The bluethumb Art Prize

Shifting landscapes in the art market as the success of the online bluethumb Art Prize opens up new avenues of opportunity for emerging artists.

For emerging artists, a free option to platform their art to an online audience has been in the form of bluethumb. A digital marketplace, bluethumb aims to overcome traditional and physical boundaries between collectors and artists. With no expectations, artists can create a profile for free to platform and sell their work.

Alongside its role as an online market, the company aims to provide opportunities for exposure and promotion through the bluethumb Art Prize. An inaugural prize, the exhibition moves the artists from the digital into the physical – bringing a list of finalists together at No Vacancy Gallery in January 2017.

Whilst 100 pieces were shortlisted from the 1140 entrants, 25 works were selected for the exhibition out of the 100 pieces shortlisted. The quantity of entrants promises a strong and competitive field for young artists to engage with.

Kirsten Sivyer was awarded the bluethumb prize of $10,000 for her work Home Away from Home – awarded by bluethumb’s co-founder Edward Hartley. Kirsten says her work considers “the relationship of modern first world life to the natural environment; a common need to control and protect ourselves from nature which for some, perhaps belies a deeper desire to surrender and belong.”

The considerable prize money on offer, alongside the recognition is critical to emerging artists continuation and development of their practices.

Awarded the People’s Choice award was Sam Michelle, who took inspiration from the female form in her fluid work. She states “I draw inspiration from my girlfriends, my bather series was painted from photos I took of a girlfriend and the swimmer series was painted from a swimming session with some friends.

And finally runner-up was Jimmy Donegan, awarded $1,000 for his work The Pukara Rock Hole. The Pukara Rock Hole lies in sandy country, and the stories attached to the site are plentiful, linking to great travellers from the Dreamtime.

Interestingly the bluethumb Art Prize is free to enter and submissions are online, with the artists able change their artwork at any time before entries close. Art is for sale throughout the exhibition process, making sure there are no prohibits upon artists from making money. An innovative buying and promoting art system, as cofounder and managing director Edward Hartley states “we’re investing this success back into our artists with the art prize. We’ve created a new platform and way of running an art prize that keeps administration costs minimal.”

Innovative, different and an ongoing success, it is a refreshing platform that is helping stimulate success and growth for emerging artists in Australia.


Courtesy the artists and bluethumb.


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