Monday, November 05, 2012

NEW! The Derwent Art Prize - for pencil art

Derwent Pencils today announced The Derwent Art Prize - a brand new art prize for artists working in pencil.  The winner will receive £5,000 so I expect this new art competition may well generate some considerable interest amongst pencil artists working with coloured pencils, water-soluble pencils, pastel pencils, graphite or charcoal.

I think it's a brilliant idea and recommend all those who draw to take a close look at the details.

The Derwent Art Prize

Aim of the Competition
The aim of the Prize is to reward excellence through showcasing the very best international works created in pencil.
Inaugural Exhibition

It's expected that some 80 works will be selected for the exhibition - which will then be displayed in three different ways


The prizes will be awarded at the Private View at Mall Galleries, London on 18 September 2013 and are as follows:
  • First prize - £5,000
  • Second Prize - £2,500
  • Third Prize - £500
  • People's Choice Award - £500
  • UKCPS Award for Excellence - £250 (The UKCPS Award for Excellence also includes a year's membership to the society)

Entries are be judged by a distinguished panel of selectors - with two of them having a particular interest in Drawing as an art form
The competition rules state that all works will be judged anonymously with no segregation by country, genre or style etc.

Call for Entries

So - as always with a Call for Entries - here's my overview and analysis of what they're asking you to do.  Those interested should also make sure they read
The competition and exhibition organisers are Parker Harris - and I expect you will also find details of this competition on their website in due course.  Further enquiries about the competition should be addressed to Parker Harris, on: or Tel. + 44 (0) 1372 462190 - but do look at the FAQs first!

Who can enter?
  • Nationality: The Prize is open to all British and international artists 
  • Age: All entrants must be over the age of 18 years old on 1st July 2013.  You also have to be alive!
Eligible artwork

Artwork eligible for this competition must comply with the following criteria:
  • Media: artwork must be created in pencil (including water-soluble, pastel, graphite, charcoal or colouring pencils). 
  • Format: open to both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional works.
  • Size: maximum size: 182cms any dimension. There is no minimum size limit. 
  • Date completed: All entered work must have been completed within the last 3 years. 
  • Availability: All artwork selected for exhibition must be available from 9 September to 31 December 2013.
  • For Sale / Price of artwork: Works selected for exhibition MAY be offered for sale. Pricing the artwork needs to factor in a charge of 40% commission plus VAT which will be applied to the sale price of all works sold during the exhibitions or afterwards directly as a result of the Derwent Art Prize both at the exhibitions and on the website.
What to submit - online

Entry is digital and artists need to register for an account before they can submit their entry

Artists are required to submit the following:
  • Entry form - completed online
  • Images: up to 6 recent works, in digital format 
    • file format: jpg, tiff or png (a slight confusion here - the FAQs state jpeg only whereas the entry conditions state jpg, tiff or png - when confused, I always go with the conditions of entry!)
    • maximum size: 4MB file size and "3000 x 3000 pixels resolution" (Note: again we seem to have a confusion between dimensions and dpi - FAQs state 300 dpi)
  • Fee: A non-refundable £10 application fee for the first work and £2 per additional works (price and currency will vary depending on country).

Here's the overview of key dates for this competition

1 July 2013
Deadline for entry
15 July 2013
All artists notified of results of the first stage of the selection process
w/c 9 September 2013
Deliver work to the Mall Galleries
16-21 September 2013
Inaugural Exhibition at the Mall Galleries
18 September 2013
Private View and Prize Winners announced
1 October - 31 December 2013
UK Exhibition Tour (work selected must be available for this period as well as the Mall Galleries exhibition)

Delivery of work

The entry conditions are very explicit about the way in which work should be submitted - for both UK and International Artists. There are no regional collection points and it is expected that artists not living in London will need to use courier services as works must be delivered unwrapped.


Derwent are only liable for any negligence on their part. Artists may wish to ensure they have appropriate cover for all other risks eg damage in transit.

Copyright / Withdrawal of work
Each artist by entering the Derwent Art Prize confirms that they hold all intellectual property rights in the work and that they have obtained prior written approval for the use of any third party copyrighted material contained in the submitted work.
In other words this needs to be an original work of art and no other image can be copied without the written approval of the copyright owner of that image.  (If you are unclear about copyright see Copyright for Artists)

The exhibition organisers also indicate that they will deny entry or withdraw a work from exhibition if there is anything to suggest that exhibiting the work exposes Derwent to legal proceedings.

