Rules and Requirements

  • To enter, a teen must be between the ages of 13 and 17 on the day of entry.
  • The competition is free to enter.
  • Teens must be residents of the United States.
  • Submissions are accepted only via digital submission.
  • Submissions must be the teen's original work alone. Any work that is suspected of plagiarism will automatically be disqualified.
    Plagiarism is defined as the act of stealing and passing another's ideas off as one's own. This includes unaltered photographs taken by other artists and studies created off of another artist's work.
  • All decisions of the judges are final, and no challenges will be permitted.
  • A submitted image must follow the definition of a portrait. It may be a traditional, representational work or it may be a more experimental portrait. Self-portraits will be accepted.
  • Must be based on the teen's direct contact with any living individual(s).

Entry Instructions

  • All mediums are allowed, but they must be submitted as a digital submission.
  • Enter your artwork at and follow the instructions on the website.
  • Enter your name, age, location, medium, and a sentence long artist's description about your portrait.

Limit: one entry per person.

Who May Enter

The competition is open to all teens between the ages of 13 and 17 on the day of entry, who are legal residents of the United States or its territories with an address in the United States at the time of the competition. Employees, volunteers or interns, Regents, and members of advisory boards of the Smithsonian Institution and Pearson Foundation and their respective immediate families (children, siblings, and spouses), competition sponsors, employees or immediate families of the judges, and their respective agents are not eligible. Winners and their parent or guardian may be required to execute a publicity release and affidavit of eligibility or provide proof of eligibility as a condition of accepting the award.


The Smithsonian will award 12 prizes total: 1 grand prize and 5 honorable mentions to entrants in each of the two age groups (13-15 years old and 16-17 years old.).

Grand Prize: The Smithsonian will display the two winning portraits in the National Portrait Gallery during the spring of 2014. The two grand prize winners will also be awarded a $300 Visa gift card.

Honorable Mention Prize: The Smithsonian will showcase the honorable mention winning portraits in the online exhibition. Honorable mentions will receive a $50 Visa gift card.

The Smithsonian reserves the right to substitute prizes of similar value; however, teens may not request prize substitution. All taxes are the responsibility of winners.


Winners for each of the two age groups (13-15 and 16-17) will be selected by the Smithsonian based on input from a panel of judges that is comprised of five teens, National Portrait Gallery Curator Dorothy Moss, and two guest judges.

Rights, Permissions, and Releases

Ownership of all portraits submitted for the NPG Teen Portrait Competition, including copyright, will remain the property of the teen who submitted the work, but it is a condition of entry that you grant to the Smithsonian and Pearson Foundation, each, an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide right to use and reproduce the submitted work(s) in the exhibition (in person or online), for the exhibition publications, archives, public programs, publicity, promotion, research, postcards, prints, posters, and other products, in all formats now known or later developed (including but not limited to electronic distribution on websites and social media accounts maintained by the Smithsonian or Pearson Foundation), made in connection with the NPG Teen Portrait Competition and related exhibitions.

By participating in this competition you represent that the materials you enter are your own original work.

Winners must secure a written model release from the subject to enable the Smithsonian to use and reproduce the portrait. Winners will be provided with a form for this purpose and given 2 weeks to return it. Failure to return an appropriate, signed model release may result in disqualification.

By participating in this competition, you acknowledge that the Smithsonian and Pearson Foundation shall have no obligation to post, display, or otherwise use the work that you submit. You further acknowledge that the image you submitted, along with identifying information such as your name, age, and hometown or school, may be displayed publicly at the National Portrait Gallery and online. Collection and use of personally identifiable information from teens or their parents and guardians will be done in accordance with the Smithsonian Privacy Policy as posted on

By participating in this competition, you agree to be bound by these rules, including all eligibility requirements. You further agree that all interpretations of the rules and decisions by the Smithsonian relating to the rules and the NPG Teen Portrait Competition are final. The Smithsonian reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any teen it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Portrait Competition or Web site or to be acting in violation of the Rules of Entry. Neither the Smithsonian and Pearson Foundation shall be responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of the Internet or any Web site, including injury or damage to those entering the competition or to any other person's computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading materials in this Portrait Competition. If, for any reason, the Teen Portrait Competition is not capable of running as planned, the Smithsonian reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Teen Portrait Competition.

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What is Portraiture?

Artists know that a portrait can communicate much more than a likeness. Personal identity, cultural differences, illusory moments—all can be captured through portraits. Portraits are created in a dizzying variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and other time-based media. It may be a traditional, representational work or it may be a more experimental portrait.

Click here to view some examples of portraits.

Looking for additional inspiration?

Visit the National Portrait Gallery website: