Fostering the Personal Expression of American Imagery

The American Icon Art Competition was born in 2012 at the Sausalito Art Festival Communications Group meeting in Sausalito, California. Then, the natural union of the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Festival's 60th anniversary, soon became evident. The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most iconic structures in the world, became the subject of the first American Icon Art Competition. 

Today, The American Icon Art Competition offers a global opportunity for amateurs and professionals alike to submit their best creations via a low carbon footprint. Furthermore, tens of thousands of interested, art-savvy patrons coming to the Sausalito Art Festival from around the world, will have the opportunity to view the submissions. Each year, the Festival creates a dedicated multimedia presentation to highlight the Competition.  Artwork from previous Competitions can be seen in our Galleries section.

The 2018 American Icon Art Competition theme is "Americans at Work".  There is $3000 in prize money and entry deadline is August 5, 2018. 

All proceeds from the Sausalito Art Festival and the American Icon Art Competition are used to promote the arts through scholarships, grants, education programs and public events that encourage, promote, and support the arts for the community.

The mission of the Sausalito Art Festival’s American Icon Art Competition is to foster through art, the personal expression of American imagery, from people of all artistic skill levels and background, and to do so in an innovative, creative and ecologically sustainable way.

CONTEST RULES: 2018 american icon art competition 

The 2018 American Icon Art Competition's theme is "Americans at Work: Who. What. Where.” Using photography, painting, drawing, sculpture and mixed media, we seek submissions by both professional and amateur artists that communicate their idea of who the American worker is; the type of work they do, and where they do it.

The Jury retains the right to reject submissions that do not fit the guidelines or spirit of the Competition. 

For more information contact us at: americanicon@sausalitoartfestival.org

Deadline for Entry - August 5, 2018, Midnight Pacific Standard Time

Notification: Winning entrants will be notified by email approximately two weeks after the submission deadline.

You will receive a confirmation e-mail upon your submission and payment.

Exhibition of up to the Top Finalists and winners will be Labor Day Weekend, 2018 during the Sausalito Art Festival at a special multimedia venue dedicated to the American Icon Art Competition. The exhibition video will be posted on this website upon completion of the Festival.

Rules for Entry

  1. Competition is open to everyone, both professional and amateur artists alike. 
  2. Artists may submit photography, painting, drawing, sculpture and mixed media.
  3. Each submission must include a title. 
  4. Each entry must include a brief description of the image. 
  5. The Sausalito Art Festival Foundation and American Icon Art Competition shall have the right to display accepted work and reproduce accepted work for educational and promotional purposes in both printed and electronic form.
  6. The Sausalito Art Festival Foundation has the sole right to refuse any submission that is deemed inappropriate.
  7. Each artist warrants that he or she has obtained all necessary releases from models and other subjects features in the works of art and any additional releases required with respect to names, trademarks, designs or works of art depicted in the submitted work of art and that the creation, display or distribution of the work of art will not violate any law.
  8. Each artist warrants that he or she alone created the submitted work of art or if there are collaborators, they are also named. Submissions of an entry to this competition implies acceptance of all above stated conditions. 
  9. Entries must be original works of art and not copies, derivatives or based in anyway on other copyrighted or published works of art. 
  10. We will accept appropriated images as long as the original creator is acknowledged and credited and your methodology is explained.  


Judging will be conducted by nationally recognized, long-established professional artists and other competent individuals in the creative professions and academics. The Competition gives artists the unique platform to express their vision of Americans celebrating based on their personal experiences, observations and ideals. 

Each submission will be judged for creative, thought-provoking, contemporary and historical significance as well as artistic and creative merit.

Submission Guidelines

Please follow our guidelines carefully. This will insure prompt consideration of your artwork and will allow us to showcase it in the highest quality possible.

We reserve the right to reject any submission that does not follow the technical specification guidelines as defined below.


  1. Entry price-  $10.00 for the first image and $25.00 for three (3) images.
  2. Whether you are a professional or amateur, you’ll be eligible to be part of the digital American Icon exhibit at the Sausalito Art Festival. 
  3. The images entered into the competition will be judged by an esteemed panel of artists and other professionals. 

Technical Specification Guidelines

  • Number of images submitted: 1 or 3 
  • File format: JPEG 
  • Color profile: sRGB
  • Please submit no more than 3 images.
  • Each image file name should be exactly how you want the title to appear on the site. The title should be all lower-case characters with underscores separating each word. Example: my_american_icon_.jpg
  • No images larger than 2 megabytes.
  • For images taken with a mobile device, please follow the guidelines listed below:
    • Mobile device image above 8 mp send ‘small’
    • Mobile device image below 8 mp send ‘medium'



Is there an age restriction for applicants? 

Is the contest open to both professionals and amateurs? 
Yes. We encourage both amateurs and professionals to submit their images. 

What artistic medium can I use? 
We will accept painting, photography, mixed media and sculpture.

Can I submit black & white and/or color photographs? 
Yes, both color and black & white, are eligible. Images will be judged as one category and on merit alone, not whether they are color or monochrome. 

What kind of subject matter can I submit? 
The subject matter is Americans at Work.  Within that context, you may be as creative as you wish. 

May appropriated art be submitted? 
Yes, but only if you credit the creator of the original image and detail the context. 
Appropriated art is using pre-existing images created by someone other than you with little or no transformation as the basis for your new work. 

What is the competition deadline? 
Deadline for submissions is midnight (PST) August 5, 2018.


Can I submit digital or film-based photographs? 
Yes, you may submit both digital and film-based photographs.

How many photographic images may I submit? 
You may submit up to three images. 

Do I need model releases for my photographs? 
You will need model releases where required by California law. It is your responsibility to understand California law as it relates to model releases, when and where they are required. 


When will I be notified that you received my submittal? 
You will receive a confirmation email upon your submittal and payment. 

If my art is accepted, when will it be exhibited?
The exhibition will take place during the Sausalito Art Festival, held over Labor Day Weekend. The exhibition will have its own venue at the Festival. 

How will the artwork be installed and exhibited? 
The exhibition will be presented in a digital format. The Top Finalists will be displayed in our presentation video on large screens and will be accompanied by an appropriate sound piece.


How will the contest and exhibit be promoted? 
The American Icon Art Competition will take place during the Sausalito Art Festival and all attendees - approximately 35,000 - will be directed to the exhibition site by signage throughout the Festival grounds. The American Icon Art Competition will be listed in the Festival program and will be promoted extensively in both traditional and social media. 

Will my art be used to promote the American Icon Art Competition and/or the Sausalito Art Festival?
By submitting images to the American Icon Art Competition 2018 you agree to allow the American Icon Art Competition, The Sausalito Art Festival, and the Sausalito Art Festival Foundation to use your image(s) for promotional and educational purposes. 

By entering the Competition does the artist retain the copyrights for the submitted work?

Yes. Artists retain the copyrights to the work they enter into the Competition.