By Michael Baadke
Artists across the United States are preparing for the next federal duck stamp art contest.
Entries for the annual contest must be submitted by Aug. 15 to be eligible for consideration as the design for the 2018 federal duck stamp, also known as the migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp.
The highly competitive contest is open to any U.S. citizen, national or resident alien age 18 or older, as long as the artist is not a contest judge or a federal duck stamp office employee, or related to one or the other.
The full contest rules can be found online.
Artists this year can choose to paint one of the following five species: mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, blue-winged teal, or harlequin duck.
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All of the submitted artwork will be carefully judged during the federal duck stamp contest taking place Sept. 15-16 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where it is being hosted by the College of Natural Resources and the College of Fine Arts and Communications.
“A panel of five noted art, waterfowl and stamp authorities judges each competition,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sponsors the annual competition.
“Judges evaluate entries based on accuracy of the waterfowl and habitat, composition, and suitability to be made into a [1¾-inch by 1½-inch] stamp.
“No entries are judged prior to the start of the contest; any piece of art that meets the size criteria and contains an identifiable, live depiction of one of the eligible species will be judged.”
The service also notes that in addition to the contest judging, visitors can enjoy events such as a decoy carving contest, educational hunting, and outdoor activities, and more.
Last year’s federal contest was won for the fifth time by James Hautman of Chaska, Minn., with an acrylic painting of three Canada geese in flight. The painting was then prepared as the central design for the 2017 $25 federal duck stamp issued June 23 (Linn’s, June 26, page 10).
While the only material prize the winning artist receives is a pane of the issued duck stamps signed by the Secretary of the Interior, winning the contest can result in a financial boon for the person whose artwork takes home the top honors.
There is a potentially lucrative market for prints and related products featuring the winning design, and the artist is granted permission to market the winning image and any other works as “by the Federal Duck Stamp artist.”
Waterfowl hunters are required to obtain the federal duck stamp as an annual license, but the stamps are also purchased by stamp hobbyists and outdoor enthusiasts.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, for every dollar spent on federal duck stamps, 98¢ goes toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Although not valid for postage, the federal duck stamp is a popular collectible.
The stamps are illustrated and listed as “hunting permit stamps” in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers and in Vol. 1 of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue.