Sketch for Survival is a global art initiative in aid of conservation.

You can 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 at a London gallery, as well as competing for our awards.

How does it work?

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

Just 100 finalists are selected from all competition entries received and ‘win’ a place on our prestigious Sketch for Survival exhibition tour alongside artworks donated by professional and celebrity artists.

The donated artworks are sold via online auction, with all proceeds going to our Project Fund. Sketch for Survival raised nearly £60,000 (US$ 80,000) for nominated conservation projects in 2020. Entries came from all over the world – China, South Korea, Russia, 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.

In 2021 our competition is back bigger and better than ever, with two weeks at [email protected] on London’s South Bank.


Anyone can enter;

There are two categories: Endangered Wildlife and At-risk Wild Spaces (please see guidelines below);

There are two age groups: Adult and Junior (16 years old and younger);

The closing date is 30 June 2021;

Our expert selection panel is led by Internationally renowned artist Gary Hodges;

100 Finalists, as chosen by the panel, will be exhibited at [email protected] and be included in our online fundraising auction. They also receive complimentary membership to our Explorer Club;

The 100 Finalists are eligible for our annual awards which include the 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 Wildlife 100 and Wild Spaces Artist of the Year awards, selected by our panel;

Those artists short-listed for our two awards, plus the winner of the People’s Choice award, will have the opportunity to produce a collection of work to be sold commercially by us.

There are two additional collections for selected runner-ups –  Highly Commended & Conservation Collection

All participants will receive a digital Certificate of Participation.


By submitting an artwork you will be helping to make a stand against extinction – you will help us to raise awareness about threats facing wildlife and wild spaces while also helping to raise funds for conservation through the sale of artwork.

Every artwork submitted will be displayed in our Sketch For Survival 2021 online gallery.

Every participant will receive a digital Certificate of Participation.

We will pay for a tree to be planted for every single submission we receive through our Carbon for Conservation scheme.

There are tangible benefits for the 100 Finalists:

Your artwork will be:

exhibited at London’s prestigious [email protected] alongside artwork by well-known, award-winning artists;

seen by a wide audience;

sold via online auction in aid of our 21 For 21 Projects.

The 100 Finalists also receive complimentary one year membership to our Explorer Club.

Benefits for artists short-listed for our two Artist of the Year Awards, + the winner of the Peoples Choice award:

As well as the benefits of being a Top 100 Artist listed above, these artists will be given the opportunity to produce a Small Collection of work that will be sold by Explorers Against Extinction on a commercial basis. This means that as well as having your work displayed online in our gallery, with some pieces being displayed at our events and exhibitions, you will be able to earn money for your work. This opportunity is not mandatory should your commitments not allow, but available to those who wish to accept it.

Every year the standard of artwork goes up and deliberations take longer!

The panel is tasked with selecting:

100 Finalists – these artworks win the ultimate prize of being exhibited at [email protected] and then sold via our online auction. Finalists are eligible for our annual awards and receive complimentary one year membership to our Explorer Club and a digital Finalists logo to display as they wish.

100 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 in our pop-up store, including [email protected] (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 complimentary one year ‘Artist Supporter’ membership to our Explorer Club and a digital Artist Supporter logo to display as they wish.

100 Conservation Collection – these artworks will be showcased through our virtual gallery space and offered for sale in aid of our projects via our online store. Artists receive a digital Artist Supporter logo to display as they wish.

If your artwork is not selected for one of the three collections listed above then we are happy to return it to you as long as you have provided a suitable stamped addressed envelope at the time of submission. We are sorry but we cannot return artwork without an SAE.


The competition is open to professional, amateur, hobby and student artists. You can live anywhere in the world.

To enter our Junior Competition you must be aged 16 or under, and a parent/guardian/teacher should write a note of consent – please include this with your artwork.

First of all, please read these submission guidelines carefully. If you have a question that is not answered on this page you can email us at [email protected]

To enter, simply follow the ENTER HERE link on this page and follow the instructions on the submission form.

You will be asked to attach a good quality image of your completed artwork to the submission form (please ensure the jpeg file size is no greater than 1 MB).

After completing the form, you should post your artwork with your name and the name of the artwork written clearly on the back of the piece, to:

Sketch For Survival, Lower Farm Barns, Happisburgh, Norwich, NR12 0QQ, UK.

We need the original artwork in order to include you in the competition. Electronic only submissions, or submissions not conforming to the guidelines will be discounted.

**Should your piece not be selected for one of our collections, and you would like your piece returned to you, please include a stamp addressed envelope. We are only able to return unsuccessful pieces if an SAE is provided at the time of submission. **

Once your original artwork has been safely received you will get an email receipt from us to the email address used on the submission form. We open and catalogue artworks every Friday so you will be contacted on the Friday following the artworks arrival. Please check you Spam/Junk folders if an email is not received, especially if using a hotmail account. Please add [email protected] to your safe contact list.


Schools are welcome to enter. Sketch for Survival Junior welcomes entries from anyone 16 years and under. Over 16s should enter the main adult competition.

If you are a teacher wishing to enter students in the competition you are welcome to send all your students’ entries together to us in one envelope and with one cover letter and one SAE.

