Defining “Public Display” in the Best Fan Artist Hugo Category

[Editor’s Note: Third in a series. Dublin 2019 has posted the 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda (July 25 update) [PDF file] containing all the business submitted by the July 17 deadline. File 770 will post about some of the proposals and invite discussion.]

2019 Best Fan Artist nominee Ariela Housman, and Terri Ash, respectively the artist and manager of Geek Calligraphy, didn’t like the feedback they got from the Hugo Administrators about their submissions to the Hugo Voter Packet. Their solution is a rules change proposal that radically redefines the Best Fan Artist’s “public display” requirement.


Proposed by:

Terri Ash & Ariela Housman

Commentary:

Public Display includes: art shows (SF/F convention or otherwise), Internet posts (including but not limited to: personal blog posts, twitter posts, tumblr posts, Facebook, someone else’s blog, etc), Etsy shops, print on demand shops (TeePublic, RedBubble, Threadless, etc), dealer tables, Artist Alley displays, the art hanging in a cafe somewhere, magazines, fanzines, online advertisements. Basically, if it exists in a way that doesn’t require you to pay to see the image in full resolution (not counting a watermark), it’s public.


Back in April, Ariela Housman’s Geek Calligraphy blog post “Hugo Eligibility Revisited” explained the grievance that is at the root of this proposal:

Voting will begin soon, and when the voter packet is distributed, you’ll see two of our pieces in there…

But where did “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” go?

So, funny story about that.

When we published our eligibility post in December, we included the above two works, plus “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” based on The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. The former two were created earlier in 2018 and shown in art shows at Confluence and ICON. We finished “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” late enough in the year that we didn’t have any more art shows booked in which we could show it. We put it all over the interwebs, though.

This is what the Hugo Awards Website gives as the criteria for the Best Fan Artist category (bolding ours):

The final category is also for people. Again note that the work by which artists should be judged is not limited to material published in fanzines. Material for semiprozines or material on public displays (such as in convention art shows) is also eligible. Fan artists can have work published in professional publications as well. You should not consider such professionally-published works when judging this award.

The internet is about as public as it gets, right? It was even included in Mary Robinette’s Pinterest Gallery for Lady Astronaut Fan Art.

Even I was surprised by the next development:

Apparently the Hugo Committee disagrees. Per the email I received from the committee member who contacted me prior to the announcement of the ballot:

The first two pieces clearly qualify, so that is fine. I’m afraid that the rules exclude pieces that have only been displayed online.

This, dear reader, is ridiculous.

Although the title of their rules proposal refers to “categories,” and it’s clear from the same blog post they were calling for people to support them “Because it is time and past to overhaul the Pro Artist / Fan Artist categories” – no corresponding proposal about the Pro Artist category is on the agenda.  

We have blogged before about why we think that restricting the Professional Artist category to “professional publications” is outdated in an age when it is possible to make most if not all of one’s artistic income from online sales directly to customers. But there’s something extra odd and gatekeeper-y in telling a fan that their fan work doesn’t count until someone else – a zine or an art show head – gives it their stamp of approval.

(Also, art shows cost money to enter, adding an economic barrier-to-entry that I find particularly distasteful.)

If authors who publish online are real authors, then artists who post their work online are real artists.

If fan writers who write online are real fans, the artists who art online are real fans, too.

For Housman and Ash it’s all about a simple and direct effort to overturn an injustice – if you can see it online without paying, they feel that’s as much of a “public display” as an art show.  There’s nothing wrong with that logic.

However, the rule as drafted will have other effects.

It will write into the black-letter rules that work shown online to advertise works which can be purchased – Housman’s calligraphy is just one item in that universe – is fan art.

And remarkably, the authors of this motion don’t even want to be locked into this category, as noted in a June blog post (“Asking Permission vs. Begging Forgiveness”)

Oddly enough, this is one of the reasons I’m working on a proposal to the WSFS Business committee about the art categories. I don’t think what we do is fan art. Even when the art is based from something we didn’t invent in our heads, it’s work produced for sale.

People at the Dublin 2019 business meeting need to look down the road and decide if free views of product offered for sale is the kind of thing they want this category to reward. If not, they shouldn’t vote for this proposal. If yes, then maybe all the category needs a new title that will correctly label the work it’s recognizing, which will encompass a whole realm of commercial art.

67 thoughts on “Defining “Public Display” in the Best Fan Artist Hugo Category

  1. Camestros Felapton: Every time anyone tries to carve that turkey, all we get are screams about gatekeeping.

    If people think the Fan Artist category works now, they shouldn’t adopt this change. (Whether that position can be defended isn’t clear, because of how the administrators classified Housman and Ash’s packet submissions.)

    If they think it needs to be fixed this way, then let’s admit the category doesn’t do the same work anymore, and call it something that properly labels that work.

  2. I don’t agree with this proposal, because the Pro and Fan Artist categories need to be fully reworked, and this is just a band-aid with unintended consequences.

    The WSFS members opted not to proceed with the Hugo Category Committee’s recommendation last year and instead turfed it off to a subcommittee this year which, according to the agenda posted on Dublin 2019’s website, did absolutely nothing. 😐

    On the other hand, the Hugo Admin’s decision to exclude one of Houseman’s works from the Hugo Voter Packet was absolutely out of line for the spurious reason given — especially given the multitude of other works which were included in the packet which are very clearly and unambiguously ineligible; the hypocrisy of that decision is staggering. 🙄

  3. Mike Glyer on July 26, 2019 at 4:49 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: Every time anyone tries to carve that turkey, all we get are screams about gatekeeping.

    True and not unreasonably in some cases

  4. I’d support a variation of this proposal where art works are eligible if they are made permanently available free for non-commercial use. The idea is to recognize contributions to fandom’s maker culture. This does not preclude commercial use; works may be dual-licensed. Also, there need not be any rules about resolution. If the artist makes free versions of their work available, they definitely qualify as a fan artist. The Hugo voters can decide if they are a “best” fan artist.

  5. I find this year’s Administrator’s decision mystifying myself. I do not think I would have made the decision that way were it mine to make this year.

  6. Ok, I’m confused. The proposal still clearly says “other public, non-professional display”. (Emphasis mine.) So how does it “write into the black-letter rules that work shown online to advertise works which can be purchased […] is fan art”? If it’s advertising, then surely it qualifies as professional work?

  7. The pattern “A, including X, Y, and Z” would be taken as extending the definition of A to include Z, even if it would otherwise not contain it.

  8. The problem here appears (IMHO) That we are trying to give two awards when there are three types of published work.

    Professional Art appears in professional publications.

    Fan Art appears in amateur Fan publications or activities like fanzines, con publications or art shows.

    Online Art appears on artists’ sites which may be seen either as fan art on one side or as professional promotion for the artist themselves on the other. It can also appear on sites which allow people to buy prints. Again because the art is free to view online some people think it is fan art but because you can buy prints some people think it is professional.

    Personally I think sites which sell prints are professional publications. Art displayed on an artist’s web site is more difficult to categorize. Being officious about keeping it out of the fan category probably does more harm than good but it does seem unfair that artists who actively support fan activities will tend to be pushed out of an award originally intended for them.

  9. My take on this is that the real issue is trying to define the difference between Fan and Pro art by the venue in which it appears. Under the current definition anyone who gets a picture printed on the letter pages of a pro magazine has produced a piece of pro art and paid for art in a semi-prozine is fan art, which is clearly not the intention.
    I think the dividing line should be whether the artist has received, or will receive, payment for the piece. Where it appeared should only be relevant to eligibility for the year in question.

  10. Stuart Hall: I’m also concerned that the rules change creates a reductio-ad-absurdum argument where anybody who does a cover reveal of the art for their forthcoming novel will render that work eligible for the fan artist Hugo. The proposal stresses full resolution, so I’m not worried about Amazon thumbnail book covers. And I’m thinking here of full resolution in terms of the cover art you get with an ebook — it’s possible that printed covers have a higher standard.

