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Judging Criteria for an Art Contest

A man and a woman looking at a painting.
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Art is very subjective, so a piece of art that you like might be offensive or unenjoyable to others, and vice versa. For this reason, set judging criteria are necessary in an art contest, 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 generally always 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, if they are realistic paintings, control of the medium, quality of the colors and balance between colors and design.

Clarity of Theme

An art contest is often centered around a theme and the participants are asked to create a piece of art symbolizing 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 style of 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. Judging criteria are made public prior to the contest and should be available to 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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