Please make sure each artwork is clearly labelled with the students name, and the name of the artwork.

Please note: for each entry it will still be necessary to complete an online submission form.


Sketch for Survival raises much needed funds for frontline conservation but it also raises crucial awareness about a whole range of issues from the Illegal Wildlife Trade to habitat loss. This is why all the species and wild spaces included in our collections have a conservation story to tell.

There are two categories within the competition:

  • Wildlife

To qualify,  the main focus of your artwork should be a species categorised as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), Critically Endangered (CR) or Extinct in the Wild (EW) on the IUCN Red List – the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species (visit www.IUCNredlist.org and use their species search).

These global categorisations mean the species faces a high risk of extinction.

If previously listed in one of those categories and since downgraded, such as the Humpback Whale, please provide context.

If the risk to your chosen species is at a local or regional level (as opposed to global) then please give further 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.

Please note: we do make some exceptions to the rule above, for example, when a species has not been assessed for many years by IUCN and there is clear evidence of decline by another offical conservation group/body. We kindly request that you use your submission form to give context to your choice. 

  • Wild Spaces 

Your image should depict an at risk landscape/seascape (from anywhere in the world), or a species of plant (see below).

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 or by human activity. Please tell us why you have chosen the wild space and the threat it faces.

We also welcome artwork featuring a specific species of threatened plant/flower/tree/coral. To qualify,  they must be categorised as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), Critically Endangered (CR) or Extinct in the Wild (EW) on the IUCN Red List (visit www.IUCNredlist.org and use their species search).

These categories also apply in the Junior Competition.

Please use your submission form to give your artwork context (exactly what have you depicted and why). This is very important as we refer to the submission form during selection and the information you provide is used to caption your artwork should it be selected for exhibition.

According to the IUCN Red List, more than 37,400 species are threatened with extinction.


All submissions to Sketch for Survival must be unframed/unmounted and A4 or A3 in size. Artworks can be up to an additional 2cm in width/length but 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.

A4: Minimum size and visible area -21 cm by 29.7 cm. (Paper size permitted in the range 21cm- 23cm by 29.7cm – 31.7cm)

A3:Minimum size and visible area – 42 cm x 29.7 cm.  (Paper size permitted in the range 42cm- 44cm x 29.7cm -31.7cm)

Artworks must not be any smaller than the dimensions given.  **If you are cutting down your artwork,  please ensure you leave a 5-10 mm margin all the way around over and above the minimum sizes given above for A4 or A3 so that it can be mounted in our exhibition frames **

For unusual mediums/materials/two dimensional shapes such as circles, artwork will be accepted so long as pieces are in the size range A4 to A3 and are ready to hang (e.g. box canvas). Ready to hang means it must have hanging fixtures (hooks and wires) and is ready for the wall.

All artworks must be original (photocopies, prints or photos of work are not accepted). 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.

Digital art is accepted but must be printed to the A4/A3 sizes as outlined above and must be signed by the artist on the front. Unsigned/digitally signed pieces will be disqualified.

Some artists send 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.

Why do you have size restrictions?

  1. We use reusable exhibition frames to display the 100 finalist’s artwork – 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.
  4. Large artworks take considerable time and money for the artist to produce and transport – since these artworks are donations to a charitable cause we felt the A4 to A3 size range was most appropriate.

One work per category per artist.

We are accepting submissions until Wednesday 30th June. Should entries arrive after this deadline they will only be accepted if the postmark is Tuesday 29th June or earlier. During peak times (the last week of June!) it may take us a little while to process the artworks and send an email receipt to you – please do be patient.

Before sending your artwork to us please ensure you have completed and submitted our online Submission Form, and have included a digital image of your work. You can access this form by clicking here (opens in new tab).

Once this form has been successfully submitted,  your completed artwork should be posted, no later than 29 June 2021 to:

Sketch for Survival, Lower Farm Barns, Happisburgh, Norwich, NR12 0QQ, UK.

Please write your name and the name of your artwork clearly on the back of the piece so we can cross-reference it with your entry form.

If entering our Junior Competition please remember to include a note of consent from a parent/teacher/guardian.

Please remember to enclose a suitable stamped addressed envelope if you would like your piece returned to you should it NOT be selected for one of the collections.

After the submission deadline, all pieces will be judged by a panel of leading artists, including:

Gary Hodges is 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.

Alison Nicholls lives in the US and is well-known for her field sketching – using pencil, ink and watercolour to quickly capture Africa’s iconic wildlife on paper. She leads Art Safaris for Africa Geographic, is a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation and the Society of Animal Artists and is a member of The Explorers Club and the Salmagundi Club in New York City.

Sevina Yates is a landscape and wildlife artist who has won the Wild Places category in the David Shepherd Artist of the Year Awards four times in the last eight years. Working primarily in acrylic she strives to translate into paint the sublime moments experienced in the high Alps – the moment the light strikes, the clouds obscure and the snow falls.

Sara White and Robert Ferguson, founding trustees of Explorers Against Extinction will complete the panel.

