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8 Art Competitions for Middle School Students

If you’re a middle schooler looking for some competitive experience in the arts, you may want to consider participating in art competitions!

Participating in art competitions as a middle schooler can help build skills, add to your resume, and aid your future professional practice and college applications. Art competitions also allow you to create a portfolio displaying your commitment to your passion, but you also have talent and a strong work ethic. This works in your favor if you aim to pursue higher studies in the arts and related fields, especially while applying for a few of the tailored art programs or scholarships. Additionally, receiving feedback from renowned artists and peers can help you hone your talents and refine your technique for future competitive experiences in art as a high school student. 

In addition, some of the competitions often offer great prizes, scholarships, and chances to have one's work published in prestigious publications. We’ve collated 8 awesome art competitions for middle school students that you can check out!

Location: United States and Canada

Cost: $10 per individual entry and $30 per portfolio, waiver available 

Application Deadlines: Varies by region, can be as early as 1st December 

Competition Date: Starts from September onwards 

Eligibility: Students in grades 7-12 in the United States and Canada

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are a great way to connect with your artistic side and show off your creativity. This is a creative recognition that has 28 categories for you to showcase your skills. These diverse categories include painting, poetry, sculpture, photography, and more. Your submission will be evaluated on originality, technical skills, and how much of your personal vision or voice the piece reflects. 

There are multiple scholarships and cash prizes for regional and national medalists. Additionally, there will be specific honours that will be awarded at Carnegie Hall in New York in a star-studded ceremony alongside professional artists and writers. Through this competition, you'll gain confidence in your abilities, connect with a vibrant community of creators, and receive guidance from seasoned professionals to nurture your talents. 

Location: Virtual with varying countries every year.

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Closed for 2024. They usually close in March 

Competition Dates: Varies every year, your doodle needs to be submitted along with your application. 

Eligibility: Students aged 13 or older 

Participating in Doodle 4 Google, an annual worldwide competition, allows you to showcase your creativity on a global scale. You will get the exciting opportunity to design your own Google logo. These themes could be related to nature, heroes, countries, and many more topics that are challenging yet inspiring for students like you. This year’s theme was “My wish for the next 25 years." 

Moreover, you are allowed to use any medium of choice. Doodle 4 Google also offers some solid prizes. The National Winner has their Doodle on the Google homepage for 24 hours and a $55,000 college scholarship plus a $50,000 technology grant for their school. Runners-up get scholarships too, and state and territory winners get Google hardware and scholarships and have their art displayed in a gallery.  

Location: Virtual 

Cost: Free

Competition Dates: open from 1 June 2024, 13:00 (BST) onwards

Application Deadlines: 3 January 2025, 13:00 (GMT)

Eligibility: Photographers aged 12-19

If you find interest in the digital side of visual arts, such as photography, the Sony World Photography Awards Youth Competition is a platform to showcase and build up your creative vision. A theme is introduced every year; this year, you can enter up to three images relating to the theme ‘Through Your Eyes”. Over the years, the themes have been diverse and inspiring, challenging budding artists to explore different styles and visions. 

The rewards for participating in this competition are fruitful. You will get the chance to win Sony digital imaging equipment, a trophy, and a certificate. Moreover, you will get global press exposure as well as flights to the award ceremony in London. This recognition can be a stepping stone to further opportunities, helping you build your portfolio. This contest serves as a great opportunity to share your unique perspectives, connect with a global community of like-minded peers, and receive feedback from industry professionals

Location: International, Virtual 

Cost: Free

Application Deadline:   Applications for 2024 are closed. They usually close around May

Competition Dates: Between October to May

Eligibility: All students aged 9-18

Never such innocence is an initiative that will enable you to share your thoughts and feelings about the impact of war on the world through creative expression. This annual contest includes art, poetry, speech, and song competitions that should reflect on the profound theme, "How Does War Affect People’s Lives?". Participation is rewarding as there are multiple ways to express your thoughts on the theme, through artwork, poem or speech. By participating, you will be lending your voice to millions of people who have been impacted by war in both the past and present. 

You have the chance to work individually or collaboratively. If you’re looking for a chance to engage in meaningful dialogue and understand conflict better while simultaneously utilising your creativity, you may want to consider partaking in the competition. Moreover,  winners do receive special recognition and a chance to showcase their work internationally. This contest is a great platform for you to share your thoughts and start a conversation about war. 