  11. I think several things are contributing to the problem, which is why the problem is so difficult to solve: whether simply getting paid for an art piece makes one a professional under the rules, what venues should qualify in which category; should Fan Artist be restricted to people who donate their art work for free to fan organizations like a convention, a semiprozine or fanzine and thereby support fandom.

    That last was an argument I heard strongly put forth during last year’s Business Meeting, but I think that only longtime convention organizers or fanzine publishers have that idea. Most of the people I interact with in fandom do not think of the Fan Art category that way at all.

    To my mind the problem starts with the definition of Professional Artist: “3.3.12: Best Professional Artist. An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during the previous calendar year.”

    That definition eliminates anyone selling their work from their website unless they also meet the definition of Professional Publication: “3.2.11: A Professional Publication is one which meets at least one of the following two criteria: (1) it provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or, (2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner.”

    Many artists probably don’t make a quarter of their income from selling prints from their own website. But they are being excluded from the Fan Category because they sell their work, or they display it online, so they’re being screwed. And how does the Deviant Art website fit into that definition? The website probably does qualify as a professional publication under the rules as currently worded but many of the artists appear to be students, fans, or hobbyists.

    There’s another problem which I’ve encountered but is probably more minor. Some artists I’ve contacted for permission to nominate them for Best Fan Artist asked me not to do so because they thought it would hurt their efforts to transition to professional, not just within the Hugo community but also outside it in the mainstream.

    I wonder if the way forward is to change the wording of both categories to something like: Best Artworks, Professional Venue and Best Artworks, Non-Professional Venue.

  12. Martin Easterbrook on July 27, 2019 at 7:49 am said:

    Fan Art appears in amateur Fan publications or activities like fanzines, con publications or art shows.

    Martin, that was the opinion of several people at the Business Meeting at San Jose–that Fan art must appear in fan publications or at cons.

    That definition of Fan art leaves out the ginormous amount of un-paid art being produced on line and in other forums by SFF fans about SFF. And many people at the Business Meeting in San Jose felt this sort of Fan art should be included in the definition (including me).

    And then there’s the art of Fandom that’s happening by people who have Kickstarters, Go Fund Mes, and Patreon accounts. Where is the line drawn with that? Not to mention Pro Artists also producing Fannish works. (And occasionally Fan Artists producing Professional works.)

    That was why the BM appointed Dave McCarty to head a committee to thrash all that out. I am, to put it mildly, disappointed that didn’t happen.

    I would like to see someone else appointed to head up a committee to re-define the Fan and Pro Artist categories. Actually, I’d like it to be addressed by the Hugo Award Committee we already have, which is doing work and actually producing reports. I’d like Fan and Pro Artists who have a stake in this to be involved.

    In the mean time, having the BM explicitly state that Fan art produced solely on line qualifies is an acceptable stop gap to me. I feel the Administrators’ decision regarding “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” was misguided. I have a lot of respect for Nicholas and Sanna. I liked the report we got after Helsinki and devoutly hope we’ll get another one like it this year. But that decision was head-scratchingly odd. I want the BM to be clear that it ought not to be repeated, until we get a chance to properly look at the Artist categories and redefine them.

  13. @Martin Easterbrook: I’ll go further than ULTRAGOTHA: I think you are falsely conflating two different axes into a single spectrum. Short form: if online operations can be fanzines, why can online displays-for-free not be fan art? This is its own oversimplification, but I think it’s a fairer definition than your claim that “fan art” must be an ancillary to a fannish publication, rather than standing on its own.

  14. The section on this subject from last year’s Hugo Award Study Committee Report is probably helpful to the discussion.

    It’s a couple of pages long, so I won’t re-copy the entire section here, but here are some key parts:

    • Hugo voters want to recognize artists who create speculative art which mirrors, complements, and inspires the stories we read and watch.

    • Hugo voters want to recognize artists who make special charitable contributions of art for the furtherance of fannish activities such as fanzines and conventions.