The panel assess many different elements including artistic skill, originality and creativity, accuracy, overall composition and impact. 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 results will be announced on the Explorers Against Extinction website on Friday 3rd September.

Shortlists will be revealed later that month, with winners in each category announced at the RGS event on 18 November.

The 100 Sketch For Survival Finalists will have their artworks auctioned in our online auction concluding on Sunday 28 November .

The 100 Highly Commended Collection Artworks will be available for sale while on display at [email protected] in our pop-up store and afterwards in our online gallery.

The 100 Conservation Collection artworks will be available for sale online through both our Virtual Gallery and our Online Gallery.

If your artwork is not selected to feature in one of the three Collections above we are happy to return it to you but you must provide a stamped addressed envelope when you send in your artwork.

All proceeds from the sale of artwork supports our 21 For 21 Project Fund supporting twenty-one small projects around the world.

Sketch for Survival Wildlife 100 Artist of the Year 2021.

Artists will be shortlisted for the award with the panel deciding the winner. All shortlisted artists will be invited as our guests to our autumn event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 18 November where the winner will be announced.

Sketch for Survival Wild Spaces Artist of the Year 2021

Artists will be shortlisted for the award with the panel deciding the winner. All  shortlisted artists will be invited as our guests to our autumn event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 18th November where the winner will be announced.

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

This award is chosen by the public, through an online vote. It goes to the artwork in the collection with the most votes (any artwork from the Invitational or the Finalist collections). It is sponsored by Leisure Painter Magazine and the winning artist will have a profile piece published about them in the magazine and receive a complimentary one year subscription.

The Artist Award is chosen by the editorial team of The Artist Magazine 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 and receive a complimentary one year subscription to the magazine.

Sketch for Survival Junior Introducing Artist of the Year 2021.

Six artists will be shortlisted from our Junior Competition for the award with the panel deciding the winner. All shortlisted artists will be invited as our guests to our autumn event at the Royal Geographical Society in London on 18 November where the winner will be announced.


We do not cover the cost of postage.

Every year we receive 100’s of entries from outside the UK. It’s one of the strengths of our collection that it contains artworks of so many artists from right around the World.

The address to post them to is the same as for UK entries:

Sketch For Survival, Lower Farm Barns, Happisburgh, Norwich, NR12 0QQ, UK.

If you are required to complete Customs Declaration/Export forms, please ensure that you mark it as a “Other”.

Description should be “Art Sketch entered to Charity Competition.”

Value should be nominal as there is no purchase price being paid by us.

Items will have a VAT/Sales tax charge to us if over £40/$50 and a Customs charge if over £120/$150.

We will pay nominal charges but as a charity cannot afford to pay Customs demands greater than £15/US$20. In these instances the items will be returned to sender by the Postal Service.

You’ve completed the online submission form; you’ve packaged up and posted your signed original artwork to us in time for the deadline, and you’ve remembered to include your name clearly somewhere with the artwork. What happens next? Every Friday the team at Explorer HQ open all the artwork that has been received by post and courier in the previous week. We match the artwork sent with the corresponding online submission form. We check that your piece meets the criteria set and we catalogue your artwork in our A3 or A4 portfolio folders ready for the selection process. We then email the artist(s) to confirm safe receipt of artwork – we use the email address provided on the online submission form and we add the name, email address and date sent to our master spreadsheet.  If you have sent artwork to us, please ensure you monitor your email address and make sure your mailbox is not full. Please also check in your Spam folder. We recommend adding [email protected] to your safe contacts list.  If you have taken the above steps and still have not heard from us within the timeline specified, please do feel free to query – just drop us an email with your details (name/date artwork sent/size & subject of artwork).

All the pieces selected for our three different collections are sold with the funds raised supporting our projects.

If your artwork is not selected we are  happy to return it to you providing you have included a suitable stamped addressed envelope at the time of submission. Please note: if you send an SAE and your artwork is subsequently selected, we will reuse the envelope and stamps so they will not be wasted – everything is recycled where possible, including packaging.

Each year we nominate different projects to support – usually 3 or 4 different projects. Our most ambitious project to date was establishing a new working dogs programme in Garamba in DRC for African Parks, for $50,000 USD. Our smallest project to date was assisting the Mariamma Trust in Bandipur, India to mitigate human/wildlife conflict for $2,500 USD.  All selected projects are immediate-need, and usually frontline projects.

You can see the projects supported, and the funds donated in previous years here.

This year, in response to the global pandemic, we are working differently. We are supporting twenty-one small projects all around the world, representing a whole range of species, habitats and communities across all seven continents. With the collapse of eco-tourism many of these have been severely impacted. All proceeds from Sketch for Survival will go to the 21 For 21 Project Fund. Our target is £44,100 ensuring all the projects receive £2,100 each. We very much hope to exceed this and be in a position to extend our support for their work.

In addition to fund-raising through our creative initiatives we are also raising funds for 21 For 21 through active challenges.

Sketch for Survival Junior Sponsored by

Sketch for Survival Sponsored by


Please note: the 2021 competition is now closed. Results will be announced on Friday 3 September. If you would like to enter Sketch for Survival 2022 please check back in the New Year when the submission guidelines will have been updated. Thank you for your support.