Sketch for Survival

A global art initiative in aid of conservation.

Be a part of Sketch for Survival by entering our art competition which is open to everyone. Just 100 artworks are selected from all submissions to be exhibited in London & Edinburgh, as well as competing for our Artist awards.


Sketch for Survival helps to raise vital awareness about species extinction and biodiversity loss while also raising funds for projects around the world.

The competition showcases a range of different art styles and unites the voices of people all around the world in support of conservation. We regularly receive entries from more than 90 countries including China, Ukraine, South Korea, Iran, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Australia & NZ, Canada, the US, Brazil, Iceland, Dubai, Qatar, Turkey, Tanzania, South Africa and most countries in Europe.

Just 100 artworks are selected for exhibition and auction. These are sold via online auction with a starting bid of £100.

The submission phase runs from 1 February to 30 June annually. The selection phase is July-August. Exhibitions run September-November.


Competition Summary

Anyone – professional or amateur – aged 17 and over can enter (children aged 16 and under can enter our Sketch For Survival Junior Competition);

It is free to enter;

Submissions open 1 February – 30 June annually;

Just 100 artworks are selected for exhibition and auction by our expert selection panel,  led by Internationally renowned artist Gary Hodges;

All 100 artworks have a starting bid of £100;

ALL proceeds from the auction of Sketch for Survival artworks in November support our Project Fund.

There are 3 stages to the competition:

Stage 1Enter online between 1 February and 30 June

Please ensure your artwork meets the criteria (see full guidelines) or it will be discounted at the first stage of selection.

Stage 2Longlist Announced Midday Thursday 11 July 

Our panel will review all entries using the submission form and image provided. If you are longlisted by the selection panel – congratulations –  you will be asked to ship the original artwork to Explorer HQ in Norfolk, UK. Full details will be provided at the time. Longlisted artists are guaranteed a spot in the 100 Exhibition Collection (exhibited & auctioned) OR the Highly Commended collection (displayed and sold in pop-up shops and online store).

Stage 3Collections Announced Midday Thursday 5 September

During August the panel meet for in-person selection at Explorer HQ – all longlisted artworks and submission forms are reviewed in detail.  Final collections announced on our website and social media.

  • The Exhibition collection comprises 100 finalists, as chosen by the panel – these will be exhibited at London’s gallery@oxo on the South Bank & Edinburgh’s Dundas Street Gallery before being sold in our online fundraising auction.
  • The Highly Commended collection includes all other longlisted artworks  – the runners-up will have their artwork offered for sale in aid of our projects in both our pop up shops and our online gallery helping to support our Projects.


The 100 finalists in our Exhibition Collection are eligible for our annual awards which include the Leisure Painter’s People’s Choice Award, an award voted for by the public; The Artist Award, chosen by the editorial team of The Artist magazine and the Sketch For Survival 100 Artist of the Year award, selected by our panel.

The shortlist for the Artist of the Year will be announced Midday Thursday 26 September.

People’s Choice voting will open Thursday 26 September – Thursday 17 October.

Results in all categories will be announced at our event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 14 November.

All participants are invited to download a digital Supporter Logo (from our Supporter Hub – link provided when you enter).

Please note: no artworks can be returned. Please do not send us your artwork unless we have requested it. Thank you.


Full Submission Guidelines

Anyone aged 17 years and older can enter. If you are 16 or younger please see Sketch for Survival Junior here.

You can live anywhere in the world.

The competition is open to professional, amateur, hobby and student artists.

It is free to enter.

Please read these submission guidelines carefully.

Submissions open 1 February and close 30 June.

1.Click the ENTER link on this page which will open a submission form.  Follow the instructions on the submission form and complete all the fields.

2.Attach a good quality JPEG image of your completed artwork to the submission form. It can be up to 5MB in size. PDFS NOT PERMITTED

NB.The first stage of selection is done online by viewing your image so please make sure it is in focus and labelled correctly with your name! A photo taken on your mobile phone should be fine.


You must decide if Sketch for Survival is right for you.

From feedback received over the years,  artists tend to get involved because they want to support a cause through their art, and enjoy uniting with other artists from all around the world for a common good. They enjoy learning about the projects supported by the proceeds and regular updates help them to feel connected.

All participants are invited to download an Artist Supporter logo – the link to this is provided when you enter the competition (look out for it – it is on the confirmation message which appears on-screen) .

There are additional benefits for the 100 finalists:

Profile – your artwork will be seen by a wide audience, and exhibited at several venues including London’s prestigious gallery@oxo,  sharing space with internationally-renowned artists.

