A number of people have asked me why I am against art competitions. The short answer is that art isn't about competition. In art competitions, the focus and public discussion is not on the ideas within the works but on who might win and how it might affect the winner's and losers' careers and the future value of their work – they've become a sort of testosterone-fueled Fight Club for artist's bragging rights. Even if artists enter them to increase their 'surface', their recognition, the majority of art competitions barely attract any publicity, let alone critical consideration, so they offer little benefit other than the prize money (which is merely a percentage of the artists' entry fees). Of course, non-artists make a really good living from them: one of the largest art transport companies in Australia earns its most regular bread and butter from artists transporting works to and from competitions. Most competitions are not about helping art and artists. They're scams to promote and support an archaic, poorly funded, gallery-focussed arts industry, which has convinced us (from art school onwards) that entering art competitions is an elemental means to advance an artist's career. I was advised to do it by a commercial gallerist, a long time ago. He said, "The idea is you enter, your work is seen by your peers, curators, and institutions, and if you win, the institution buys your work for a set amount of money [the acquisitive prize]. Once the work is acquired, you can add the institute's name to your CV." Having work in institutional collections is supposed to increase one's sales – and prices. Of course, institutions have their own agenda in terms of what work will fit their collection, what work will be a good investment. These considerations often outweigh the quality of individual works when it comes to divvying up the prize money. Again, this is not about art, it's about portfolio management. And it encourages petty rivalry and politicking instead of qualitative, conceptual discussion.As for publicity, well it primarily promotes the gallery itself rather than the artists entering the competitions.Of course, commercial galleries are never ones to let a good scam pass them by. They've picked up on the usefulness of art competitions (especially youth-oriented ones that make for better PR copy) to redeem or re-invigorate their reputations and their client bases. They sometimes offer a lot of money and promote the blood-sport aspects of the outcome. This works very well in Australia – a sports obsessed nation that loves a prize fight.If you want a lotto-style shot at a traditional career within an archaic, dying system, then I guess entering art competitions is the way to go. But there are better ways for young, smart artists to spend time, effort, money – and creativity.