Wednesday, January 02, 2019

RA Summer Exhibition 2019: Call for 12,000 entries

Digital entries for the 2019 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts can start being submitted online from tomorrow - 3rd January 2018.

This post is about how to enter the world's largest open submission art competition showcasing painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.
  • for those who have not submitted before - and
  • for those who have just forgotten how and need a reminder!
The Summer Exhibition 2019 this year runs from Monday June 10 2019 - Monday August 12 2019.

View of Summer Exhibition 2018 (c) David Parry.jpg      
The Summer Exhibition 2018 generated more than £5 million in artwork sales, many of which were made online, and attracted 300,000 visitors.

10 things you need to know about entering the RA's Summer Exhibition 2019

Artists wishing to enter the 2019 Summer Exhibition need to know six things up front and four more things which help them understand what the chances are of getting selected
  • Entry to the RA Summer Exhibition opens on 3rd January 2019 (tomorrow)
  • If your entry is not one of the first 12,000 entries received you won't be exhibited. The RA only accept 12,000 entries for the first round of screening digital entries. Leave it too late to buy an entry and you will not be entering. [UPDATE: The RA have informed me that they eliminated the 12,0000 CAP on the number of entries two years ago - although I confess I never saw an announcement]
  • ALL entries - for the initial screening - are digital
  • You must buy an online entry form to be able to enter and 
    • you can't get a form until you have Summer Exhibition Account
    • you MUST decide whether you want an entry form for one work or two works BEFORE you make your purchase (i.e. you can't buy a second form for one work later)
  • You must have an Summer Exhibition Online Account to enter:
    • If you have submitted before you already have one of these  - you just need to remember how to access it!
    • If you've not submitted before you need to register and they will then send you a link to your new account. See FAQ: How to create an account 
    • Having an account does not mean you can submit work - but it does mean you can buy an entry form
    • The price per entry is £35 per work. (Note: Complaining about the fee is really boring - and ignorant. This exhibitions raises funds for students to get a FREE education at the RA Schools. Plus nobody makes you enter and if you think the RA is totally obnoxious don't even bother contemplating an entry - you can stop reading here!)
    • No payment = no entry. 
    • No refunds if you don't use the form
  • The deadline for entries is midnight on Wednesday 13 February 2019 (i.e. you have six weeks!)
    • You can edit and save your artwork details - and then wait to submit - until you submit your Entry Form - but once submitted there can be no changes
  • Stage 1: Digital Image Screening
    • Shortlisted works from the first round of selection will be announced on [THIS IS AN UPDATE] Thursday 14 March 2019
    • Only one third (c.4,000) will be shortlisted for the second round of selection. 
  • Stage 2: Screening by the Selection Panel 
    • You must deliver unwrapped artwork on specific days at specific times - depending on what it is (see Instructions - para 2) between 30 April and 2nd May
    • If you get through to the second stage you will then have between 15 - 20% chance of getting your work included in the exhibition - something like 700 exhibits by non-RA members.
    • The final list of exhibitors for the Summer Exhibition will be announced [THIS IS AN UPDATE] on MONDAY 20 May 2019
  • Lots of people are just like you! 
    • Lots of people enter and do not get selected. Probably best to assume you won't and hope you will.
    • Lots of people enter and don't tell anyone - unless their work gets selected for the exhibition! 
    • So if you want to keep quiet you've got lots of good company 
  • Lots of people don't read all the instructions
    • Typically they're the ones who don't get selected either.
    • Often they make out they meant to enter but forgot. That's often because they put off reading the instruction. Often because they really don't like reading lots of extremely long instructions.
    • They should have read this post!!
The deadline for registering to enter the Summer Exhibition and submitting the digital photographs of your work online is 23:59 (GMT) on Wednesday 13 February 2019. Entries cannot be submitted after this deadline.


Grayson wants you to enter!

The key documents you MUST read are:
Below I provide
  • tips for submission, about competitions generally and about the Summer Exhibition specifically
  • a summary of the process, timeline and what artwork is ineligible for entry.
  • important points in relation to framing your art and pricing your art.
  • summary of prizes - just in case your artwork gets selected and hung!

Tips for submission

Here's a brief summary of some tips.
  • Buy your form as quickly as you can As previously advised last year, get your form to submit your work as soon as you can!  If you wait until the deadline you may well find the limit on the number of entry forms sold has already been reached. The numbers wanting to submit are well in excess of the 12,000 allowed. You can then delay submission - but you shouldn't delay buying!
  • The forms are not transferable - and nor are the barcodes. So you can't "ask a friend" for a form - nor can you sell one to another artist.
  • Submission is DIGITAL ONLY. You cannot submit work by post. You can get a friend to help you do this if you're not very savvy about digital matters
  • Transportation is not organised by the Royal Academy. Expenses of submission are the responsibility of the artist 
  • Work must be unpacked before it is 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!
  • Barcodes are non-transferable and correspond to particular works. No swapping allowed!