Location: International

Cost: No cost

Application Deadlines:  Applications are usually due in March. 

Competition Dates: Same as the Application deadline 

Eligibility: Primary and Secondary school students 11-19 years old

The Science without Borders Challenge invites you to use your talents to raise environmental concerns through artistic expression while winning a scholarship! This international competition invites young artists to create artwork that raises public awareness of the need to preserve and protect our world’s oceans and aquatic resources. The theme for 2024 was “Hidden Wonders of the Deep." You are allowed to create artwork only using physical art, such as painting or drawing.

There are monetary prizes ranging from $200 to $500 for the first three winners, as well as a chance to showcase your art. More importantly, your artwork will play a crucial role in informing people about ocean conservation, prompting them to take steps. This is a solid opportunity for you to contribute to global efforts in environmental conservation. 

Location: United States 

Cost: Free

Application Deadlines: Applications for 2024 are closed. 

Competition Dates: A month-long period, usually in December (based on previous years)

Eligibility: Students in grades K-12 studying  in the United States

The NASA Langley Student Art Contest offers an exciting opportunity for those who are curious about the blend of art and astronomy. The competition is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade and invites students to explore and visualize the great achievements associated with NASA’s missions. Each year, the contest revolves around a specific theme, encouraging students to create artwork that captures NASA’s essence, which is science, technology, aeronautics, and human exploration. You are allowed to use any kind of media for your creative vision, from traditional paintings and drawings to digital art and mixed media. 

The winner from each grade category will receive recognition and awards from NASA in the form of publication in print and media, as well as a certificate with a NASA exploration kit! Participating in this contest will not only aid your creative abilities but also encourage you to hone your interest in STEM and space exploration.

Location: International

Cost: Free

Competition Dates:  September 2024 onwards 

Application Deadlines: In April 2025 tentatively 

Eligibility: Students aged 16 or below

The DSWF Global Canvas: Children’s Wildlife Art Competition offers you an opportunity to create and submit work related to wildlife themes, either individually or as part of a group, such as a class or a school. The themes are linked to wildlife and its protection; previous years have had themes such as “Forests of Land and Sea,"  “The Barometer of Life, “Our Precious Planet,” and many more exciting and crucial themes to aid awareness. You are allowed to use any medium of choice, be it painting, sculpture, or mixed media; even 3D pieces are welcome!

The goal of the competition is to give young artists a global platform to express their voice in the form of art as well as encourage people to learn about environmental issues and the need to protect them. As a winner, you will receive recognition, along with your work being displayed on the site and a virtual exhibition. 

Location: United States

Cost: Free

Application Deadlines: Three contest deadlines: August 8, 2024,  December 5, 2024,  April 10, 2025 

Competition Dates: Same as Application Deadlines 

Eligibility: Any student in grades K-12 studying in the US. 

The Celebrating Art Contest is a great opportunity for those who enjoy creative pursuits and aim to build a career in them. All students from K–12 can participate for a chance to be featured in a prestigious art publication. This is a fun-filled experience that expects you to make art in any way, shape, or form that you prefer, such as with paint, clay, pencil, or paper. The best art from each age group gets picked not just for how good the art is or how creative it is, but also for how it showcases the artist's idea.

Ten winners from each age group get chosen to have their art put in the Celebrating Art book. This book is a special collection that shows off the creative skills of young artists. As a winner, you and your art teachers share more than $5,000 in prizes and a free copy of the publication.

One more option - The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program

The Lumiere Junior Explorer Program is a program for middle school students to work one-on-one with a mentor to explore their academic interests and build a project they are passionate about.  Our mentors are scholars from top research universities such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Duke and LSE. The program was founded by a Harvard & Oxford PhD who met as undergraduates at Harvard. The program is rigorous and fully virtual. We offer need-based financial aid for students who qualify. You can find the application in the brochure

To learn more, you can reach out to our Head of Growth, Khushi Malde, at or go to our website.

Multiple rolling deadlines for JEP cohorts across the year, you can apply using this application link! If you'd like to take a look at the cohorts + deadlines for 2024, you can refer to this page!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards logo



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