Who can enter the VAO awards?

The competition is open to both amateur and professional artists, working in one or more of the following media: drawing, printing, painting, photography, digital art, sculpture & young artists (16 -24)

What is the submission procedure?

The main stages: Call for Entries, Phase 1, Phase 2 & the final Phase 3

Artists will be notified if they have been shortlisted by email.

Why we have 3 Phases

We run 3 Phases through the year. All phases are exactly the same, we simply run it in phases to cut down the amount of artwork that is sent to the judges at one time. All artwork is judged the same, so it does not matter what phase in the competition you enter

The overall winner of the VAO will be awarded:

  • A cash prize to support the production of new works

  • Solo Show at Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair 

  • Annual Mentorship Programme  

  • International Online Global Art Exhibition of Finalists

  • Free Career Development Talks

  • 20% Discount with Cass Art

  • Certificate 

£250 for each winning category and plus exhibition place.

Application Open: including submission of image

VAO has 3 Phases that Artists can enter.

Artists must submit an image(s) of their work and complete the online form by the deadline of the final phase three, 12 midnight on 15th June 2021. The jury then views and discusses the entries from the digital image submitted. This process is anonymous: jurors are not given the names of the artists but are provided with the following information: title, size, and medium.

The jurors are selected and appointed by VAO. The members can be artists, writers, art critics, collectors and curators from the international contemporary art world. 

When is the Call for Entries for the VAO?

Call for Entries: registration and payment

Artists are invited to register and pay their entry fee online. The artist will then receive a confirmation email within 5 working days of entering the competition. If you have not received an email from us then please email info@visualartopen.com

Shortlisted Artists:

Shortlisted artists will be notified by email that they have been selected for the final stage of judging. Finalists will be notified if they are successful in the awards and be invited to attend the VAO exhibition.

How much does it cost to enter?

£20 for 1st submission and £10 per additional artwork, totalling a maximum of £60. Young Artists under the age of 24 pay £15 for 1st submission and £10 per additional artwork, totalling a maximum of £55 for 5 artworks entered.  

Where can I view the full terms and conditions of entry?

How many images of the work can I send in?

How do I register?

Artists can enter via our website or using:

Email: info@visualartopen.com

Post: Suite C 2nd Floor, 9 Abbey Square, Chester, CH1 2HU

Tel: 01244 952020

You may send a maximum of two images per submission.

Can I enter if I am not a trained artist?


How many works can I enter?

A maximum of 5 works are permitted.

When do I submit my image?

Within the online application form, you can upload your images, if you have any trouble doing so please email us. 

How recent does the work need to be?

The painting must be a new or recent work, preferably created in the past 3 years.

What happens if I change my postal or email address, or phone number, after entering?

Do you have an upper age limit to enter?

16 +

Do I have to frame my paintings?

If you have been shortlisted, you will be required to send your work framed in preparation of events where your artwork will be showcased.

Can I enter using an alternative exhibiting name?

Artists can use a pseudonym or exhibiting name.

Please inform VAO and we will amend our records.

Can VAO advise me on how much I should charge for my painting?

We can put you in touch with an independent art valuation expert who will be able offer guidance. 

Do I get any say in how my work is displayed?

The exhibition layout is determined by the jurors and the curators.

Does my work need to be for sale?

What happens if my work has been sold?

Yes finalists work will be placed on sale in the final exhibition, and VAO will exclusively undertake all sales of shortlisted paintings in the exhibition.

When will I find out if I have been shortlisted?

All artists who have been successful will be contacted in August and their details published online.

If my work is accepted, when is the private view for exhibitors?

VAO will contact you as soon as possible after the sale and you will be contacted about payment. After the exhibition, we will arrange for the purchaser to collect the work.

Will there be an illustrated catalogue for the 2021 exhibition?

Yes, the exhibition will be accompanied by a full colour catalogue featuring images of all the paintings in the exhibition.

You will be contacted to be advised on the dates.

Can I find out who has bought my work?

The name of the purchaser of a work is shared with the artist of that work unless the purchaser has requested otherwise.

Will I be able to check and approve my catalogue entry?

VAO will ask you to confirm your details in advance; however approval is done by the organisers.