How can I get artwork accepted by the RA?

david aston 2 By David Aston, EY Director of Wealth and Asset Management


Top tips for getting artwork accepted by the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) from David Aston, an EY employee whose work was selected for their 2015 Summer Exhibition.

david aston
David Aston, UNTITLED, RA

Do what you would do to improve your chances on any pitch – lots of research – but expect a lot more subjectivity in the decision making!

  • Research the deadline and T&Cs. The RA limits the number of digital applications to 12,000 so buy your application form early. To prove the point, the applications for this year’s exhibition are now sold out.
  • Know the culture / history. The RA has been organising summer exhibitions for nearly 250 years. The theme changes every year but there is a house style which is reflected in the selected works. Visiting and researching previous exhibitions is key to understanding if your work is likely to fit in, or if you are prolific, which works are more likely to be selected.
  • Know your audience. The selection committee is made up of Royal Academicians (RAs) and changes every year. Typically one RA will lead the Summer Exhibition, develop the theme for the year and lead the selection committee. Committee members are announced on the website giving you the opportunity to do some background research. Understanding the committee’s individual artistic styles and visual preferences may increase your chances of catching their eye. There are a number of architects in this year’s committee so will they prefer bold 2D or sculptural works?
  • Do – be original and submit work that you love. The exhibition selection process is a visual test so your work needs to be original and stand out from the other 11,999. You may want to test your short list with friends to identify works with the most impact or wide appeal.
  • Don’t – aim to please and create copycat works that are in vogue. So no tadpoles in formaldehyde with yellow and red spots on 🙂

Good luck with this and other entries.

Written by our people, inspired by art.


EY are corporate members of RA and EY employees receive free access.