Monday, January 19, 2015

RA Summer Exhibition 2015: Call for 12,000 entries

How to enter the world's largest open art exhibition

This post is about the entry process for the world's largest open submission art competition - the 2015 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.
  • for those who have not submitted before - and
  • for those who have just forgotten how and need a reminder!
The exhibition showcases painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.
In 2013, nearly 70% of the exhibits were by non-Academicians, £70,000 worth of prizes was awarded and over 5,000 works were sold.
If you're keen to enter, you'll be disappointed if you are not one of the first 12,000 entries - because they are only accepting that number for the first round of screening.

So avoid being disappointed, as some artists were last year, and DO NOT LEAVE IT TOO LATE to get a form to submit your work!

My view arriving for the preview of the Summer Exhibition in June 2014
they were setting up for the glitzy preview with the celebrities in the evening!

If you're not sure whether or not you want to submit your work, why not check out my review of the Summer Exhibition 2014 at the Royal Academy of Arts - it contains lots of images of the selected art hung on the walls of this enormous exhibition.


The key documents you MUST read are:
I'll try and make sense of these below.  Here's a brief summary of some tips I highlighted last year

Tips for submission

  • The forms are not transferable - and nor are the bar codes. So you can't get a form off a friend.
  • You must state the media used for drawings, prints and sculpture.
  • Transportation is not organised by the Royal Academy. Expenses of submission are the responsibility of the artist.
  • You cannot submit work by post
  • Work must be unpacked before it is submitted. However:
    • framed work will be rejected if it has any projection or hanging fixtures on the reverse of the work. Pictures are stacked and hence there must be nothing which can scratch another work.
    • to avoid frames being damaged, artists are recommended to ensure soft padding protects all the corners of all artwork submitted.
  • Don't forget to complete both the tie-on and other labels and apply the bar codes properly - NOT job to be done in a rush!
I've also got a couple of generic posts about entering art competitions which lots of people have told me they find useful. They are:

Who's organising it this year?

I find that those selected to select are a good indication of what type of art might be favoured.  See what you make of the RAs who are on the 2015 Selection and Hanging Committee
The judges will shortlist up to 4,000 entries to be delivered to the Academy for a second round
The Summer Exhibition Coordinator for 2015 is Irish born and American educated Michael Craig-Martin.  This is his website - and I think I've just spotted the person influential in determining the RA's new website (which I actually dislike - it's ditched all the links to past exhibitions!). Either that or he got a makeover for his site from the bod who did the RA site!

He's going to be assisted in relation to Selection and Hanging by the 2015 Committee who are listed below. The link in their name is to the RA webpage for this individual and the their own personal website is also listed if available.


Engravers, Printmakers and Draughtsmen


Architects and Designers

Installation view of Summer Exhibition 2014
c. Benedict Johnson/Royal Academy of Arts
The 2015 Process - Timeline and how to enter

Stages of the submission process are in red.  It's a complicated process for those new to the Summer Exhibition. This is a process which is desperately in need of a flow chart!

Before you start you might like to take a look at some images of the process of putting together a Summer Exhibition in previous years (just keep scrolling down - there are some interesting perspectives)

Who can enter

  • Anybody can enter. 
  • There is no upper or lower age limit. 
  • You don't have to live in the UK or be a college trained artist.

What can you enter

Works where you created and where you hold all the relevant intellectual property rights

By submitting a Work(s) when you are the Artist of such Work(s), you confirm that you hold all intellectual property rights in the Work(s) and that you have obtained any third party consents required for the use of third party owned material contained in the Work(s).

You can enter anything which is not listed as inadmissable

Inadmissible Works

The following types of work are inadmissible:
  • works that are over the specified size limit of 244 x 350cm (excluding sculpture and architectural models)
  • works that have already been exhibited in a major institution in London (excluding prints)
  • printed reproductions of original artworks
  • works that contain noxious or toxic substances, have flammability below 50°c or incorporate dangerous electrical appliances; or
  • editions of sculptures cast in materials that are different to the materials of the exhibited work

The Deadline for Entries

  • The Absolute Deadline: Midnight (GMT) Friday 13 February 2014 - RA closes online entry 
  • Bit it could be earlier if more than 12,000 entry forms are purchased.  Once the forms are sold they are sold!

