Solarpunk Art Contest 2021 — Winners

First place: Elijah Johnson

I’m excited to announce the winners of the Solarpunk Art Contest 2021!

From the original post:

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.

I am deeply honored by all the artists who shared their creative energies, and in the collaborative spirit of solarpunk, I’ve collected the top entries into a montage video — if you’re looking for the most enjoyable way to experience the winning entries, here it is!

First place: Elijah Johnson

A still shot of the winning entry appears as the banner on this post, but the full entry was a wonderful short animation:

“This animated piece is as experimental as the concept itself: a solar-powered Farm of the Future; spanning acres, growing many types of crops/vegetation and sustained with a combination of large solar generators, and wind power. In a future where the earth is thriving and farmlands and architecture are designed with the reverence of temples, the crops and farmers work together behind a solar-walled city.”

The first place winner will receive:

  • $2,790 in cash
  • $1,000 payable in SOL from Ryan Rzepecki (Ryan will contact you)
  • $100 reprint purchase offer as cover art in one of the six first year issues of Solarpunk Magazine

Congratulations and thank you!

More of Elijah Johnson’s work can be found here:

Second place: Stephan Nance

In a surprise twist, second place goes to Stephan Nance, who composed the inspiring original song Metropolis of Eden, which is the music you hear in the winners montage video.

You can listen to it here (m4a, 6.7MB).

Full lyrics here, and WAV version (29.3MB).

How long has it been

Since we last felt fear of the sun and the wind

And how long will it be till we feel

The Metropolis of Eden we live in is real?

The second place winner will receive $2,190 in cash. Congratulations!

More of Stephan Nance’s music can be found at Spark Bird Music. My opinion: this song may very well be their best work yet!

Third Place: Helia Jam

Third Place: Helia Jam

Third place goes to Helia Jam, a graphic designer who hails from Persia who’s into solarpunk, anarcho primitivism, and gardening.

Third place will receive $1,790 in cash. Congratulations!

Remaining Top Ten:

In no particular order, here are the other Top Ten winners, who will each receive $1,590 in cash:

Top Ten: Leif Holt

Top Ten: Leif Holt

“The concept is inspired by the hikeable buttes here in Eugene, Oregon and dreams I have had this year. A vision of a city with large buildings that are like green sloping mountains, covered with wild plants and meadows and edible gardens and forests, with trails and secret paths and places for all the animals and people to live and walk up and down their sides. Many of the buildings also mimic trees with large solar panels like leaves or petals, as well as catching power from the wind. Sunlight is piped into some of the buildings and under-regions via fiber optic portals. Cafes and design/fabrication spaces are free and open to everyone, in an abundant collaborative post-capitalist society. Different sorts of robotic steeds, vehicles, and other technology models are designed & 3d printed and tested out, as drones and bots help tend to the orchards and vertical gardens.”

Top Ten: Vu Dang

Top Ten: Vu Dang

“My name is Vu Dang. I’m from Saint Paul, MN. When I heard about this contest, I challenged myself to put together a portrait where each element tells a story about our future, down to the baobabs and tattoo. It was a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoy it.”

Artist portfolio:

Top Ten: Kurt Kohn:

Top Ten: Kurt Kohn

Kurt is 11 years old, in 6th grade and loves the built world and thinking about infrastructure, transportation and urban environments. His portfolio is frankly amazing, and if anyone wants to get in contact with him, here’s at @tylerkohn.

Top Ten: CVRfounder

CVRfounder designed a 3D world — you can move around the view with your mouse to see, but if you have a VR headset like Oculus Quest, you can visit it and stand inside and look around!

Artist portfolio:

Top Ten: Sahand and Polad Saher

Artist portfolios:

Top Ten: Carly A-F

Top Ten: Carly A-F

Artist portfolio:

Top Ten: Dustin Jacobus

Dustin sent us a series of sketches, and here is entire PDF (9.7MB) of the sketches, and a sample of one of them:

Top Ten: Dustin Jacobus

Special Thanks to:

Justine Norton-Kertson, Mark Lutter, Diego Saez-Gil, Anonymous Contributor P, Gaia Dempsey, Ryan Rzepecki, Blakelock Brown, Christian Anderson, Hal Hefner, Artur Piszek, and Andee Liao for contributing to the prize pool. All told, the total value of prizes was $19,000!

Finally, thank you to Diego Saez-Gil, Olya Irzak, and Marc B for assisting in the contest judging!

Honorable Mentions!

Wait, but that’s not all! Since this is my contest and I’m awarding at my sole discretion — there were so many interesting pieces, so I’m going to award another $100 each to the following three honorable mentions:

Honorable Mention: Guglielmo Miccolupi for Commando Jugendstil

Honorable Mention: Guglielmo Miccolupi for Commando Jugendstil

“URGENT DELIVERY depicts the airship ARGO as it flies by the floating forest VITAMIN SEA and delivers an essential cargo of tools and parts the seapeople need to repair their vessel and continue on their journey.”

More here about their concept and process, and their Facebook page.

Honorable Mention: Ava Reynolds

Honorable Mention: Ava Reynolds

“The world sinks into global warming, it conveys that by the large statues up to neck length in the water. But even though the water has risen to such a height the world is still beautiful and good enough to live in (the person in the boat is still living a beautiful life). This new sunken earth has created wondrous things aside from its tragedy, and small bits of plant life and nature have began to know the world too as they grow on the statues. It represents the death of our old ways and the birth of our new ways.”

Honorable Mention: Dulce Paola Gamiño Campos

Honorable Mention: Dulce Paola Gamiño Campos

Artist’s Portfolio:

Participation Awards!

Finally, I have been so inspired by the range and breadth of creativity shown in this contest that I’d like to do something to thank everyone who entered, so I’m going to award $50 to everyone else who entered.

Yes, to all the cranky cynics who just scoffed — this is a participation trophy.

But you know what? Unlike sports, art is not a zero-sum competition. Every piece of art is a contribution to our world, and I am incredibly thankful to all the artists who entered and made this contest what it was! This is my token of appreciation to all of you.

(To the artists: I’ll be sending this out a bit later after I figure out how to successfully send the first set of prizes, just in case PayPal/Venmo gives me trouble for suddenly trying to send thousands of dollars to a dozen random people all over the world, in some cases literally on the other side of the planet. I will contact you soon for your payment info!)


This contest totally exceeded expectations by a country mile. Looking through the entries was absolutely the highlight of my last two weeks. I work a rather stressful day job, and seeing the creative vision of what a better and optimistic future could be, from so many artists from around the world, was a true joy and source of inspiration. I hope it has been for everyone else reading this too — thank you to everyone who contributed.

I’m definitely going to run another contest! Possibly as soon as sometime during the holidays, especially when more people have time to work on their creations.

If you would like to support an upcoming second contest or contribute to the prize pool, feel free to contact me at:

I’ll see you in the future! 🌍



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