Bluethumb Art Prize 2020: Launching Our Biggest and Best Yet

After a year hiatus, next month (entries open 1st October – make a note in your diaries!) we’re bringing back our innovative art prize when Australian artists need it most. While many art prizes have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID lockdowns and restrictions, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make our Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 the biggest and best yet.

By partnering with 1 Denison, the new home of Nine and North Sydney’s new tallest building, Grand Designs Australia Magazine and Eckersley’s Art & Craft, not only can we offer more opportunities for artists to step into the spotlight with more category awards, we can also offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the winning artists. The prizes include a winners exhibition at 1 Denison early next year, a 4 page editorial in 2021’s first edition of Grand Designs Australia Magazine and $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift vouchers to spend on art supplies.

Bluethumb Art Prize Sponsors


But that’s not all. Keep reading to find out all the exciting details. Spoiler: national treasure Ken Done is one of our judges!

Bluethumb Art Prize

Magic moments: Kim Hyunji surprised as she’s announced 2018’s overall winner.

The Problem with Art Prizes in 2020

We love art prizes and know how important they are for artists’ careers, but we also know they can be done differently, especially in these challenging times.

  • COVID Cancellations
    The 2020 calendar is emptier than any other year.
  • Inaccessible
    Art prizes are often difficult and expensive to enter, not to mention elitist and lacking diversity.
  • Controversial/Untrusted
    The judging is often seen to be fixed or by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Our Solution

Bring back our art prize tackling the above issues and building on two hugely successful prizes in 2017 and 2018.

  • Tackling COVID
    Using the groundbreaking art prize platform we’ve already built, the prize will be hosted completely online this year, when it’s needed most. We’re then hosting a winners exhibition at 1 Denison next year, when hopefully restrictions will have eased.
  • Accessibility
    Our prize is ridiculously easy and free to enter, and importantly open to all Australian-based artists (you don’t have to be a permanent resident or citizen to enter, as 2018’s winner Kim Hyunji knows well after being locked out from most other major Australian prizes).
  • Judged by Artists
    Who better to judge? Not only do we have some of Australia’s best and most respected artists on our judging panel, we’re also introducing the Artists’ Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft, judged by the 11,000+ artists using Bluethumb.

Magic moments: Ilawanti Ungkutjuru Ken receives the Bluethumb Art Prize Other Media Award in 2018. Since then Ilawanti has established herself in the Australian art consciousness, this year winning the Works on Paper Award in the Telstra NATSIAAs.

New for 2020

Using the experience and learnings from our previous two prizes, plus our deep understanding of the current digital climate and leveraging our huge growth, we’re making this year our biggest and best yet.

In 2018 we brought in more categories to help more artists. This year we’re doing the same and changing the category prizes to our most popular collections. Plus we’re introducing the new Artists’ Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft, voted for by the nation’s artists.

Bluethumb Art Prize exhibition sponsor 1 Denison

1 Denison: the new home of Nine and North Sydney’s new tallest building… not to mention the new home of the Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 winners exhibition!

Due to the ongoing uncertainty of holding events, we’re hosting the awards ceremony virtually on Instagram Live on November 26, building on our highly successful lockdown events. We’re then having a winners exhibition in early 2021 at 1 Denison.

Our judging panel includes some of Australia’s most-renowned artists from diverse backgrounds and practices to ensure our panel is inclusive and qualified. This will ensure awesome and inclusive results.

This Year’s Prizes

Thanks to our sponsors 1 Denison, Grand Designs Australia Magazine and Eckersley’s Art & Craft, we’re able to offer more prizes than ever this year and a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our artists.

Overall Winners

The 2 category award winners with the highest scores will win the top cash prizes.

  • $10,000 Bluethumb Art Prize sponsored by 1 Denison
  • $2,000 Bluethumb Art Prize Runner-Up Award sponsored by Grand Designs Australia Magazine
Gina and Kim

Magic moments: 2018’s awards night host and media personality Gina Liano with winning artist Kim Hyunji.

Category Awards

Each category award winner will be invited to exhibit at the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition at 1 Denison next year. They’ll also receive a $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift voucher to stock up on art supplies, plus a Bluethumb marketing package worth $1,000 to further boost their online presence and sales. As if that wasn’t already enough, the winners will be featured in a 4 page editorial about them and the prize in Grand Designs Australia Magazine in January 2021. With all these once-in-a-lifetime prizes along with the notoriety of winning, our category award winners are sure to have an incredible 2021!

  • Abstract Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
  • Landscape Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
  • Portrait Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
  • Still Life Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
  • Photography Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
Bluethumb Art Prize Grand Desings Australia

The prize money can’t buy! The winners will feature in a 4 page editorial in the first edition of Grand Designs Australia Magazine 2021.

People’s & Artists’ Choice

These awards are voted for by the public and Bluethumb artists respectively. The voting will stay open past the awards night on 26th November to get as many votes as possible and the winners announced just before Christmas. The winners will get the best Christmas present ever: a $500 Eckersley’s Art & Craft gift voucher and a Bluethumb marketing package worth $1,000. They’ll also be invited to exhibit at the Bluethumb Art Prize Winners exhibition at 1 Denison next year.

  • People’s Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
  • Artists’ Choice Award sponsored by Eckersley’s Art & Craft
Bluethumb Art Prize Eckersley's

Every artist’s favourite place to shop! This particular Eckersley’s Art & Craft store on King William St isn’t far from our new Adelaide Gallery. Our winners will all have $500 to spend on art supplies.