Summer Exhibition Specific TIPS

  • Don't misuse your Entry Form once bought - it's just not worth it. There are always other years....
In the event of misuse of Your Entry Form, where it transpires that You have used more than one Entry Form, the RA reserves the right to ban You from entering the forthcoming Exhibition and any Exhibition in the future.
  • Don't mess with legal title or copyright - your work should EITHER be your own completely original work OR if it has been derived from the work of others you need to be able to demonstrate that you have the permission to use that work - otherwise you might foot the bill for legal costs for yourself AND the RA in the event of a dispute. 
  • Do not mess with Health and Safety - there have very obviously been "issues" previously (reported and unreported) and YOU will own ALL the liability if somebody gets injured, killed or you burn down Burlington House
You must ensure that each submitted Work conforms to all applicable health and safety standards and regulations
  • Do NOT let your gallery confuse the issue - You gallery must NOT submit a work on your behalf unless it has already obtained your express WRITTEN authorisation to do so. So if you have any discussions with your gallery about submitting work, make sure you are 100% clear as to who is taking the lead and who is doing the paperwork.
  • If you're stuck on pricing: you can try consulting the section on How to Price Your Art on my Art Business Info website 

Tips for entering art competitions

I've also got a few generic posts about entering art competitions which lots of people have told me they find useful. They are:
plus one specifically for the Summer Exhibition

The Process


  • Call for Entries 
    • opens for submissions - 3 January 2019
    • closes - Wednesday 13 February 2019
  • Selection Results
    • first round (digital images) - 14 March 2019 (you then have 6 weeks to make delivery on specified dates)
    • final round (shortlisted works) - 18 May 2019 
  • Delivery of shortlisted works
    • Architecture - 30 April 8am-5pm
    • Sculpture - 2 May 8am-5pm
    • All other categories - 1 May 8am-7pm

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 that you created and where you hold all the relevant intellectual property rights (or are otherwise authorised to enter)
You may submit Work(s) to the Exhibition if You are the Artist or creator of the Work(s)
By submitting Your Work(s), You confirm that the Work(s) is free and clear of any liens, claims, encumbrances or restrictions, that the use of the Work(s) under these Terms will not infringe upon or violate the rights of any person or entity, and that to the best of Your knowledge and belief the Work(s) has not been exported from any country and shall not be imported into the United Kingdom in violation of any applicable laws or regulations.

If You do not own all of the rights, title and interest in and to the Work(s), You must expressly inform the RA in writing of all relevant details concerning all other third parties’ rights to the Work(s).
You can enter anything which is not listed as "inadmissible". In other words they've stopped saying "what art is".

The following types of work are inadmissible:

  • limits on size and weight: works that are over the specified size limit of 244 x 350cm (excluding sculpture and architectural models, where any one part should not exceed 200cm on the longest side and the total weight must be no more than 3,000kg when packed);
  • no prior exhibitions: works that have already been exhibited in a major institution in London (excluding prints)
  • no multiples of original works printed reproductions of original artworks (please refer to the FAQs);
  • no dangerous artworks: works that contain noxious or toxic substances, have flammability below 50°c or incorporate dangerous electrical appliances; (Note: all electrical appliances must be accompanied by current PAT test certification.) or
  • no kidding! editions of sculptures cast in materials that are different to the materials of the exhibited work

Framing your art

All two-dimensional works submitted must be framed. The use of simple, neutral coloured frames is strongly encouraged. Metal, glass and Perspex clip frames are not acceptable.
  • All two-dimensional works submitted must be framed - and you need to pad the corners for the stacks (see above)
It is important that you remove your fixtures as they may not meet with our standards and they might cause damage to other artworks. If your shortlisted work is selected for the exhibition, we will affix our standard hanging fixtures to the frame. FAQS
    • 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.
    • If you submit an unframed work, this is strictly at your own risk.
  • You only have to frame one print - you can sell further prints from from the edition without a frame
  • You can also consult the section on How to Frame Your Art on my Art Business Info website
For sculpture and architecture models you should not deliver display plinths for your work

Selling Work

Basic rules for how sale of artwork works:

  • YOU are making the sale - not the RA.
    • the RA will charge an introduction fee (commission) for introducing you to a potential buyer (i.e. somebody who has already expressed an interest in buying your work
  • YOU MUST follow the process you agree to abide by when entering
  • YOU are responsible for all the sales documentation and charging VAT if required
  • YOU are responsible for complete compliance with all government regulations relating to ecommerce and distance selling
[See my website page E-commerce for Artists - on Art Business Info for Artists. This provides outline guidance on the nature of the requirements for distance selling and transactions online and links to and quotes from relevant government website pages]
  • The buyer can withdraw before you contact them and agree a sale
  • Shipping costs on UK sales of unframed prints MUST NOT be added. You should have included the cost of shipping in the price of the work. Ditto if you live overseas you should have included international postage on unframed prints in your price
  • You are responsible for the work until received by the buyer - ergo you are also responsible for delivery of the contract and need to insure the artwork during transit.


There are a number of valuable prizes - although best advice is don't get your hopes up!
  • The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award - £25,000 awarded by a panel of judges appointed by the President and Council for the most distinguished work in the exhibition
  • The Jack Goldhill Award for Sculpture - £10,000 for a sculpture
  • Turkishceramics Grand Award for Architecture - £10,000 awarded to the most outstanding work of architecture. 
  • The British Institution Awards for Students - Two prizes of £5,000 and £3,000 for work across a comprehensive range of creative disciplines from painting to architecture
  • The Hugh Casson Drawing Prize - £5,000 for an original work on paper in any medium, where the emphasis is clearly on drawing. 
  • The London Original Print Fair Prize - £2,500 for a print in any medium
  • The Arts Club Award - £2,500 awarded to an artist aged 35 or under for a work in any medium except architecture
  • The Sunny Dupree Family Award for a Woman Artist - £4,000 for a painting or sculpture
  • The Rose Award for Photography - £1,000 for a photograph or series of photographs

Specific queries

For specific questions on the process not answered in any of the very specific Guidance Notes you will need to email the RA Summer Exhibition Team via the 'Contact Us' website form. Note that replies may take up to 3 working days.

I strongly recommend you make very sure that the answer is not available in the information they supply before asking your question. There's very rarely anything new under the sun! :)

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