Recognition –  a chance to win awards. The winner of the Sketch for Survival 100 Artist of the Year will be invited to contribute a piece to the 2025 collection, to be sold on a 50/50 basis. The winner of The Artist Award has a feature about them in the Artist magazine.

Networking -discover / connect with other artists. Grow your network and develop your skills.

Feedback – artists participating in Sketch for Survival previously tell us that, above all,  it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and that being selected for exhibition boosts their confidence. The Sketch for Survival community is a diverse and very supportive one. Throughout the exhibition period we send updates to our finalists and through our social media, club and newsletters so you can follow project developments and see exactly how the funds raised from the campaign are being used.



100 Finalists – these artworks win the ultimate prize of being exhibited in Edinburgh & London. They are framed for exhibition, displayed and sold (unframed) via our online auction. Finalists are eligible for our annual awards and a digital Finalists logo to display as they wish. This year is particularly exciting because the finalists will enjoy 3 weeks at gallery@oxo on London’s South Bank alongside the work of renowned artists contributing to the  Extinction Collection,  including Turner Prize winner Richard Deacon.

Highly Commended  – these are the artworks only narrowly missing out on a place in the 100.  These artworks will join us on tour/at events and be displayed (unframed) in our pop-up store, including gallery@oxo (if they have not been sold at a previous pop up). The artworks will be available to purchase in aid of our projects. Artists receive a digital Highly Commended logo to display as they wish.

Your artwork should fulfil our criteria by featuring a threatened species or at-risk wild space.

The submission form will ask you to provide the specific name of the species and its conservation status. You must complete this for your submision to be eligible. Please read the guidelines below.

We use the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species, as a guide to which species are considered ‘threatened’.

  • Animal/Fungi/Plant

To qualify,  the main focus of your artwork should be:

a species, flora or fauna,  on the IUCN Red List,  in one of the following categories:

Vulnerable (VU)

Endangered (EN)

Critically Endangered (CR)

or Extinct in the Wild (EW)

These global categorisations mean the species faces a high risk of extinction. To check conservation status please visit www.IUCNredlist.org and use the species search.

  • Wild Space

We also accept artworks featuring an at risk landscape/seascape (from anywhere in the world) or a threatened species within a landscape.

For example, an ancient woodland, rainforest, a coral reef, mountain range, coastline, wetland – any wild space threatened by environmental factors such as a global warming/erosion or by human activity such as logging/pollution is acceptable. Please tell us why you have chosen the wild space and the threat it faces (in the Conservation Status section of the submission form).

  • Notes

If your chosen species has previously been listed in one of the IUCN categories above,  and since downgraded, such as the Humpback Whale, then that is acceptable,  but you must please provide context on your submission form. If you are longlisted you may be asked to provide further details regarding your choice of subject.

If the risk to your chosen species is at a local or regional level (as opposed to global) then that is also acceptable, but please provide  information, e.g, species is included on a national Red List such as the RSPB Red List of Birds, or Red List for Britain’s Mammals.

If your chosen species has not been assessed for many years by IUCN but there is clear evidence of decline by another official conservation group/body then this is acceptable but please provide information.

Artworks are selected on merit, but you should be aware that the selection panel considers a wide range of factors when making their final decisions including artistic skill, form & composition, originality & imagination,  and overall commercial appeal (can we sell your artwork?).

The selection panel will not consider graphic/violent content.


We accept artworks in the following two size categories (landscape or portrait orientation accepted):

A4: Minimum size and visible area – 21 cm by 29.7 cm. Maximum paper size 23cm by 31.7cm.

Your paper size can be anywhere in the range from 21cm – 23cm (short side) by 29.7 cm – 31.7cm (long side).

Please note- this additional area will not be visible once mounted/framed in our reusable exhibition frames so please make sure anything important including your signature is within the visible area.




A3:Minimum size and visible area – 29.7cm by 42cm. Maximum paper size 31.7cm by 44cm.

Your paper size can be anywhere in the range from  29.7cm – 31.7cm (short side) by 42cm – 44 cm (long side). Please note this additional area will not be visible once mounted/framed in our reusable exhibition frames so please make sure anything important including your signature is within the visible area.

Artworks cannot be any smaller or any larger than the dimensions given above. They will not fit in our exhibition frames and will be dicounted from selection.

**If you are cutting down your artwork,  please do not cut it right down to the minimum size – aim for somewhere in the middle of the range. **

Other: For unusual mediums/materials/two dimensional shapes such as circles,  artwork will be accepted so long as the artwork falls into the size range A4 to A3 (21cm – 44cm) and is ready to hang (e.g. box canvas). Ready to hang means it must have hanging fixtures (hooks and wires/string) and is ready for the wall. If we receive your piece and find that it is not ready to hang then regretfully, we will be unable to select it for the exhibition and it will be sold in our shop/online store.


