Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Call for Entries: Series 11 of Portrait Artist of the Year

At noon today, the competition to enter Series 11 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2024 OPENS. 
  • This is a prestigious art competition - televised by Sky Arts
  • It has a £10,000 commission as first prize.
  • The deadline for entries is NOON on Friday 2nd February 2024 (Note it's not uncommon for the deadline to be extended)
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).

About the competition

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

This is an art competition as a television show. 

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. 

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 and/or Do artists have to pay tax on art prizes?

How it works - a summary

  • Filming of Series 11 of Portrait Artist of the Year is planned to take place at (very probably) the Battersea Arts Centre in April 2024. (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! There's a good mix of age, sex, gender, ethnicity and background)
  • each sitter has three artists drawing / painting / printing their portrait - in various 2D media
  • you have just four hours to complete a portrait - unless you work through lunch which some do.
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 
  • Three people from the semi-finals are selected for the Final  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 might be there - as it used to be in previous years prior to the works to renovate and develop the NPG.

TIP You need to know about the location conditions!

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 any  closer. (check the distance between artist and the sitter when you watch the programmes)
  • It's a really good idea to bring a digital device to take a photograph for when 
    • either 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

This is the link to the Terms and Conditions of Entry

Who can enter?

People eligible to enter the competitions have
  • been a resident for at least one year (on 4th October 2023) 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 4th October 2023. 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 10 cannot apply for Series 11 - but can apply for Series 12.
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.


I highly recommend you consider the following:
  • Heat winners invariably have a close and good connection between their submission and the heat painting. 
    • The submission always gets considered alongside the heat painting in determining who wins the heat from the three artists who are shortlisted 
    • i.e. apart from issues of maturity of approach and consistency of style, the comparison also confirms that this artist really painted their submission!
  • the submission can indicate what sort of commission portrait this person might be capable of i.e. the self-portrait submission can suggest evidence of what an artist can do when NOT constrained by time
  • 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.

- 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 12pm (midday) on Friday, 4th February 2024 


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.
  • All photographs of artwork submitted MUST be a maximum size of 15mb, photographs of a greater size may not be able to be uploaded. 
  • One headshot photo of yourself - which should be a maximum size of 5mb.
The Self Portrait Entry submitted must be a Self Portrait – i.e. 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. The Additional Work(s) of Art submitted, at least one compulsory, can be any size, and can also be in any material other than photography, video, sculpture or any form of digital media
All your entries will be viewed on a screen so be sure to check out what they look like on a screen!

Further details on how to photograph your work can be found here.


Previous comments about selection seem to have been removed.

I can tell you what I know about selections for some competitions that draw a lot of interest. It's not unusual to employ people to do a screening job i.e. to exclude the "no hopers" of which there can be an awful lot!

In general, the Judges of a competition only get involved once that initial screening has been done relating to ability to enter; compliance with the terms and conditions and the an initial review of artwork

Note carefully the obligation to disclose any past or present criminal/civil actions and the fact that the Producers may conduct background checks (including but not limited to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to verify any information supplied.
i.e. the big "don't go there" of anybody applying to a be on a television programme is to provide the programme with unwelcome publicity that they hadn't for an inkling about!

TIP Your job is to 
  • make sure you are eligible and 
  • make sure you comply with all terms and conditions
  • 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".

Dates and Locations

Dates of Heats

If You are chosen as a Shortlisted Artist or a Reserve Shortlisted Artist, You must be available for filming between 26th March and 6th April 2024
Note: All the dates are earlier than previous years

The first stage of the Competition will consist of eight heats (the “Heats”) intended to take place at a location to be decided on the following dates:
  • Heat 1 – Tuesday 26th March 2024
  • Heat 2 – Wednesday 27th March 2024
  • Heat 3 – Thursday 28th March 2024
  • Heat 4 – Tuesday 2nd April 2024
  • Heat 5 – Wednesday 3rd April 2024
  • Heat 6 – Thursday 4th April 2024
  • Heat 7 – Friday 5th April 2024
  • Heat 8 – Saturday 6th April 2024
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 - Tuesday 9th April 2024
  • Final - Tuesday 23rd April 2024

Location of Heats

There's no statement as to where the heats, semi-final or Final will be held but they have previously been held at Battersea Arts Centre and I'm assuming there would have to be a very good reason to move from there as it provides such a good space. The fact that all the heats are on dates close together also suggests it will be one location only for the Heats. 
If You are chosen as the Winner, You must be available between the Final Date and 5th August 2024 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 4th March 2024
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.

Other things you NEED TO KNOW!

There are no expenses as such. 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.
  • this changes for the semi-finals and final
If You are chosen as a Semi-Finalist or Finalist and are asked to travel away from home or are invited to attend the Final, the Producer shall supply and pay for Your reasonable and pre-agreed travel and hotel costs plus a daily allowance of £25 per day, or part thereof.

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.
TIP If you get selected. I recommend you 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 
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

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 5-9)

Series 9 of PORTRAIT ARTIST OF THE YEAR (Autumn 2022)

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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