Art Scholarships in 2020: An Exhaustive List (& How to Apply)

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 2/20/20

Going to art school is an incredible step for a budding artist, but the costs of attendance can be overwhelming. However, there are plenty of scholarships aimed at helping talented individuals fund their education.

Art scholarships are highly competitive since they are all merit-based. While you can take on other types of student financial aid like grants or student loans, receiving a scholarship to go to art school is a huge honor.

Fortunately, there are several art scholarships you can apply for that will help get you through art school. These can mark that you are a talented art student, but art scholarships are not likely to cover the entire cost of attending art school. Looking for other types of financial aid helps too.

What Are Merit-Based Scholarships?

When you look at scholarships and grants to get through college, you will look at two types of financial aid: need-based and merit-based. Students who get into college but who do not have access to enough money to attend can qualify for need-based aid. These typically come in the form of:

  • Scholarships from the college.
  • Federal grants.
  • Subsidized federal loans.
  • State-based scholarships and loans.

Merit-based financial aid, on the other hand, is most often found as a scholarship or competition. There are a variety of talents and interests that you can use to apply for merit-based aid, including: 

  • Academics.
  • Athletics.
  • Creative pursuits like music.
  • Research and technology.

If you can think of a subject you are good at, there will likely be a merit-based scholarship or academic competition using these criteria. If you intend to go to art school specifically, applying for art scholarships will show that your portfolio is ahead of other students’ work.

Art Scholarships Divided by Type

National, local, and school-based scholarships are available to help you through art school. This list covers some of the best art scholarships in 2020. 

State-Specific Art Scholarships 

  • Archibald Rutledge Scholarship Program: High school seniors in South Carolina who plan to remain in the state for college can apply for this scholarship program. If awarded, you receive $2,000. There are five creative categories you can apply for.
    • Creative writing
    • Dance
    • Music
    • Theatre 
    • Visual arts

This scholarship can go to costs like tuition, room and board, and supplies or other resources for class. To apply, you must submit your portfolio, a reflection statement, and one process folio. Contents of your portfolio can vary based on your creative field. 

  • Arts for Life! Scholarship: This award goes to Florida high school students planning to study dance, music, drama, creative writing, or visual arts in college. Awards of $1,000 each will go to 25 outstanding college-bound young artists in the Sunshine State. You must submit your portfolio and a brief essay.
  • Esther Kanagawa Memorial Art Scholarship: This scholarship is for high school seniors living in Hawaii who will major in fine arts at an accredited state college or university. Eligible applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.7 and demonstrate financial need. The award amount varies.

    In addition to academic, financial need, and residency requirements, this scholarship requires that you submit an essay, your SAT or ACT scores, a transcript, and FAFSA information.
  • Florence Lemcke Memorial Scholarship Fund: For graduating high school seniors in the state of Washington who plan to study fine arts and are the child, grandchild, or great-grandchild of a veteran of war. Fine arts include these disciplines:
    • Painting
    • Drawing
    • Sculpture
    • Photography
    • Literature
    • Architecture
    • Poetry
    • Dance
    • Music
    • Drama

You can receive up to $1,000 toward school. You must submit the application packet and list community organizations to which you belong. You must also include three letters of recommendation, an original essay, a transcript, and some information about the war veteran in your family. 

  • Zinggia! Art Scholarship: Ohio high school students can receive $2,000 to enter art-related fields, including creative works like poetry and painting, or less well-known pursuits like printmaking. To apply for this scholarship, you must be a current high school senior in Ohio, have a 3.0 GPA, and plan to use the money at an art school, four-year institution, or two-year trade school.

    Your portfolio must include five art samples, your transcript, and a signed letter of recommendation.

Art Scholarships Open to National Applicants

  • AIGA Worldstudio Scholarships: Students with significant financial need, at least a 2.0 grade point average (GPA), and who are currently studying fine art, graphic design, photography, or illustration can apply for this award. You can receive up to $6,000, but the award might be adjusted if you have less financial need.

    This scholarship is awarded to minority or underprivileged students studying some creative fields, to encourage social and environmental responsibility in future generations of artists. To apply, you must write a statement of purpose, information on the college you are or will be attending, a self-portrait, a portfolio, and financial information proving you have significant need. 
  • Art Renewal Center Scholarship Competition: The Art Renewal Center (ARC) offers $30,000 divided between 10 recipients whose artwork reflects traditional or contemporary realism. Work samples must be included in the application, but can include forms like:
    • Still life.
    • Portraiture.
    • Natural representations.

The award will go to students who plan to attend ARC-approved schools. The application is entirely online, so you will need digital copies of your artwork. 

  • Catherine W. Pierce Scholarship: This scholarship is for current minority college students at UNCF member colleges and universities who are majoring in art or art history and have at least a 2.5 GPA. You can receive up to $4,500 toward tuition, although you must submit a one-page essay as part of your application.
  • Stacey Scholarship Fund: This award is for undergraduate and graduate students between the ages of 18 and 35 years old who dedicate themselves to classical or conservative traditions in fields like:
    • Painting from life.
    • Drawing the figure (nude).
    • Composition.
    • Landscape.
    • Related examples.

Awards range between $500 and $5,000. Applications run along the lines of other art scholarships, including a portfolio, short statement or essay, and recommendation letters. The fund is clear, however, that your work must remain in a classical or conservative tradition throughout your time in art school. 

  • F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship: While many of the listed awards go specifically toward college or university, this scholarship offers $12,000 that can go toward either formal or informal art education, including travel for your education. This program was established by the Belin estate to fund artists of many ages seeking additional education and professional development, who already display outstanding aptitude in the fine arts.

Art Scholarships Based on Demographics

  • Against the Grain Artistic Scholarship: Funds are available for Asian American college students who have at least 25% Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity. Students must pursue a major in a creative field, including performing arts, journalism, mass communication, or visual arts. They must also have between a 3.0 and 4.0 GPA. Both high school seniors and current college students are eligible to apply for this $1,000 scholarship.

    When you apply, your artistic portfolio or essay will be evaluated. In addition, you must also demonstrate good academic performance, leadership or community service, and send letters of recommendation. If you move to the second phase, you must undergo a phone interview.
  • Congressional Black Caucuses (CBC) Spouses Visual Art and Performing Art Scholarships: For African American or black college students majoring in a creative field like these:
    • Architecture
    • Ceramics
    • Drawing
    • Fashion
    • Graphic design
    • Illustration
    • Interior design
    • Painting
    • Photography
    • Sketching
    • Video production
    • Theatre
    • Comedy
    • Drama
    • Music
    • Dance
    • Opera
    • Marching band

The award amount varies. Each field has somewhat different criteria but will require you to demonstrate excellence in your creative pursuits. 

  • Lois Livingston McMillen Fund: This is a scholarship for women in Connecticut studying fine arts, with a preference toward those studying painting or design. You can receive between $500 and $4,000.

Art Scholarships Do Not Cover Your Full Educational Needs

While the scholarships listed here help to lessen the financial burden of art school, you will need additional methods to pay for your college education. Few of these merit-based scholarships will cover your tuition or other needs. You should also submit a FAFSA, ask your high school guidance counselor about college scholarships, and work with your college’s financial aid office to get grants, work-study opportunities, and student loans.