Our 2020 Judging Panel

Remember how we said our prize would be judged by Australia’s most-renowned artists? We weren’t lying! This panel will not only pick great winners, but will get our prize and our artists national attention.

  • Ken Done: an artist who needs no introduction; a national treasure who is as iconic as his art.
  • Blak Douglas: the first Indigenous artist to win the Kilgour Prize in 2019.
  • Kim Leutwyler: an Archibald Prize favourite and one of the top 50 most influential LGBTIQ+ allied Australians (Cosmopolitan).
  • Gavin Wanganeen: Australian Football League (AFL) legend, acclaimed contemporary Indigenous artist and Aboriginal activist.
  • Bindi Cole Chocka: award-winning photographer, including the Victorian Indigenous Art Award, and one of Melbourne’s top 100 most influential people (The Age).
  • Kim Hyunji: the Bluethumb Art Prize 18 winner and international rising star.
  • April Ossington: the editor of Grand Designs Australia Magazine and art aficionado.
Bluethumb Art Prize

Bluethumb Art Prize 2020 judge Ken Done.

The finalists will be shortlisted by the Bluethumb selection panel before being handed over to our judges. The panel includes our art advisor Amélia Davis, interior designer Alexandra Stavrou, content extraordinaire Megan George and our Bluethumb Art Prize Director Freddy Grant (that’s me – haha).

The Art Prize for Our Crazy Times

“I would always encourage people to paint and draw to express what they feel,” says judge Ken Done. “Especially in these difficult times, painting and drawing seem to be an even more important way of using lockdown time to process what’s happening in the world. The Bluethumb Art Prize is a great encouragement, and such a wonderful reminder that good things can still come out of this year.”

We couldn’t agree more Ken. Let’s get this Done! Entries open 1st October and close 31st October so artists, it’s time to get in the studio.

Catch up with our previous finalists and semi-finalists in our latest curation – Where Are They Now?

Archibald Prize 2020 Finalists Announced, Including Four-Time Finalist Kim Leutwyler


  1. Lynette Melsom says:

    I am an artist and would like to exhibit in this art prize. Thankyou

  2. Yes keen to enter, how do I go about entering. I believe only one entry per artist is that correct, so only one category allowed?

  3. Dawn Lim says:

    Sounds fantastic Bluethumb, thank you for thinking of us Artists all the way!!!

  4. Aiman says:

    Hi. I would love to take part in the competition. How can i get more details un regards to how to go about this? What are the categories? My strength is in landscape paintings and waterfall paintings. How to submit entries? Would appreciate a reply please. Thanks

    • Megan George says:

      Hi Aiman,

      Thanks for your questions! There are several category prizes for our most popular collections (outlined in the blog above), as well as People’s Choice and Artists’ Choice. Entries open October 1st and all you need to do is upload your entry to Bluethumb and check the box that says “this is for the Art Prize 20” in the Upload Art form (it won’t appear there until entries are officially open). 💙

  5. Kit McNeill says:

    Is there a limit to enteries.

  6. Mia McLean says:

    Excellent idea Bluethumb, this is a really exciting was to enthuse Australia artists and art lovers!

  7. Sandra Messner. says:

    Sounds fantastic. Thank you bluethumb. Looking forward to putting an art work in. Happy Spring day. Sandra Messner.

  8. Eve Sellars says:

    Yay!! We need this, thank you Bluethumb!

  9. Fay says:

    I am interested too…but it seems to be only for Australian artists.Am I right?

  10. Angelica Longo says:

    Thanks Bluethumb for organising this Art competition.

    Very exciting.

    Angelica Longo

  11. Lance Ross says:

    Wonderful to have real artists instead of curators doing the judging.

  12. Margaret Whitehurst says:

    I would really like to exhibit some of my work. How do I do that please?
    Margaret Whitehurst

  13. Amazing! You guys are the best. Will have to think of something extra special for this…

  14. I am SO excited about taking part!!!! Just entering one of my pieces and standing next to some of the most talented artists blows my mind! 🤯Thankyou.😎

  15. Tara says:

    Hello from Virginia! I’m not an artist, but rather an art lover. I’m always excited to receive an email from Bluethumb informing me that my favorite artist has added new pieces to his collection. I’ll be following this competition closely hoping to see his work!

  16. hi looking forward to entering on the 1st october thanks blue thumb mary shackman

  17. Leah srejber says:

    I would love to participate in this and submit a work.

  18. Rhonda Lisson says:

    Thank you for giving all our talented Artists a chance to join your Gallery and be part of this wonderful event. I have been thinking about joining your stable of Artists but have been a little frightened that my work may not be up to standard.
    I will think about getting the courage up and forward you an image maybe soon for your criticism. Good luck with the Exhibition
    Regards Rhonda

  19. Louise says:

    Are you able to enter a piece that’s been sold, noting we still have access to the images uploaded on Bluethumb?

  20. Thankyou SO much for organising your competition. Im excited just to enter.

  21. Jacki Starr says:

    Hi there,
    Is it free to enter the blue thumb 2020 art comp?
    I can’t find terms and conditions?

  22. Can you please tell me if the entry has to be up for sale thankyou

  23. Eleanor Percival says:

    Hi just wondering the deadline time for tomorrow, I’m a little late entering.

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