Solarpunk Art Contest 2021

Yishan Wong
5 min readSep 1, 2021


Update: The winners have been announced!

Original post follows:

I am running a contest with awards totaling $18,500 for the ten best pieces of original solarpunk art.

The contest will run from September 1 — November 1, 2021.

(See Details on Prize Amounts section at the end of this post for more)


The format can be any visual medium (digital, ink, paint, 3D, animated, etc). It should be original art, not published elsewhere.

Winners will be judged at my sole discretion. If you are selected as a winner, you will retain all rights to your work, but you agree to grant me a perpetual license to reproduce the work for my own non-commercial purposes (i.e. I want to be able to post it on social media and say things like, “This is the vision of the future that I want to see!”).

Send submissions to

Submission should include:

  • A high resolution image of your final artwork (character, environment or key moment)
  • Work-in-progress artwork to show the development of your entry including thumbnails and progress shots
  • Please make sure to include your full name and a link to your portfolio

Why Am I Doing This?

I was inspired by Justine Norton-Kertson’s recent call for submissions to a solarpunk anthology, “Solarpunk Sunscapes: Optimistic Visions of the Future” looking for short stories or poems centered on the solarpunk theme. Their contest page explains the genre well (emphasis mine):

What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk is a subgenre of science fiction that developed as a reaction to cyberpunk, the decades long dominance of apocalyptic fiction, and a growing desire to tell, read, hear, and watch stories that provide solutions to the very real and potentially catastrophic challenges of climate change. Solarpunk tells optimistic and hopeful stories about future societies (near-future or distant) powered by renewable energy, and where nature and technology coexist in harmony rather than in conflict. This is a subgenre that’s about restoring the web of life that connects us all. It’s about a desire to protect all life, not just human life. It’s about the drive to embrace and empower life, and restore the planet.

Solarpunk futures aren’t usually “perfect” utopias. Well sometimes they are, or at least really close — but not always, not even usually — and even when they come close they are still never without conflict and challenges. But they also are absolutely not dystopias.

A perfect utopia will never be achieved. However, if solarpunk societies haven’t yet reached some sort of utopian ideal, then the communities in solarpunk stories have still either solved, or are at least in the process of optimistically working together to solve or adapt to the climate crisis. They are consciously and collectively working to create a better world that is ecologically sustainable and is also free from racism, patriarchy, greed and inequity, war, hunger, etc. In short, solarpunk stories always highlight diversity and demonstrate how humanity has overcome or adapted climate change and other global social problems.

There Is A Better Future And We Can Build It

We have been conditioned through relentless negative media and predictions of apocalypse to believe that mankind has no hope. While it is true that we face unprecedented challenges and have made many collective mistakes, I believe that humanity has the spirit and ability to overcome them. We can create a better future. We need a new and optimistic vision of our world.

To bring about this future we require not only science and technology and better politics, but a new aesthetic. We need art and music and film and even advertising that paints the picture for us of what our future can be, if only we are willing to work together and build it.

That’s what this contest is about. If you believe as I do, I invite you to join me.

What Can I Do To Help?

If you are an artist, I invite you to submit your art to this contest.

If you are an investor or philanthropist, I invite you to pitch in for the prize pool. You can either offer to award your own prizes for the submissions or donate to increase the awards for the ten winners that I choose.

If you aren’t either of the above, please spread the word about this contest to people who might be. We seek entries from artists from all over the world!

If this contest is successful, I promise to expand the effort — with further contests and to promote the artists who speak this language.

Details on Prize Amounts:

First Place: $2,740 + $100 reprint purchase offer to publish the winning entry as cover art on one of the six first year issues of Solarpunk Magazine + $1,000 payable in SOL (Ryan will help you claim).

Second Place: $2,140

Third Place: $1,740

7 other winners: $1,540

All ten winners will receive a free digital copy of the inaugural issue of Solarpunk Magazine


04 Sep 21: Additional donations from Gaia Dempsey, Christian Anderson of Watershed, Hal Hefner, and Artur Piszek have added another $2,900 to the prize pool!

04 Sep 21 5:40 HST: Ryan Rzepecki has offered $1,000 payable in $SOL to the first place winner (he’ll show you how to claim and exchange).

02 Sep 21 5:57 HST: Blakelock Brown has offered to add $2000 to the total prize pool, with $1200 to first place, $600 to second place, and $200 for third place!

02 Sep 21 14:54 HST: An anonymous donor has offered to add $1000 to the total prize pool! (Each award will now be $1250)

02 Sep 21 9:53 HST: Diego Saez-Gil of Pachama has offered to add $500 to the total prize pool! (Each award will now be $1150)

01 Sep 21 2:27 HST: Justine Norton-Kertson has offered a free digital copy of the inaugural issue of Solarpunk Magazine to all ten winners, and a $100 reprint purchase offer to publish the #1 winning entry as cover art on one of the six first year issues! (Artwork will need to be 8.5x11, portrait page orientation, and at least 300 DPI)

01 Sep 21 21:33 HST: Received an offer from Mark Lutter at CCI to add $1000 to the total prize pool! (Each award will now be $1100)

All prize contributions are tracked here: Solarpunk Art Contest 2021 Prizes

About Me

Yishan Wong is the founder and CEO of Terraformation, a company dedicated to solving climate change by scaling global native forest restoration. Previously, he served as the CEO of Reddit, and various engineering and management positions at Facebook and PayPal. He currently resides on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, where he wishes he could live an otherwise uneventful life with his family, children, and dogs.



Yishan Wong