  • Notes

All submissions to Sketch for Survival must be original and unframed.

If you are using a specific source e.g, an image, please be aware of copyright issues and reference the source. We recommend you seek permission to use the source material.

All mediums, techniques and styles are welcome. As well as paper and canvas, we accept artwork on any flat base – we have had metal, stone, wooden panels and elephant dung paper in the past. Sorry, no sculptures.

Some artists submit sketches, while others submit more complex (studio style) artworks. All are accepted and will be judged side by side on their artistic merits including originality, accuracy, composition, skill and impact.

Digital art is accepted but due to advances in AI,  if you are longlisted you will be asked to provide evidence of your working practice e.g, a video, or a series of images showing your work at various stages and how you work – this can be provided as a link to social media/your website or sent by email/WeTransfer.

AI artwork is not accepted.

  1. We use reusable exhibition frames to display the 100 finalist’s artworks – this cuts down on plastic and packaging and helps our exhibition display look consistent.
  2. Having two set sizes gives us a level playing field and allows us to more fairly evaluate the merits of one artwork against another during the selection phase – this would be more difficult to do if we were comparing a huge artwork with a tiny one. Having a range of sizes would also increase the challenges we already face when hanging the exhibition at different venues.
  3. Our initiative is all about raising awareness about species extinction and habitat loss while raising funds for projects – we champion affordable art – feedback from regular supporters and buyers tells us that A4 and A3 artworks are very desirable as they fit into homes more easily than huge artworks and are more likely to be purchased spontaneously to support a cause.
  4. Large artworks take considerable time and money for the artist to produce and transport and in turn create a larger carbon footprint for the exhibition tour and auction – since these artworks are donations to a charitable cause we felt the A4 to A3 size range was most appropriate.

One work per artist.

We are accepting submissions until midnight GMT 30th June.

To enter, please complete our online submission form.

Please do not send your artwork to us – the first stage of selection is done online.

Longlisted artists will be announced Thursday 11 July. Successful artists will be contacted by email and given full instructions on where to send their artworks for the next stage of the selection process.

We welcome the support of schools and colleges.

Individual pupils/students aged 16 and under should enter our Sketch For Survival Junior Competition.

For details about how to enter work from multiple pupils/students, please visit our Schools Page.

As well as being entered into the main competitions, schools/colleges will also receive an eAlbum of their entries and a school/college winner, selected by us.

After the submission deadline, all entries are reviewed for eligibility (size/subject) using the submission form.

The artwork images are then assessed by a panel of leading artists led by Gary Hodges, the UK’s best selling and most collectable wildlife pencil artist. He has been a judge for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Awards since 2008 and has won numerous awards in his own right. Guest judges include Alison Nicholls and Sevina Yates.

The panel is joined by Sara White and Robert Ferguson, founding trustees of Explorers Against Extinction.

The panel assess many different elements including artistic skill, originality and creativity, accuracy, overall composition, impact and commercial appeal.

Your submission form is also considered.

You may find the Sketch for Survival archive at the bottom of the page a useful tool before deciding what to submit. The archive will give you some indication of the standard.

The 100 Sketch For Survival Finalists will have their artworks auctioned in our online auction concluding on Sunday 17th November. Starting bids are £100.

The Highly Commended Collection will be available for sale at pop-up stores and events including gallery@oxo,  and in our online gallery. Prices for Highly Commended unframed artworks range from around £75 to £350 depending on the size and artwork/artist.

All 100 Sketch for Survival competition artworks have a starting bid of £100, giving a Project Fund starting pot of £10,000 and a level playing field for bidding activity to start. Artworks are sold unframed/unmounted to keep shipping costs manageable.

Sketch for Survival began in 2017 as an affordable arts initiative. We started off auctioning 26 minute sketches from artists and celebrity supporters to highlight elephant poaching in Africa. At the time, one elephant was being poached every 26 minutes on average. Starting bids were kept intentionally low to encourage people to bid for an original artwork to support a cause.

Over the years the artworks have become more sophisticated and starting bids have increased to reflect this. It is important to remember that the starting bid is not intended to be a true reflection of value.

Most bidding activity takes place in the final week, and even the final day. We do all we can to promote the exhibition and auction and showcase the art to insure there is plenty of bidding activity and a good audience for our contributing artists  – you can help too,  by sharing the exhibition with your network, particularly in the final week.

There is, of course, some jeopardy involved with an auction format – you never know what’s going to happen!

We provide access to our archive, so you can review previous collections and auctions. It is a good idea to think carefully about the commercial appeal of your artwork, as well as its all-important conservation message before you begin.


