we’ll never forget), I took part in my very first art competition. Well, as a business anyway. Obviously I can’t forget about all those colouring, egg decorating and Easter bonnet making competitions I entered as a kiddiwink. This competition was to design a t-shirt which I’d never done before. It was last minute but the emails kept coming through and I went back and forth with whether I should enter or not. Was I even good enough? I would retain the copyright and the design would only be available while the competition ran. I loved the theme of The Great Outdoors so the day before the deadline I decided to draw something. The design I created is above which I named ‘Wild & Free’. I only offered it in white and grey as I knew the green would work best on those colours. When I thought of the great outdoors (which let’s face it, was all great last year as we couldn’t go out), I thought of the wilderness. Bears in Canada. That’s what I thought of. Maybe that’s where I really wanted to be instead of stuck in the house with our hour of ‘playtime’. We had two weeks to sell the designs on Mercht. I bought one for myself because I wanted to see how it turned out and it’s the only way to learn if you’re ever to do it again. The only downside was the turnaround time but we were at the beginning of a pandemic. As with every other business at that time, less staff were working so it took a good few weeks for people to receive their orders. Not ideal but unavoidable at that time. Obviously things are back to normal now. Anyway, I only went and won the competition. So that ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ debate was worth it in the end. If you have nothing to lose, go for it.

More recently, I entered a competition on Wraptious. It was a worldwide competition with over 6000 entrants so I knew I was never going to win. The main prize was to become one of their featured artists which is decided later this month. First prize also included a Panasonic Lumix Bridge Camera so quite a nice prize to win. Featured artists can sell their designs on their website on all sorts of products from cushions, tea towels and mugs to art prints, coasters and greeting cards. Unfortunately I didn’t make the shortlist but I really didn’t expect to (although obviously it would have been nice). The main reason I entered was to get more eyes on my work and to see how my artwork could work on a product I don’t actually currently offer. Six of the finalists were chosen purely from social media votes and the judges chose another six people whose work they thought would be a good fit for their website. The artist retained all the rights to the work and for the duration of the competition, your five designs were available for purchase on cushions, canvases and prints. My partner bought one of my cushions and I have to say that the quality is beautiful and looks perfect on the sofa. It’s also so nice to see your artwork on a product that you may wish to sell in the future. In this case, I read the competition rules thoroughly before applying and thought it was a good opportunity to put myself out there more.

There are lots of opportunities out there for artists to submit their artwork. But read the small print. Make sure that you’re not signing anything over to the companies involved. That’s not what competitions should be about. All the rights should belong to you and you alone. There are a lot of unscrupulous businesses out there who will use your talent to their advantage. Don’t fall victim to those so called ‘competitions’. Because that’s not what they are. Giving you £100 for your design that will go on everything for the next three years is not a fair exchange for your talent. That should be a commissioned job with a fair monetary value to you.

So if you’ve always just pondered, why not take a gamble and enter that competition? Someone has to win, right? Read the rules, check the terms and conditions, make sure you retain any copyrights and that they can’t alter your designs in any way. Protect yourself and enjoy the experience. You never know, you might even win.