    • Hugo voters have decided that these are two distinct forms of art, and have created two categories to recognize those forms of art.

    • These two artist categories are not mutually exclusive, and it is possible for one artist to be eligible for both Professional and Fan categories in any given year.

    • No attempt will be made to define “professional artist” as opposed to “non-professional artist”. If works do not meet the eligibility requirements for Fan Art, then they are considered to be Professional Art.

    • Eligible work includes art in physical or digital form, including illustration, painting, book and magazine covers, photography, three-dimensional work such as sculpture, jewelry, mixed media work, and costumes, and other visual artwork such as website graphics, animated gifs, and game art.

    • “Public display” includes art shows, dealer tables, panel presentations, other convention display, websites, and any other type of display that is generally available to the public.

    • “Without direct compensation” means that the artist has not been compensated for the art in question, but does not disqualify them on the basis of compensation otherwise received (such as a discounted or free membership at the convention given on the basis of having served on multiple panels in line with standard policy for that convention).

    • Artwork which has been “given for free to one or more non-commercial publications” includes artwork which has been made freely available for use via a Creative Commons (or similar) license.

  15. @ULTRAGOTHA
    @Chip Hitchcock

    I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m trying to list what pretty much everybody agreed is Fan art or professional art and then trying to list the sorts of art display that we are not agreed on. I’m personally still undecided where the various sorts of online art should go in the Hugo categories. My opinions on Tuesdays differ from those I have on Thursdays.

  16. Definitely feel that the Lady Astronaut piece should have been allowed in the packet. Undecided on the proposal.

  17. David Shallcross on July 27, 2019 at 4:39 am said:

    The pattern “A, including X, Y, and Z” would be taken as extending the definition of A to include Z, even if it would otherwise not contain it.

    By that logic, the current definition is declaring anything displayed at a convention as fan-art–even though the art show often contains paintings by professional artists which were used as book covers! I don’t think anyone has ever interpreted it that way–nor would I expect them to do so! 🙂

    “Public, non-professional display (including [list of display methods])” does not magically make the words “public” and “non-professional” irrelevant. Whatever the type of display, if it’s not public and non-professional, it’s not going to qualify.

    So, again, I ask, how does this “write into the black-letter rules that work shown online to advertise works which can be purchased […] is fan art”? We all, somehow, manage to understand that works shown at a convention to advertise works which can be purchased are not fan art. Why do we read it differently if the magic phrase “on-line” is substituted for “at conventions”?

    (Or, conversely, if work shown at a convention to advertise &c. is fan art, why should work shown on-line have a different rule? Consistency, please, folks!)

  18. Xtifr: You speak of something “we all, somehow, manage to understand” as if it was an objective reality. It’s a cultural perception, an agreed upon story, like the idea of money discussed in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. And in fact there are already people who want their commercial work to compete for fan artist Hugos — the authors of the rules proposal. But the Hugo Administrator wouldn’t let them put everything THEY thought was fan art in the Hugo Voter Packet. That decision may not make sense to me but what could be clearer evidence that this is not an area controlled by things “we all, somehow, manage to understand”. It may only be that people like us who have been around fandom for decades are conditioned to see the issue in a way that used to be consensus but now…?

  19. Mike: Hmm, ok, that seems like a fair point. The current definition may not be as clear as I have been assuming. Nevertheless, the actual proposal before us seems completely orthogonal to that whole issue!

    If they had brought their advertisement to a convention (any convention) and set it up in the lobby, would that suddenly make it fan art when it wasn’t before? If so, that seems like a loophole you could drive a truck through, and if not, why would adding “on-line” to the list of potential display methods change anything?

  20. I think the problem goes back again to that who is a “fan”. Are we talking “fan” or that diffuse “Fan”?

    I do not dare to stick my head into the wasp nest of history, but when I think of the fan artist category, what I myself would like to give the award to is:

    Someone who in some way is connected to a Fandom.
    Someone who contributes and/or volunteers to the Fandom in some way, without asking for payment.
    Someone who might sell art, but only gets a marginal income from it.
    It doesn’t matter much where the art is displayed.

