Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Portrait Artist of the Year 2023 (Series 10): Call for Entries

You have a four months to enter Series 10 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2023.
The deadline for entries to this prestigious art competition with a £10,000 commission first prize HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 12pm (midday) on Friday, 24th February 2023 Monday 27th February 2023

The Call for Entries for applications was published last week by Sky Arts. This is about:

  • The nature of this art competition
  • WHO can enter
  • HOW to enter
  • What the day of filming is like - and how long it lasts!
  • Plus TIPS about this art competition
  • AND TIPS about juried art exhibitions and art competitions generally (at the end).

Portrait Artist of the Year series 10

Quotations below are from the Terms and Conditions of the competition or as indicated.

About the competition

This is an art competition as a television show. Filming of Series 10 of Portrait Artist of the Year is planned to take place at (very probably) the Battersea Arts Centre in April 2023. (see below for dates in April)

  • In effect this is a 'reality' (i.e. real people/artists) knock-out competition for portrait artists.
  • Nine artists compete in each heat 
  • there are three "celebrity" sitters (some you will know/ some you won't!) 
  • each sitter has three artists drawing / painting / printing their portrait - in various 2D media
  • you have just four hours to complete a portrait
The Shortlisted Artists will have a maximum of 4 hours over a 5-6 hour period (or such other period as the Producer at its discretion may determine) to complete their Heat Artwork. 
  • The Sitter gets to choose a portrait - and if it's your portrait this is gifted to the sitter.
  • The Heat Winner - from a shortlist of three - goes through to the semi-finals
  • Eight heat winners get to compete at the Semi-Final on Wednesday 3rd May 2023
  • Three people from the semi-finals are selected for the Final on Thursday 18th May 2023 which involves:
    • a commission completed between semi final and final
    • four hours to complete the portrait of the celebrity sitter in the final
The dates and times that the Finalists shall be given to complete the first of the Final Artworks shall be determined by the Producer, and may be within a set time period on a single day or over a number of days, and the Producer may film any or all of this process. A space of the contributor’s choice must be provided free of charge by the contributor to film any or all of this process.
I'm guessing that if the National Portrait Gallery is open again by the date of the Final that the Final will be there - as it has been in previous years prior to the renovation and development of the NPG. 

The Prize

The winner is awarded a commission - worth a taxable fee of £10,000 - to create a portrait of a notable person for a (usually) prestigious organisation. 

For example, this year it's Sir Lenny Henry for the National Portrait Gallery.

If you want to know why the prize money is taxable (which I think is a new word in the T&Cs) see my page on my website Art Business Info for Artists about Tax on art awards and prize money

Artists have just four hours to complete their portrait

  • you will be interrupted by presenters or Judges who will talk to you during the four hours
  • people with cameras will be filming around you all the time and sometimes you won't be able to see the sitter - or will need to move (see below)
  • You will be at some distance from the sitter and you can't move your setup in to get closer.  (check the distance between artist and the sitter when you watch the programmes) 
  • It's a good idea to bring a digital device to take a photograph for when you can't see the sitter properly - or you can't see the details of the face clearly enough.
Filming Episode 1 of series 9 - those two front and centre are the film crew
- filming from the perspective of the artist!

Who / how / what to enter

Who can enter?

People eligible to enter the competitions have 
  • been a resident for at least one year (on 5th October 2022) of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Channel Islands or Falkland Islands 
  • hold a passport (i.e. proof of residency dates plus you may need to travel!)
  • be aged 16 or over on 5th October 2022. If you're under 18 you'll also need your parent or guardian to sign your form.
You should be in good health and able to enter the competition AND be available on the dates stated in the T&Cs. (See below for dates)
Artists with an affiliation with any of our partners (eg any of the judges/Sky/Cass/Storyvault) that could be deemed a conflict of interest MAY not be eligible to take part. 
Artists who featured in Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year Series 9 cannot apply for Series 10 - but can apply for Series 11.

Only one entry can be submitted per person. (If you're not successful you can try again in subsequent years).

Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted. (You can tell it's happened in the past!)

How do I enter?

Artists enter with a self-portrait created within the last 5 years - submitted as a digital image.

Interestingly the first episode of Series 9 suggested that the self-portrait submission could be regarded as evidence of what an artist can do when not constrained by time.

In other words, the submission can indicate what sort of commission portrait this person might be capable of.

There's a lot to be said for giving some very careful thought to the design and composition, level of finish and the size of your self-portrait.

Also bear in mind you have to transport the real painting to the Heat if you get selected! Big is impressive - but also more difficult to transport.

Bear in mind also that the submission gets considered alongside the heat painting in determining who wins the heat from the three artists who are shortlisted. 

Heat winners invariably have a close and good connection between their submission and the heat painting (i.e. apart from issues of maturity of approach and consistency of style this also confirms that this artist really painted their submission!)

and keep up with my Calls for Entries posts
and get an email to your inbox every time I publish

The Digital Submission

You need to register on their website to get access to their online application form.

READ the Terms and Conditions carefully - they matter!

