I personally am very selective about the art competitions that I choose to enter. In my earlier years I used to enter just about anything, simply because the prizes were so enticing. All competitions have a fee associated with entry, so do your homework, make sure you know whether the prize is for you, and make sure the fee is not beyond your budget. Also, be aware that usually the artist is paying for freight costs back and forth for these competitions.
Read through the entry form and conditions thoroughly and ask around to see if the particular prize is reputable and recognized.
If the prize is an international one, check the details very clearly. Many young artists have fallen prey to paying large fees and attending exhibitions and competitions internationally because of the perceived boost for their career and recognition, only to later discover that the particular exhibition was not what they expected.
I always recommend to artists when they enquire about entering prizes that depending upon the overall cost involved and whether they can afford it, that basically they’ve got nothing to lose. Often I find that many artists are intimidated by simply the name of a particular prize or competition, believing that it is way out of their league. It’s important to remember that this is just a belief and can be seen as a hurdle, which is simply got a jump across. Once a person can shift their awareness about this and actually go ahead and enter one of these major competitions, with the belief that it’s not just an “inner club” which is all political.