Submission - Round 1 - Screening of ALL ENTRIES via digital image

What you need to complete a digital entry.

The RA Summer Exhibition website opened for business on 6 January 2015. This is where you create and complete your digital submission of your entry (i.e. obtain and pay for your entry form, complete submission of your online entry form and upload digital images).

  • You must be able to access a computer and you must have an email address because ALL entries are digital 
  • EITHER register on the 2015 Summer Exhibition website and open an online account. If making a submission on behalf of somebody you need to be authorised to do so and you must verify your email address before you can proceed
  • OR login to your online account set up in a previous year - see top right hand corner of the Summer Exhibition 2015 Home Page (you did remember to keep the details of your account name and password didn't you?  If you've forgotten this is how to get a new password)
There are two types of Entry Form: one for submitting one Work and another for submitting two Works.
  • Next you have to order and pay for your Entry FormYou cannot submit without one of the entry forms for the 12,000 artworks which will entered (this is a cap - in the past people have tried to submit more works than this). You cannot get a refund if you do not use it. It is your forum - and cannot be transferred to anybody else
    • Payment  of entry fees is via the website - entry fee per painting is £25 - payable online by credit or debit card. (Entry is free to Full-time students at recognised art schools and Watercolour Artist Friends) 
    • payment must be made BEFORE you can upload a digital file for the painting 
  • Next you need to upload your digital images of your artwork and complete the entry details of your one or two artworks
  • If you are an international entrant you need to read the rules on VAT very carefully 
  • (subsequently) monitor the progress of your entry - Results of the first round screening process (judging from digital images) will be announced on 13th March  Notification will be via email 
The Selection Committee will shortlist up to 4,000 entries to be delivered to the Academy for a second round of judging. Shortlisted works from the first round of judging will be announced on Friday 13 March 2015.

Submission - Round 2 - Screening delivered works on shortlist

For the next stage the shortlisted works need to be delivered to the RA.
Transportation will not be organised by the Royal Academy and expenses associated with transport shall not be borne by the RA.
  • Monday 30-31 March (8am – 7pm) and 1 April 8am – 1pm: UK Artists (Artist’s Book, Drawing, Painting, Photograph, Print, Mixed Media, Watercolour)
  • Wednesday 29th April (8am – 7pm): Sculpture
  • Wednesday 29 April (8am – 7pm) International Artists (Shortlisted works in any category and medium)
  • Thursday 30 April (8am – 7pm): Architecture (Models and Wall-Based Works)
  • 2 May - Second round of judging of shortlisted works
  • 22 May - Announcement of the Final Selection
The date you deliver your shortlisted artwork will depend on your country of residence (as completed on your Entry Form) and the type of work you have submitted.

Collection Dates and Times

Works which are not selected and/or hung must be collected.
  • 11 May – 5 June works not selected from shortlisted works
  • 21 May – 5 June works not selected for final hang
  • 22 August - 11 September - works exhibited in the Summer Exhibition (ie you are responsible for shipping the work to the purchaser - and can do so once you've got a Removal Order)

Specific queries

For specific questions on the process not answered in the FAQs document, you will need to email the RA Summer Exhibition Team via the website form. Replies may take up to 3 working day.

Summer Exhibition 2015

The 2014 Summer Exhibition takes place between 9 June – 17 August.

Past posts


  1. Fantastic article Katherine.

    I agonised for days after purchasing my form over which work to enter. In the end I researched all of the selectors and chose my piece, as you always recommend doing!

    Just one little point, Olwyn Bowey is most definitely a man! Which only leaves one female selector this year!

    Thanks again!

  2. Apologies to Olwyn Bowey, and to you Katherine! That's the trouble with only looking at internet images!


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