The DEADLINE for Entries is has been extended to 12pm (midday) on Friday, 24th February 2023   Monday 27th February 2023


You need to submit 
  • the online application form
  • A photograph of a Self Portrait. This image should NOT  include the frame.
  • A second photograph of an additional painting. This should also be a Portrait. This image should NOT include the frame or surroundings.
  • An optional third photograph of your work.
  • One headshot photo of yourself.
The Self Portrait Entry submitted must be a Self Portrait – ie a portrait of the applicant, by the applicant, and can be produced in any material excluding photography, video, sculpture and all forms of digital media. Collage and mixed media works are all allowed. The work may be abstract or expressive as long as it is recognisably a representation of a Self Portrait that has been produced within the last five years. It should be a maximum of 1220mm high x 914mm wide.
All photographs submitted MUST:
  • be a JPEG file (no less than 800KB and no more than 5MB)
  • well-lit, composed
  • show relevant detail e.g. brushstrokes and mark-making (i.e. it needs to be a decent size and resolution for zooming in and you can see detail)
The judges will view artists’ submissions on a screen so we’re keen for all photos to have the maximum impact and do the paintings justice.
Further details on how to photograph your work can be found here.


Artists participating in one of a number of heats are selected "on merit" by a panel of expert Judges. 

Note they don't say "THE Panel of Expert Judges" i.e. the ones participating in the programme. That's because this competition will attract thousands of entries and if it's anything like competitions I've judged in the past there are people who filter out the 'no hopers' / ineligible artists before the submissions reach THE Panel of Experts. 

Your job is to make sure you are eligible and produce the best portrait you are capable of - and one which doesn't look like everybody else's. Note how selected artists very often have an unusual self-portrait and NOT the "same old same old".

Other things you really need to think about 

Dates of Heats

The first stage of the Competition will consist of eight heats (the “Heats”) intended to take place at a location to be decided in London on the following dates: 
  • Heat 1 – Tuesday 18th April 2023 
  • Heat 2 – Wednesday 19th April 2023 
  • Heat 3 - Thursday 20th April 2023 
  • Heat 4 – Friday 21st April 2023 
  • Heat 5 – Monday 24th April 2023 
  • Heat 6 – Tuesday 25th April 2023 
  • Heat 7 - Wednesday 26th April 2023 
  • Heat 8 - Thursday 27th April 2023
If you are a Shortlisted Artist, You will be given the opportunity to specify which date You would prefer but it may not always be possible to accommodate Your preference and the Producer reserves the right to invite You to any of the dates.
Followed by:
  • Semi Final - Wednesday 3rd May 2023
  • Final - Thursday 18th May 2023
If You are chosen as the Winner, You must be available between the Final Date and 4th August 2023 to produce the Winner’s Prize Artwork on exact dates to be determined by the Producer.
Note dates may change.

You will be told whether or you've been successful on 27th March 2023 - and, if successful, you must get back to them within 48 hours or you may be eliminated. 

So make sure you put that date in your diary and note what it says in the T&Cs.

There are no expenses as such

There's a nominal (small) sum as a contribution to expenses you will incur.

This is the same for everybody irrespective of where you live and is only intended as a contribution towards  the costs of travel and overnight accommodation costs (if required). Most people travelling from outside London will be out of pocket.

They do feed you when you arrive (basic) and at lunchtime, plus provide coffee and tea and refill water bottles.

It's a VERY, VERY long day - as in c.12 hours

  • You are required to be there at 7.15 am - so most people stay overnight nearby.
  • The day finishes at 6.30 and you MUST stay to the end.
  • However if you want your painting back, they will wrap it for you and you might not get away before 7.30pm. 

Basically there's a LOT of things which have to be done with nine separate people and there's a LOT of waiting around e.g.
  • photograph you with your painting in the early morning before you start
  • interview you at the end about what you thought about the winner's painting
You also need to be
  • introduced to people working on the show, 
  • get kitted out to participate
  • be briefed about how things will work and 
  • shown where you will work. 
This is a quote from a past participant
Before painting starts we were held in a waiting room. They came and wired us up for sound, got us to record the pronunciation of our names, got introduced to our runners and various producers came and told us what would be happening.
It's emphatically NOT a day for 
  • people who like to "do their own thing" or 
  • those who have a tendency to get uptight about being told what to do or how things will be. They have had meltdowns before now.....
  • people who don't like a lot of other people around them or need absolute quiet while they paint.
If you get selected. you are recommended to get some earphones and plug in to block out other noises and keep you "in the zone".

Tips if you are successful

Past heat winners, finalists and competition winners have told me they read my reviews with tips for things to think about before participating in the heats

You can find the links to my past reviews listed on 
Have a game plan but not one that is so rigid you can’t change it. Plan with 3 Cs in mind: composition, colour and contrast… it helps your work stand out. Series 9 / Episode 1 participant

More information about Art Exhibitions, Juried Shows & Art Competitions

You may also be interested in my pages on Art Business Info for Artists about:
Why art competitions are important to artists | Art Business Info. for Artists
Why art competitions are important to artists | Art Business Info. for Artists

Reviews & Learning Points (PAOTY Series 5-8)

Series 8 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Autumn 2021)

Series 7 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Autumn 2020)

Series 6 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Spring 2020)

Series 5 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Winter/Spring 2019)

Series 4 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Winter / Spring 2018)

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