Competition services

The Competition Ombudsman of the Artists’ Association of Finland offers guidance to those interested in commissioning public artworks throughout the process, from choosing the right competition or order format to selecting an artist and communicating the results. We also appoint artist members to the juries and awards committees of art contests.

We provide commissioners with rules for open and invitational competitions, which provide the bases for different art contests of different sizes. We have also drawn up guidelines for both commissioners and artists on the process of ordering drafts from multiple artists and calling for portfolios.
Using the competition rules and guidelines of the Artists’ Association of Finland ensures that an art project is professional, the artworks are of high quality and the artists are treated fairly in the selection process.

This website only provides information on open competitions and calls for public art that comply with the competition rules or guidelines provided by the Artists’ Association of Finland, the Finnish State Art Commission, Ornamo or SAFA.

Open competitions

In an open competition, more than one artist is invited at the same time to submit a proposal for the same site, and the number of participants is unlimited. 

An open competition can be useful when the aim is to receive a large number of proposals and different concepts for consideration. Participants in an open competition are anonymous, so new and even surprising artists can be discovered who then produce a work of art. Competitions seek to elicit fresh views and provide positive visibility and publicity.

The competition period for open competitions is 4–12 months.

Invitational competitions

An invitational competition differs from an open competition in that certain artists, personally selected by the commissioner, are invited to participate. The benefits of an invitational competition compared to those of an open competition include reduced costs, a shorter competition period and the opportunity to present the art project and site to the invited artists. Invitational competitions are useful for projects that are clearly defined and limited.

Before opening an invitational competition, the organiser prepares a competition programme, budget and schedule, selects the artists to be invited and requests their consent to be in the competition.

The competition period is 2–4 months.

Open calls for portfolios

Open calls for portfolios differ from the above forms of competition in that the commissioner goes through artists’ portfolios to find a suitable professional visual artist for their art project. An open call for portfolios has the advantage of being a lighter process, as artists are not required to produce any sketches. It is easier to take part in a portfolio process, and the commissioner has a wider selection of artists to choose from. 

An open call for portfolios invites visual artists to submit their portfolios of existing work to demonstrate their skills. It is advisable to give participants at least three weeks to submit their portfolios. The committee or person responsible for selecting the artist on the basis of the portfolios must have expertise in visual arts and public art.

After the closing of an open call for portfolios, the actual design of the work of art begins. The submissions may be followed by either commissioning a work of art directly from an artist selected on the basis of their portfolio, an invitational competition or a restricted call for proposals. 

Restricted calls for portfolios

A restricted call for proposals is an art acquisition model in which a limited number of professional visual artists are commissioned to produce a proposal for a work of art for the same site at the same time. 

As an acquisition model, a restricted call for proposals is based on a dialogue between the commissioner and the artist. The purpose is to produce an interesting sketch, on the basis of which the work is commissioned. The artists can discuss their ideas with the commissioner, committee or appointed experts during the sketching process. When the chosen model is a restricted call for proposals, it is recommended that the commissioner consults experts and art coordinators who specialise in public art projects. 

The artists are given 2–4 months to produce their proposals, during which time they will meet with the committee or its appointed representatives. The largest costs of a restricted call for proposals for the organiser are the fees paid to the artists for their proposals and those paid to the artist members of the art committee.

Direct procurement

A work of public art can also be purchased directly from an artist. Commissioning an artist to produce a work of art is a suitable method when the commissioner has a clear idea of the nature and style of the work, and there is consensus on the choice of artist. Direct procurement is also an inexpensive and quick method to acquire a work of art. 

The commissioner may ask the artist to produce a sketch before making the final decision. The artist is always paid a separately agreed fee for a sketch. It is worth noting that if a work is commissioned directly from an artist, asking more than one artist to produce a sketch is not an option.

When a work is commissioned directly from an artist, it is necessary to draw up a sketch and commission contract with the artist. The Artists’ Association of Finland’s templates can be used for drafting the contract.
To find support for the decision-making, the commissioner is advised to consult artists’ websites, the Artist Register, the artist databank on the Taide rakentamisessa website as well as the operations of the Artists’ Association of Finland’s member associations (Artists’ Association MUU, the Association of Finnish Sculptors, the Association of Finnish Printmakers, the Finnish Painters’ Union and the Association of Photographic Artists).