Start Here: Contest Categories

For 2020, ASM's Agar Art Contest has 4 different categories, with different eligibility criteria and different prizes. Use this flowchart to figure out which category to submit to ("Traditional-General," "Traditional-Kids," "Open-General," "Open-Kids"). Then, see below for the specific details about how to create your submission. NOTE- ONLY TWO SUBMISSIONS TOTAL (“Traditional” + “Open”) BY THE SAME PARTICIPANT ARE PERMITTED. Questions? Email communications@asmusa.org.

Contest Rules

Traditional Category

First, we strongly discourage anyone from using this option if they do not feel safe. You should only proceed if you feel comfortable leaving your home, have safe working conditions in a laboratory and are able to access to appropriate resources. Otherwise, please consider the “Open” category option.
  1. Submissions should be high-quality photos (at least 8" x 10" at 300 ppi) of pieces that are, at their core, one or more microorganisms growing on agar.
    1. You may use any organism(s), with any type(s) of agar, on any size or shape petri dish.
    2. No digital or artificial enhancements or manipulations (e.g., false coloring through lighting or Photoshop) are permitted. Non-microbial props within the piece are also not allowed.
    3. Pieces should be new and original, not seen/posted on the internet before or previously published or displayed elsewhere.
    4. Pieces must be accompanied by a description that captures key features of the piece in language appropriate for a general audience. Note that the description is judged as well as the piece!
  2. Pieces must be created safely in the appropriate Bio Safety Level environment for the organism(s) used. For more information, please consult ASM's Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories.
  3. Each submission may have up to 5 credited artists. If the submitter contributed to the creation of a piece, he/she/they must list themselves as a credited artist with up to 4 additional credited artists. If the submitter did NOT contribute to the creation of a piece (for example, he/she/they is submitting on behalf of a child or workshop participant) he/she/they should NOT list themselves as credited artists.  
  4. Each credited artist may be listed on a maximum of 2 pieces (“Open” and “Traditional” combined). 
  5. Submitters must be at least 18 years old. Minors must have an adult who is, or has permission from, the appropriate legal guardian submit on their behalf. ASM is not responsible for obtaining the permission of legal guardians or verifying that it has been obtained.
  6. Submitters must choose the appropriate contest category based on the age of the credited artists and type of submission. Pieces determined by ASM staff to have been submitted to the wrong category may be disqualified without prior notice to the submitter or to credited artists.

Open Category

For this option, we want you to emphasize the “Art” component of Agar Art. Using “microbes are beautiful” as your theme, we invite you to create a work of art (à la Picasso or Garfunkel) that tells a story. Paint a picture, sing a song, write a poem 10 pages long. However you feel like expressing yourself and your idea, as long as microbes are featured, we’ll accept your submission.
  1. Submissions may use any form of media that can be transmitted electronically to illustrate the theme of “microbes are beautiful.”
    1. Pieces should be new and original, not seen/posted on the internet before or previously published or displayed elsewhere.
    2. Pieces must be accompanied by a description that captures key features of the piece in language appropriate for a general audience. Note that the description is judged as well as the piece!
  2. Only the following file types will be accepted.
    1. Image files should be .jpg, .tif, .png or .gif no larger than 10 MB. For print purposes, your file must measure at least 8 inches x 10 inches with 300 dpi or greater resolution (see this information on image properties).
    2. Word/text files should be .pdf no larger than 10 MB.
    3. Video files should be uploaded to a third-party website, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Make sure that the privacy settings allow viewers. Please paste the link in the appropriate field on the submission form.
    4. We cannot accept physical submissions.
  3. Each submission may have up to 5 credited artists. If the submitter contributed to the creation of a piece, he/she/they must list themselves as a credited artist with up to 4 additional credited artists. If the submitter did NOT contribute to the creation of a piece (for example, he/she/they is submitting on behalf of a child or workshop participant) he/she/they should NOT list themselves as credited artists.  
  4. Each credited artist may be listed on a maximum of 2 pieces (“Open” and “Traditional” combined). 
  5. Submitters must be at least 18 years old. Minors must have an adult who is, or has permission from, the appropriate legal guardian submit on their behalf. ASM is not responsible for obtaining the permission of legal guardians or verifying that it has been obtained.
  6. Submitters must choose the appropriate contest category based on the age of the credited artists and type of submission. Pieces determined by ASM staff to have been submitted to the wrong category may be disqualified without prior notice to the submitter or to credited artists.

Judging Process

All Categories

Agar Art Contest judges include ASM members, past Agar Art contest winners and professional artists. All submissions go through an initial first cut to narrow entries to the top 45-50 finalists in each category. Note that ratings are subjective and up to the discretion of the judges.

Traditional Category

Finalists in the "Traditional" category will be judged on the following criteria:
  1. Image
    • Creativity: How creative and original is the use of microorganisms/agar? How creative and original is the subject matter and design?
    • Artistry of the Piece: How intricate, detailed or difficult is the design produced? Does the piece show anticipation of microbial characteristics such as growth patterns, interactions between microbes or change in agar color?
    • Presentation: Is the quality of the photo good? Does the presentation enhance or detract from the piece?
  2. Description
    • Overall quality and accessibility: Is the description informative and engaging? Is it written so that it can be understood by someone with little or no background in microbiology?
    • Scientific content: Does the description include information about the organisms and agar used? How accurate is the scientific information included in the description?

Open Category

Finalists in the "Open" category will be judged based on the following criteria:

  1. Media
    • Overall: How well does the submission align with the description? Does the submission convey the theme of “microbes are beautiful?”
    • Creativity: How creative and original is the subject matter and design/execution?
    • Artistry: How intricate, detailed or difficult is the work produced? If applicable, how well-made is the submission (visual/audio media only)?
  2. Description
    • Overall quality and accessibility: Is the description informative and engaging? Is it written so that it can be understood by someone with little or no background in microbiology?
    • Scientific content: How accurate is the scientific information included in the description?

Prizes!

Prizes are awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place submissions in each category. Finalists in the "General" categories are eligible for the People's Choice awards, voted on by visitors to the ASM Facebook page.
 
  Traditional-General Traditional-Kids Open-General Open-Kids
1st Place $200 Visa gift card $150 Visa gift card + GIANTmicrobe $200 Visa gift card $150 Visa gift card + GIANTmicrobe
2nd Place $150 Visa gift card $100 Visa gift card + GIANTmicrobe $150 Visa gift card $100 Visa gift card + GIANTmicrobe
3rd Place $100 Visa gift card $50 Visa gift card + GIANTmicrobe $100 Visa gift card $50 Visa gift card + GIANTmicrobe
People's Choice $50 Visa gift card -- $50 Visa gift card --


 

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