    I.e, I want a fan artist to be someone that contributes to Fandom without asking for payment. To have some connection and care about Fandom. That is what I care about. But I do not care if their art is first displayed in a traditional fandom arena.

    However, having such a writing in the rules would smash another wasp nest open with regards to who is counted as a fan or not, so I do not really want it in the rules. I’m using it as personal head canon and am satisfied with that.

  21. Hampus Eckerman: having such a writing in the rules would smash another wasp nest open with regards to who is counted as a fan or not

    The Fan Artist and Fan Writer categories have never been about deciding whether a given person is a fan. They have always been about recognizing work done by fans which has been done out of love as a gift to other fans, rather than done for pay (which is Pro Art and Pro Writing).

    But in recent years, with an influx of newer fans who don’t have that historical perspective and think that it just means any work done by a fan, these categories have become really contentious. And I think the only way to fix that is for the WSFS members to come up with better definitions of what sort of works qualify in these categories.

    If they aren’t able to come up with better defintions, then the categories should just be cancelled. Because after the Best Fan Writer Hugo Award was given to someone last year for Professional Writing, these categories have really ceased to have any meaningful definition.

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  23. I think this is the kind of problem that cannot be solved until people broadly accept the fact that sometimes gatekeeping is necessary. The focus should be on how to arrange the gatekeeping so that it’s fair and logical. Attempting to eliminate it entirely just results in a big, amorphous mess. See Kindle Unlimited for another example.

  24. @Greg: You might be missing an important nuance to the meaning of ‘gatekeeping.’ To my mind, it is very different from trying to define something clearly enough to make a category specific. Gatekeeping is a hostile act, meant to make people feel unwanted. For instance, when I was a young woman I showed up at a rather small fannish event. I was immediately surrounded by 3-5 young men, none of whom smiled, greeted me or made any effort to be welcoming. Instead they demanded to know my name, my reasons for being there, what my fannish interests were and proceeded to lob trivia questions at me regarding those interests.

    My advice is that unless you really are advocating for that kind of behavior you should probably choose a less incendiary word.

  25. Would it be safer then to ask not “who is a fan” but “what is a fanzine”? Can ‘fanzine’ be defined broadly enough to encompass the range of places that now exits that Fan Artist and Fan Writer can drop the extra provisos and just talk about work that is available in semi-prozines and fanzines?

  26. JJ:

    The Fan Artist and Fan Writer categories … have always been about recognizing work done by fans which has been done out of love as a gift to other fans, rather than done for pay (which is Pro Art and Pro Writing).

    I’m interested in what you’ve said because I’ve never seen the same focus on giving away labor for free in the Fan Writing category as I have for Fan Artist. Fan Writing has always been a labor of love, yes. But the kind of Fan Writing in blogs, for instance, seems more like someone having opinions on something they love and wanting to express them/start a discussion. There’s labor involved, yes, and an element of giving something valuable to the fan community, yes. But as far as I know, we don’t exclude them if there’s a donation button or link to a Patreon on the page.

    And when it comes to Fanzines, in the paper days there was usually a subscription component. And I don’t think that anyone can argue that running a Fanzine (online or on paper) isn’t done out of love as a gift to fans. It seems to me, we are being harder on the pay component for Fan Artists than we are to other Fan categories. And we are certainly being harder to Fan Artists in regard to venue (personal website vs. fanzine) than we are in the other Fan categories.

    Displaying one’s art on a personal website is making it ‘generally available for free.’ Even if there is a possibility of purchasing a copy of it, it’s still generally available for free.

    And if we have to start considering whether that is advertising, then all Fan Artists are in trouble. An argument can be made that the piece displayed at an art show is an advertisement for the artist’s work available for purchase. I don’t make that argument, mind you. But it seems to me we are being very nit-picky when it comes to art but not when it comes to other fan awards.

