NICHE Awards

2016 NICHE Awards Guidelines

Entries for the 2016 NICHE Awards will be accepted from
April 6, 2015, to August 21, 2015.

The NICHE Awards competition is open to professional craft artists ages 21 and older who reside in America or Canada and are actively involved in the design and production of craft work supplied to galleries and/or craft stores. All work must have been made and finished in the United States or Canada. Work produced or finished in secondary studios in other countries may not be submitted.
The NICHE Awards Student competition is open to any craft student attending an American or Canadian undergraduate, graduate or certificate arts program, and the work itself must have been produced in the United States or Canada while the student was attending the arts program. Student artists may enter as a student for up to one (1) year after graduation; however, the work submitted must have been produced while an artist was still a student.
The 2015 NICHE Awards competition seeks NEW WORK in all categories, whether student or professional.  Submitted work must have been designed, produced or introduced afterOctober 1, 2014 to be eligible. Work previously submitted to the competition will not be accepted. All work must be designed and made by the artist or a collaboration of artists, with all collaborators identified.


The only way to enter the 2016 NICHE Awards or 2016 NICHE Student Awards is by completing an application online. Paper applications will not be accepted.
One application (and one fee) enables you to submit three pieces of work. Only one application is allowed per artist. Each application allows for up to three pieces of work to be submitted. Artists who submit more than one application or more than three pieces will be disqualified.
No more than two pieces may be submitted in any single category. If you submit three pieces, the third piece must be entered in a different category.  You may choose to submit artworks in three different categories if you wish.
The competition is judged on a per piece basis, not on an application or portfolio basis. It is therefore possible to be a two-time or three-time finalist or winner in a given year.
Artists may enter in either the professional division or student division, but not in both in a given year.
Entries must be submitted by the artist in the artist’s name, not in the name of a company or school. A piece submitted as a collaboration must name all collaborators, and can be submitted only once  and in only one application (in other words, collaborators should not submit separate applications using the same work of art).
No additional images showing detail will be accepted for jurying. The image photo submitted may be enlarged by the judges to see detail. Each image must show a separate piece of work and show the work in its entirety.
One piece, one category: An artwork can be entered only one time in one category.
Assemblages and installation art will not be accepted in any category: The mission of the NICHE Awards is to identify the best of fine craft artworks and products, which are collectible in quality and design and suitable for the consumer market. The sponsor of the competition is NICHE magazine, the trade magazine for retailers of fine craft and artist-made products who buy wholesale.
NICHE magazine reserves the right to merge categories that do not accrue an appropriate number of applications. Also, the judges reserve the right to shift a piece to a different category, and to combine, create or eliminate categories.
The cost to enter is $40 for professionals, $20 for professionals who will be exhibiting at American Made Show in 2016, and $20 for students.
The application fee can be paid by credit card. First submit your artwork through our contest application website. Then make your payment. To make a payment by credit card, please use our secure payment site. The link to the payment site will be given upon completion of your application
Applicants will receive an email notification when their payment has been processed and their application is accepted.

NICHE magazine accepts only digital images for the 2016 NICHE Awards and 2016 NICHE Student Awards. There is no paper application.
Images must be in JPEG format, 300 dpi and approximately 4×6 inches (1200×1800 pixels) in size. Images not meeting these standards will not be reviewed.
Artist renderings or sketches and digitally created images will not be accepted. The photo should represent a piece as it actually looks.
Images submitted are understood to be the property of the artist with the right to use them for unlimited publication. All photography credits (when applicable) must be submitted with the application.
Artists participating in the competition agree and accept that all images submitted to the competition may be used by NICHE magazine in upcoming issues and for other promotional purposes, including publication in any media, printed or online, including books about the NICHE Awards.


  • Apply for all protections necessary (e.g. copyright, patent or photographer’s release).
  • Submit high-quality images with a plain background. Evenly distribute lighting from at least three light sources so that no shadows are cast. Hire a professional photographer to photograph your work whenever possible.
  • Present fashions as worn by professional models.
  • Photograph jewelry alone, not worn by a model. Use a solid, neutral (preferably white) non-textured background.

Each entry is judged individually. The judges’ scores are not cumulative per application, but reflect their decisions per individual image entry. The work is judged on the following:

  • Technical excellence, both in surface design and form
  • A distinct quality of unique, original and creative thought
  • Market viability (professional entries only)

Decisions of the judges will be final. Notifications will be sent to finalists in October 2015.  There are typically several finalists and one winner per category. The number of finalists per category is determined by the volume of submissions within that category. Judges reserve the right to award a tie.
Finalists will receive an awards certificate, a listing in NICHE magazine (professionals only) and a listing in the printed Buyers Guide of American Made Show, January 2016.
Finalists will also be invited to display their piece in a special exhibit at American Made Show in Washington, D.C. The artists are responsible for dropping off and picking up their work. Finalists who cannot deliver and pick up their work have the option of sending a framed photograph of the piece. If the finalist’s piece is no longer in the artist’s possession (for example, if the piece has been sold, the artist may submit it with the written permission of the owner, or may submit a photograph). Participating in the display exposes the finalists’ work to thousands of retailers from across the country; any offers of purchase are to be negotiated directly between the artist and customer following the trade show. All pieces must remain in the display for the duration of the exhibition. All artists who participate in the display do so at their own risk of damage, accident or loss.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony held during the American Made Show in 2016.
Winners will receive an awards certificate, trophy, listing on the NICHE Awards website and a listing in the Spring 2016 edition of NICHE magazine.
Information about the ceremony and special display will be included in the finalists’ promotional packets.
Apply here.