The Challenge:

Make a work of art using ONLY the materials in a Mystery Build Kit. Document your creative process and submit images and/or video of your project before October 20, 2015.

The Twist:

We can't tell you what's in the kit! Everyone gets the same materials and faces the same limitations. You can expect to find some common art materials like wood, clay, metal, fiber, and plenty of surprises!

The Payoff:

Because you can't live on creativity alone, judges and voters will select the winners of cash awards! As more people participate, the prize pool grows and more people get paid. Over $50,000 has been awarded since 2011!


What can YOU make with a Mystery Build kit?


  • Team Time by Sarah Hatman, 2012
  • Hugo and the Mystery Clock by Leslie Stancil, 2012
  • The Great Magical Car by Amy Hughes, 2012

Mystery Builders are innovators, drawing on the challenge we all face everyday - using limited resources to create something extraordinary. They buy a box of materials that to the average person don't seem to fit together. There are no instructions, just a few rules to make things interesting. In the hands of these creators, who come from every walk of life throughout the country, the ordinary and diverse items in the kit are transformed into something remarkable.

Mystery Builders have created some extraordinary projects. Check out our Art Project Gallery to see all the entries from our past contests. Visit our Hall of Fame to see past Mystery Build Art Contest winners.

Work individually or as a team, and create as many projects as you want, using multiple kits.


What You Get

You get an engaging experience that opens you up to new materials, techniques, and ways of thinking. As you find unexpected solutions and creative alternatives, you'll get an artistic workout and discover new talents and abilities. The kit includes all the materials you need to complete your project and compete for prizes, and it’s ridiculously fun.

Tips and Support

We want you to get the most out of your experience and make the best project you can. When you buy a Mystery Build Kit you get access to our tips and tricks page full of fun ideas, instructions and information on your materials. You can reach out to us anytime by email. We can answer questions on techniques or tools, offer guidance and advice, or help with anything else you need.

Creative Motivation

The true reward is in the creative experience, but a little cash doesn't hurt either. Each year an independent panel of judges and public voters select the winners of cash prizes. Since 2011 we've awarded over $50,000 in prize money to creative people across the country. What can you make with a Mystery Build kit? How about some cash?


What People Are Saying

"After 28 years of all kinds of professional illustration work, this contest came like a breath of fresh air to my creative soul. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge presented with the kit. It reminded me of the joy of creativity in it's essence. It also empowered me in everyday life to be more creative in anything I am doing. Thanks very much...I salute you (with my paint brush) ! "
-Rich Davis

"I am very happy with what I created and can't wait to see what I come up with for the next competition! I encourage everyone to give Mystery Build a try, especially those who may be intimidated by the challenge, it's just what you need to jump-start your creativity. The chance to win prizes is wonderful, but the process and what you can learn from it is a prize in itself."
-Jason Reid

"As a 2D artist who works very flat and smooth, the sight of ***** and **** was at first alarming. Once I settled on my direction, I became so engaged with it that I went on to start a series of 3D pieces. I took them to a show in Houston to try them out. They got all the attention and were gone by the second day. 'Thinking outside the box' by taking the Mystery Build challenge has inspired me to look in a whole new direction."
- Carol Joy Shannon

"I like the idea of competing against other creators, knowing that the playing field was level, as we all had the same materials and guidelines to follow. The whole time I felt like a kid playing, trying to use materials that at first glance have no business being together. It really was a fun experience and I would highly recommend anyone, artist or not, to try it out."
- Pete Sack


About Us - Contact Info

The Mystery Build Art Contest was created by two professional artists as a way to inspire creative thinking and artistic exploration. Find out who we are and why we do what we do.


Sign Up for a Kit

Sign up for our next contest and we'll reserve you a kit, or kits. When the kits are ready to ship we'll contact you to complete your order.

Reserve a Mystery Build kit...


Use this form to anonymously tell us what you really think! Are we doing something wrong, or anything right? Do you have ideas or suggestions? Let us know, your comments mean a lot to us.

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Gift Ideas For Artists

If you're looking for a creative gift for the artist you know, check out these cool ideas from our friends over at Thingamagift. They have lots of fun ideas that will boost creativity and encourage artistic experimentation.

Check out these cool gifts for artists

Just For Fun...

Micro-sculptor Willard Wigan creates artwork so small that he once inhaled one by accident. His sculptures will run you about $40,000. Here's one in the eye of a needle.

Read more interesting facts about artists!

Artistic Inspiration

Quickly browse through 35,000 years of art history highlights, from cave paintings to modern day sculptures.

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Famous artists and artwork...