By Dawn Tan

The Footscray Art Prize has returned and is now open for entries. Primary and secondary students from Melbourne’s west are invited to enter into the Young Artists Prize category. There are two $500 prizes, and all entries are exhibited – a fantastic experience for any budding artist! To help those thinking about entering, we asked Dawn Tan – one of the Young Artists Prize judges – for some tips on entering art prizes.

Dawn is the owner of the Little Art Yurt and a local artist who is passionate about nurturing the creativity of children. She can’t wait to see all of the artworks on display in 2021!

Dogs make us all happy - 2019 primary student winner – Mayo F
Dogs make us all happy – 2019 primary student winner – Mayo F

1 Creating a new artwork: where do I start?

I love creating artworks by first having a think of what inspires me!

Perhaps it might be a colour, or a pattern. Maybe it’s the weather that makes you smile, a crisp autumn day with crunchy leaves or a rainy day? You might be inspired by a person like your very funny grandpa and his jokes, or maybe you have a happy holiday memory.

The list is endless and it truly goes on and on. Inspiration is everywhere. I like to make a list of my top 3 inspirations and I think of ways to mix these favourite ideas together.

If you enjoy drawing and painting, perhaps, you might like to do a painted piece! If you prefer to get all hands on and crafty, maybe a 3D mixed media sculpture or collage might be the way to go!

2 Choosing what to enter: an artwork you love

Always choose an artwork that you are proud of and would love others to see!

It may not necessarily be a happy piece filled with a joyful memory. Art can sometimes be a bit sad too. A viewer is able to feel emotions when looking at art pieces. Art is very powerful and sometimes the best masterpieces are actually created during sad times like during the war or when people pass.

However, artists still show the art pieces because they are proud of their hard work in capturing such a sorrowful time and very often, they create these pieces because creating it helped them feel better.

So, think about the piece you are entering. Is it a piece you are proud of – And if so, why? Why is the piece so important to you?

The ocean is crying - 2019 entry by Siena S.
The ocean is crying – 2019 entry by Siena S.

3 How to describe your artwork

Be clear and concise!

Tell the viewer in a few words what the piece is about and what inspired you to create the piece. If you like, you can also mention any special processes you have used in creating the piece.

Pointillism artwork by Little Art Yurt students

Pointillism artwork by Little Art Yurt students

4 Ways to present your artwork for exhibition

Regardless of whether you are submitting an artwork for an exhibition or simply to gift to someone, make sure you complete your piece!

Firstly, ensure every bit is properly painted, drawn or sculpted. Leave no bits half done! If you are working on a canvas, make sure even the canvas edges are properly painted or neatly taped up. No one wants to see a lovely painting but with messy edges!

If you’ve created a piece on paper, perhaps consider framing it or mounting it onto ply so it looks less flimsy.

If you have created a sculpture, perhaps think of presenting it on a wooden board, or in a fun box. You would be surprised how these little things help complete a piece and instantly make it more presentable!


Footscray Art Prize 2019 exhibition, photographed by Shuttermain
Footscray Art Prize 2019 exhibition, photographed by Shuttermain

5 Understanding what the judges look for


When judging artworks, one would usually look for a few important things.

Firstly, the skill and technique presented through the artwork. Judges love to be wowed by your amazing skill and talent! We enjoy how you’ve turned your inspiration into an art piece. How you’ve translated emotions and feelings through the use of various art elements and principles.

And of course, we look at the presentation itself. An artwork that is visually well presented is always a bonus!

To find out more and enter an artwork, visit www.footscrayartprize.com/youngartists or email info@footscrayartprize.com.

Need a bit of inspiration or guidance? Dawn offers art workshops in her little yurt. Her class students get to experiment with different techniques and materials while discovering contemporary artists in fun, modern and engaging ways. Visit www.dawn-tan.com for more or search up #littleartyurt on Instagram!

Entries into the Footscray Art Prize close at midday on Monday 8 February.

Remember, only one entry per child and all entries are exhibited in an exhibition at Victoria University’s community hub – VU at MetroWest in mid 2021.



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