Press ReleaseEntries Sought for ICPL’s 2016 Art Purchase Prize

The Iowa City Public Library is seeking entries for the 2016 Art Purchase Prize contest, and this year there is a theme. We’re looking for artists to envision and create new book covers for classic works of literature that are in the public domain.

When titles enter the public domain, anyone can re-publish them, and the book covers are often dull, auto-generated designs. Some of the most influential and well-loved books are now cloaked in uninspired (and uninspiring) covers. Here is your chance to use your imagination and artistic creativity to dream up something different.

The Art Purchase Prize is open to artists over the age 18 who live/work/exhibit in the Iowa City or the Johnson County area. Library employees and their immediate family are ineligible for entry.

The criteria for this year’s contest are the same as other years, except that the subject of your artwork should be a cover for a classic book in the public domain. A complete list of books that qualify can be found at The cover aspect of the work should be vertically oriented, and the book title and author’s name should be clearly visible. Any two-dimensional or low-relief media are acceptable, including: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, collage, paper/textile and mixed media. Only original art will be accepted.

To enter, artists should submit a digital image representation of their original work(s), and those should be in .jpeg format, with a minimum resolution of 72 dpi and a minimum size of 1024 x 768 pixels. Artists may enter two artworks.

Finished artwork must be at least 12 x 12 and no larger than 34 x 34. Works chosen for final judging should be unframed, and matted and/or mounted as needed to create a finished piece. Archival or museum-quality materials must be used for printing, mounting and matting. Works must be suitable for framing and covering with Plexiglas.

The Library takes responsibility for framing works chosen for purchase.

Entries can be emailed to, or mailed on disc to Candice Smith at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., Iowa City, IA 52240. Entries must include the artist's name, address, phone number and email, and the following for each artwork: title, medium, size/matted size (if appropriate), and price. Artwork should be priced under $300.

Entries will be accepted from Aug. 1 through Sept. 2. The first round of judging will be on Sept. 6.

This year’s contest will coincide with a larger exhibit hosted by the Library, Recovering the Classics. Recovering the Classics is a national campaign to give new book covers to classic works of literature that are in the public domain. The exhibit will feature 50 of the covers designed by artists for the national campaign, as well as an exhibit of covers created by members of the community. All works will be exhibited during the Iowa City Book Festival in October. While the community-wide exhibit is open to anyone, the Art Purchase Prize contest will still follow its regular criteria for entry.

For more information, visit or contact Candice Smith at