Judging Criteria for an Art Contest

Updated November 21, 2016

Art is very subjective and a piece of art that you like may be offensive to others or the other way around. For this reason, in an art contest, judging criteria is necessary so that the members of the judging panel can make a fair decision and choose a winner. The judging criteria may vary from contest to contest, but there are a few elements that are considered in most art competitions.

Creativity and Originality

Originality is essential in judging an art contest. Even if each media has a limited amount of materials and tools that may be used, the way the artist combines these can result in an original piece. Two pieces that are similar in concept and design can be at a disadvantage. The artist may be creative in the main idea or the method of execution. Often, artists are asked to submit a brief description of the piece and method of execution, which may be considered during judging.

Quality of the Art Piece

Art contest entries are always judged according to the quality of execution of the piece, design, composition and technique. The quality is judged differently in each art medium. For instance, in painting, the quality of the piece may be established judging by the accuracy of the drawing (for realistic paintings), control of the medium, quality of the colours and balance between colours and design.

Clarity of Theme

An art contest is often centred around a theme and the participants are asked to create a piece of art on that given theme. The pieces can be judged on how well they represent the theme and whether the theme is understood by others.


Pieces of art that are judged are often on display, so the presentation and the booth display may contribute to the overall score of a competition entry. The presentation should be in accordance with the style of the art piece and the theme of the competition.

Other Criteria

Other judging criteria may include the overall impression, whether the piece of art is inspirational and whether it works outside the competition as well. In some art contests, the public can cast votes.

The judging criteria is made public prior to the contest and should be available for each artist. The panels of judges give a score for each of the criteria for the contest and establish the winner based on the overall score.

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