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12th December 2020

The Lurner Prize: the art prize for everyone

The Lurner Prize is a prize for self-taught artists to find success outside of the traditional cultural institutions
The Lurner Prize: the art prize for everyone
Photo: @ thelurnerprize

It can be hard to make it in the art world if you didn’t go to art school. However, the Lurner Prize is here to change all that.

What is the Lurner Prize?

The Lurner Prize is an art competition founded by Arizona Smith (@arizonathecat) and Samuel Mead (@beg4cred), who’re independent, self-taught artists based in Peckham, South-East London. This is the second year of the competition, after a successful first exhibition/event of 52 artists and five main winners. 

Sam and Arizona created the Lurner Prize with the intention of providing a platform for self-taught artists. The pair have managed to create careers for themselves despite not having done art since their GCSEs.

This inspired them to start the Prize in order to create community and confidence amongst other people who may not have a platform or outlet for their creativity, as well as developing new models outside of established cultural institutions for artists to succeed in.

Arizona told us more about the ethos of the prize:


“We live in a moment of extraordinary change, with change comes the necessity for reinvention. As such, it is time for artists and truly creative people to come to the fore as empowered, uncompromised individuals, ready to lead the culture into a new era. 


We believe that the role of the artist in society is to translate ideas from the imaginal realm into form. This makes the artist an important change maker in communities. Art has the power to touch people’s emotions and in this way to change lives. To create emotional shifts, art needs to be truly authentic, daring and untethered – in the words of Keith Haring,


“Art is nothing if you don’t reach every segment of the people.”


We hope this prize will give confidence and validation to artists across practices, at different stages of practice and from different walks of life.”


The panel of judges for this year’s prize is:

Peter Mead @lowpressuresystem / @destroy.godz

Selby Hi @selby_hi

Llao @huachollao

Helen @helenkirkumstudio

Sam Mead @beg4cred 

Arizona Smith @arizonathecat 


arizonathecat @thelurnerprize

How to enter

This is an art prize for SELF-TAUGHT artists who have never formally studied art (they ask that entrants have not done art beyond A-level).

There is no age limit. Entrants can be from anywhere in the world.

The competition is INDEPENDENT – entirely organised and funded by personal donations, @beg4cred & @arizonathecat.

Entry to the competition is FREE.

The competition is open from October 5th until December 5th. 

First prize for the competition is £500, with £100 in art supplies vouchers going to the second- and third-placed entrants.

There will be an exhibition to display work by the three winning artists as well as the postcard entries submitted by all entrants to the competition.

Criteria for Entry:

Entrants must submit ALL THREE of the following components:

  1. Three high quality photographs of visual artworks they have created themselves. These artworks may include, drawing, painting, etching, street art/graffiti, sculpture including street/temporary sculpture, photography or collage.
  2. A maximum 2 minute long video, voice recording or maximum 500 word text in which the entrant responds to the prompt ‘my experience as a self taught artist.’

These should be sent to [email protected]  

  1. ONE postcard sized or smaller sized artwork – this can be an original or a print – anything from a drawing on a bit of scrap paper to a miniature canvas to a print of a piece of your artwork. As long as it fits into a small envelope, it’s allowed. Please remember to put your name on everything you send us. This should be sent to: The Lurner Prize, 32a Breakspears Road, London SE4 1UW.

All of the artworks from section 3 will be exhibited in the final exhibition, to which all entrants will be invited. After the exhibition, entrants may take back their submitted piece of work. It’s up to entrants to collect their work at the end or soon after the exhibition.

If you have any further questions, you can contact them via @thelurnerprize on Instagram or email at [email protected]

arizonathecat and beg4cred @thelurnerprize

So what are you waiting for? Get your art tools at the ready and get entering!

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