2018 Hugo Finalists: Best Professional Artist

Today I’m looking at the six finalists for Best Professional Artist in the 2018 Hugo Awards.  I’ve linked their websites and some examples of their work.


Galen Dara has been a finalist in this category three times.  She was also the winner of Best Fan Artist in 2013.  I nominated Dara in this category last year, but this year the work I liked best from her appeared in semiprozines which is actually considered fan art under Hugo rules.


Bastien Lecouffe Deharme undoubtedly came to many people’s attention due to some controversial remarks made by Terry Goodkind.  This is his first time as a Hugo Finalist.


Kathleen Jennings has won several Ditmar Awards, but this is her first time as a Hugo Finalist.  She often does cut-paper silhouettes as well as pen and ink drawings.


Victo Ngai was my only nominee who made the final ballot in this category.  This is her second time as a Hugo Finalist.


John Picacio has twelve nominations and two previous wins in this category.   He was also a finalist for Best Related Book in 2007.  He is the Artist Guest of Honor at Worldcon 76 and will host the 2018 Hugo Awards Ceremony.


Sana Takeda is the artist for last year’s Hugo Award winning Monstress comic.  The second volume is a finalist for Best Graphic Story this year.  This is her second time as a finalist in this category as well.  I nominated her for pro artist last year, but this year I stuck with just nominating Monstress.


We have four repeat artists from last year and two first-time finalists.  Ranking them is extremely difficult due to their wonderfully unique styles.  My favorites are the ones I’ve nominated previously.  Followed by Kathleen Jennings whose classic work I find fascinating.  Bastien Lecouffe Deharme’s pieces are stunning, but they’re not really my taste.  Finally, as impressive as John Picacio’s art always is, I feel like he’s had enough Hugo recognition already.  So here’s how my ballot looks:

  1. Sana Takeda
  2. Victo Ngai
  3. Galen Dara
  4. Kathleen Jennings
  5. Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
  6. John Picacio

What are your thoughts on the pro artist finalists?

2018 Hugo Awards: Artist Categories

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:

Here are some other artists from my long list with examples from 2017:


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:

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:


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?