There are three awards:

Sketch for Survival 100 Artist of the Year 

The panel will agree a shortlist from all 100 finalists. Shortlisted artists will be invited as our guests to our autumn event at the Royal Geographical Society in London,  where the winner will be revealed. The winner receives an engraved trophy and an invitation to join our On the Brink collection in the following year (artwork sold on a 50/50 basis).

The Leisure Painter’s Sketch for Survival People’s Choice Award

This award is chosen by the public, through an online vote which opens Thursday 26 September and closes Thursday 17 October featuring all 100 finalists.  It goes to the artwork with the most votes. The winner receives an engraved trophy and a digital magazine subscription.

The Artist Award 

The winner is chosen by the editorial team of The Artist Magazine from all 100 finalists and is awarded to the artist who in their opinion best captures the spirit of the Sketch for Survival initiative in a two dimensional drawing or painting of any medium. The winning artist will be featured in The Artist in December 2024, and receive a complimentary one year digital subscription to the magazine and an engraved trophy.


We do not cover the cost of postage.

No artworks are returned.

Longlisted pieces sent to Explorer HQ in Norfolk will be included in either the Exhibition Collection (100 places)  or The Highly Commended Collection – all pieces will be sold by us with the funds raised supporting our projects.

Submissions open: 1 February – 30 June

Longlist announced: Thursday 11 July

Finalists announced: Thursday 5 September

Shortlist announced: Thursday 26 September

Peoples’ Choice vote opens: Thursday 26 September – Thursday 17 October

Edinburgh exhibition: Thursday 17 October – Saturday 19 October

London exhibition: Wednesday 30 October – Sunday 17 November

RGS London event: Thursday 14 November

Fundraising auction concludes: Sunday 17 November

You are welcome to share your work on social media and other channels during the submission phase, before selection takes place and during the selection and exhibition phases.  Sharing is beneficial to the competition so we encourage you to do this. We kindly request that you do take the following points into account however:

  • Please be clear on what stage of the competition you are at – Just entered or about to enter (open submission phase – submissions close 30 June); Longlisted (announced 11 July);  Finalist in the exhibition (100 finalists announced 5 September). We provide Sketch for Survival logos at all three stages – please do use these.
  • If you have used source material, please make sure you have permission and give due credit.
  • Please use the hashtag #sketchforsurvival and you may like to tag @explorersagainstextinction (Facebook/Instagram) @RealAfrica (X). Links to the competition are provided in our bio and on the home page of our website.

Thank you and good luck.


Sketch For Survival 2024: Terms and Conditions:

  1. The competition is open to artists worldwide, except for employees of the Real World Conservation Trust (RWCT), their immediate families, agents, or anyone else associated with administration of this competition.
  2. Closing date for receipt of entries is midnight GMT on 30 June.
  3. To enter, complete the online submission form by the closing date. Do not post/mail your artwork to us.
  4. Artists selected by the judges will be contacted by 11 July with details of how to send/mail their artworks to us for the second round of judging. Failure to forward the original artwork to us will result in elimination from the competition.
  5. The 100 Finalists and Highly Commended Collection will be announced on Thursday 5 September.
  6. The shortlists for the Awards will be announced on Thursday 26 September. All shortlisted artists will receive a ticket to our Awards night in London in November.
  7. The winning artists will be announced at our Awards night in November.
  8. The RWCT has the right to publish all entries on its website explorersagainstextinction.co.uk and selected ones on its Social Media channels or for press/promotion of the campaign and RWCT.
  9. RWCT has the right to publish an image of selected artworks in merchandise such as calendar or cards to sell and raise funds for the charity in association with the Sketch for Survival campaign. Artworks will not be reproduced elsewhere without the consent of the artist who retains all rights.
  10. The RWCT will offer for sale or auction the artwork of the 100 Finalists and the Highly Commended Collection, through its gallery, online gallery and online auction. All receipts for the art will go to the Explorers Against Extinction Project Fund, supporting frontline conservation worldwide.
  11. Entries limited to one per artist.
  12. Email addresses will only be used by RWCT for updates on the competition in their newsletter which can be opted out of. They will not be disclosed to any other parties.
  13. The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
  14. The winner agrees to participate in any reasonable publicity required by the RWCT.

Promoter:    The Real World Conservation Trust. UK Charity 1177505. Registered Address: Happisburgh, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 0QQ

Sketch for Survival Artist Award

Sponsored by

Sketch for Survival Peoples Choice Award

Sponsored by

Gorilla by Philippa Lavers; Red Panda by Maya Cawdell; Tiger cub by A.E London; Rainforest by Claire Allen; Chimpanzee by Jenny Campbell. All artworks on this page were SFS 2023 Finalists.