Conclusion and Comments

I'm very pleased that pencil art is to get its own prize and exhibition.  Also that the prizes on offer are likely to generate some very serious entries from professional artists.

It's certainly the first time I can remember such a generous prize for pencil art.  I'm minded to tip off a few artists of my acquaintance about the need to read this post and take a close look at the conditions for entry!

So - what do you think of this new idea?


  1. I agree - wonderful to see pencil art generating generous prizes. I hope this is the beginning of a trend!

    1. Wouldn't that be nice! :)

      I'm not sure it'll ever get up to the £25,000 offered by the most prestigious competitions in the UK but creating a competition with an attractive prize will certainly generate a lot of good quality entries which hopefully will result in an exhibition full of excellent pencil art which in turn can generate more sponsorship etc. Rather like a virtuous circle.

  2. So, you've got to be British, or international? Huh?

    Is there a subtle nuance here that I'm missing?

    1. Gary - sorry if I have caused you to be a bit confused or maybe your query relates to grammatical semantics?

      For the record, normally all art competitions stipulate the nationality of those eligible to enter. Many competitions limit entries to the nationality of the host.

      In this instance it's an art competition being run by a British company and naturally it's open to British artists. However given the aim of the competition it's also open to artists from all over the world - and the usual shorthand used by all competitions is "international".

      Does that help?

  3. Absolutely! Super news. Pencils rock and it is really about time the whole world discovers just how fantastic pencil work can be! I might even give it a shot. Thank you once again Katherine for keeping us up to speed :D Best

  4. Sounds like a great competition thanks for sharing!

  5. sounds great, my pencils are sharpened and am ready to enter! Just one query, it states it is a digital entry but then a little further down it states there are couriers for certain regions. Does the entry need to be posted in as well as uploaded?


    1. Linset - the competition has two different stages in relation to the submission of images. The first stage is by digital entry - with the image preferably submitted online.

      The second stage only relates to those artists whose artwork has been selected for the exhibition. The selected artwork has to be delivered to the gallery - which is when the couriers get involved.

      Basically - submission of the work is at no cost to the artist other than the entry fee( ie no couriers or travel costs involved).

      However if you did get selected you'd want to take advice as to which is the best method of getting the work to the Mall Galleries and delivering it unpacked (ie they don't store your packing materials)

    2. Sorry - that should read Linsey

      Also re. the last sentence, the Mall Galleries will not store packing materials but couriers engaged to take and retrieve probably will.

  6. Im happy to see a revival in traditional art....its easy to get caught up on the digital wave.
    I feel the need for a balance in my own work, a mix of traditional and digital though not necessarily within the same piece...the skills needed for each compliment the other :)
    And while wacom tablets are pretty awesome, Im sure we all know that inspiring freshly sharpened pencil smell!

  7. Hi! Thanks for this great info about this competition. I was wondering about the copyright aspect. (Sorry for my english, I am Southamerican).

    I have recently used an image I found in Google and I drew that and painted it. How would copyright operate there? Of course I would have no problem mentioning who took the photo, but I have no info about that.... I just liked the picture and decided to paint about that... What can/should I do?

    1. If you read my post you will see that it states very clearly the following

      "Each artist by entering the Derwent Art Prize confirms that they hold all intellectual property rights in the work and that they have obtained prior written approval for the use of any third party copyrighted material contained in the submitted work."

      1. You don't own the copyright - so you can't enter it
      2. If you had got permission from the copyright owner - in writing - BEFORE submitting an entry then it could be considered

      Personally, I'd never ever submit work to a competition unless I OWNED the copyright of the image.

  8. Yes, you are right. Thanks for your feedback. And I have another question... If I own the copyright of an image, lets say a photo I took myself... there is no need to state that, is there?

  9. It's normal for the submission form to state that by entering you confirm that you have all copyright / intellectual property rights in the work. Thus by signing the form this is what you are saying - if you took the photo

    Having access to a photo is not the same as owning the copyright. Only the person who actually took the photo has the copyright.

  10. Excellent. Thank you very much. Your explanation is very clear.


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