Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Hugo nominations closed yesterday, but I’ll continue with my thoughts on the remaining categories.
There has been some sort of Best Artist category since the beginning of the Hugos. Although in the initial year of 1953, both Interior Illustrator and Cover Artist awards were given. During the 1990’s, awards were also given for Best Original Artwork.
Best Professional Artist:
An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during 2017.
I try to keep track of impressive artwork I come across in my reading during the year, but Rocket Stack Rank’s page for 2018 Professional Artists was a big help in jogging my memory. Here are my choices with links to their websites and the example I included on my ballot:
- Marcela Bolívar – Cover for Apex Magazine, Issue 96
- Micah Epstein – Illustration for “Angel of the Blockade” by Alex Wells
- Miranda Meeks – Illustration for “Sweetlings” by Lucy Taylor
- Peter Mohrbacher – Cover for Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 135
- Victo Ngai – Illustration for “Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang
Here are some other artists from my long list with examples from 2017:
- Richard Anderson – Cover for Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames
- Tommy Arnold – Cover for Killing Gravity by Corey J. White
- Clarrisa Ferguson – Cover for Apex Magazine, Issue 103
- Jon Foster – Illustration for “Bourbon, Sugar, Grace” by Jessica Reisman
- Maurizio Manzieri – Cover for Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2017
- Eddie Mendoza – Cover for Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 127
- Greg Ruth – Cover for Lightning in the Blood by Marie Brennan
- Yuko Shimizu – Cover for The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
- Sam Weber – Illustration for “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw
Since 1967, there has also been an award for Best Fan Artist:
An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through publication in fanzines, semiprozines, or through any other public non-professional display (including at conventions) during 2017.
For this category, I already had one artist in mind, I found two more at the Hugo Award Eligible Art(ists) tumblr, and another two at the Hugo Nominees 2018 Wiki. Here are my picks with some of my favorite examples of their work:
- Geneva Benton – Covers for FIYAH Literary Magazine, 2017 Issues
- Holepsi (Diana) – Fan art for Star Wars and Stranger Things
- Matt Olson – Artwork for the SFF180 YouTube channel
- Laya Rose – Fan art of Bill Potts from Doctor Who
- shalizeh (Jane) – Fan art for Star Wars and Moana
There were a few artists whose work I liked from 2017 technically puts them in this category because it was published in semiprozines. But for the most part, I decided to relegate this less “fannish” work to my long list:
- Galen Dara – Illustration for “These Constellations Will Be Yours” by Elaine Cuyegkeng
- Julie Dillon – Cover for Uncanny Magazine, Issue 19
- Kirbi Fagan – Cover for Uncanny Magazine, Issue 17
- Odera Igbokwe – Illustration for “Oshun, Inc.” by Jordan Ifueko
- Sarah Webb – Illustration for “As Tender Feet of Cretan Girls Danced Once Around an Altar of Love” by Julian K. Jarboe
The Hugo Awards Study Committee formed at last year’s Business Meeting was actually expanded from an initial resolution for a committee to look at the artist categories. The Hugo Administrator Decisions Report, available as a PDF from the 2017 Hugo Awards page, clearly shows that voters are struggling with the definitions of these awards. Four artists (two in each category) who qualified for the final ballot were ruled ineligible. Two artists (one in each category) who made the final ballot nearly qualified as finalists in the other category.
One issue is that the pro category specifies illustrator, thereby excluding the sculptor who would otherwise have made the ballot last year. Whereas, the fan category allows other types of artists. Indeed, five-time finalist Spring Schoenhuth creates SFF-related jewelry. I think we need to be consistent in the type of art allowed across both categories.
However, another problem is defining what is considered professional versus fan art. I think work for semiprozines is for all intents and purposes professional. In fact, I’d like to get rid of the weird semiprozine beast altogether and open that category to any magazine that’s not a fanzine.
Another way to go would be honoring specific individual works instead of the artists themselves. Although I believe that the former Best Original Artwork category was discontinued for lack of voter participation.
[3/23/2018 ETA: In a comment over at File 770, someone mentioned that they consider cover art (and interior illustration) for the pro artist category and all other sff-related art for the fan artist category regardless of the artists’ pro or fan status. And someone else responded that they felt that was the actual intention for the categories. That works for me, but they’d need to adjust the titles and definitions to make it clear.]
Who are your favorite artists? And how do you think these categories should be defined?