  27. @Camestros: To my mind the category already defines it broadly enough to encompass that. It’s the narrow interpretation brought in by some administrators that’s the problem. But I agree that the wording ought to be changed to make it more clear. Perhaps using the wording ‘generally available for free’ or ‘generally available in a non-professional publication’ or ‘in generally available electronic media’ (the latter two phrases currently in use in other Fan categories) should be considered.

    Of course that doesn’t solve the problem that many people want to exclude anything not donated to a convention or to established semiprozines and fanzines, which I think is at the heart of this dispute.

  28. Greg Hullender on July 28, 2019 at 8:40 am said:

    I think this is the kind of problem that cannot be solved until people broadly accept the fact that sometimes gatekeeping is necessary.

    Circular reasoning. First you have to establish that sometimes gatekeeping (or whatever you want to call it) actually is necessary. Until you do that, you can’t demand that people accept “the fact”.

    This is not about older fans vs new, clueless fans. I grew up in fandom, attended my first Worldcon in the sixties, helped collate Locus back when it was still hand-collated… I think I’m pretty solidly in the older fan category, and so far, I’ve heard nothing that makes me think this proposal or the idea behind it is a bad idea.

    (Granted, I’ve also been butting heads with the more conservative, “old-school” wing of fandom for…pretty much my whole life. But that’s a separate issue. Last Fandom Rules!)

    The only issue I have with what’s been discussed is that I don’t think advertising should qualify as fan art even if it can be viewed for free. But I don’t see how that would fall out of this proposal. Even though I’ve asked–three times now–for this bizarre claim to be justified. Anyone? Bueller?

  29. Here’s another thought: Allowing people who aren’t part of “true” fandom (whatever the hell that might be) to be nominated may help lure some of them into joining, when they discover that fandom has a thriving art community, an enthusiastic audience for their art, and room for them to display and even possibly sell some of that art.

  30. @Lorien Grey

    I’m interested in what you’ve said because I’ve never seen the same focus on giving away labor for free in the Fan Writing category as I have for Fan Artist. Fan Writing has always been a labor of love, yes. But the kind of Fan Writing in blogs, for instance, seems more like someone having opinions on something they love and wanting to express them/start a discussion. There’s labor involved, yes, and an element of giving something valuable to the fan community, yes. But as far as I know, we don’t exclude them if there’s a donation button or link to a Patreon on the page.

    You clearly missed the debate that some fan writer finalists in recent years have been publishing their writing almost exclusively in paid venues like semiprozines or prozines, which is not what the fan writer Hugo was traditionally supposed to honour.

    I don’t think anybody has a problem with tip jars, Ko-Fis, Patreons, etc… But we do need clearer definitions of what is and isn’t fan writing and fan art.

  31. Lorien Gray: an important nuance to the meaning of ‘gatekeeping.’ To my mind, it is very different from trying to define something clearly enough to make a category specific. Gatekeeping is a hostile act, meant to make people feel unwanted.

    Exactly. The Hugo categories are set up the way they are because the WSFS members wanted to recognize specific things. That’s not “gatekeeping”, that’s them deciding that recognition of some things was a priority for them and recognition of other things was not.

  32. Xtifr: The only issue I have with what’s been discussed is that I don’t think advertising should qualify as fan art even if it can be viewed for free. But I don’t see how that would fall out of this proposal. Even though I’ve asked–three times now–for this bizarre claim to be justified. Anyone? Bueller?

    The Commentary on the proposal itself, written by the proposers, says that advertisements would be eligible. That’s part of their intent.

  33. @JJ: Ah, thanks. So it does. But the proposal itself doesn’t say anything about that. So…hrm, I dunno. Advertisements are definitely not “fan art” by any reasonable definition. It would be like giving a fan writing award to the person who writes the blurbs for the backs of books. 🙂

    In fact, I’m pretty sure advertisements are already eligible to be qualifying works in the pro category! Which would seem to trump whatever they might claim their intent is…

    But yeah, the whole thing is a bit of a mess and definitely needs clarification.

  34. Lorien Gray: I’ve never seen the same focus on giving away labor for free in the Fan Writing category as I have for Fan Artist. Fan Writing has always been a labor of love, yes. But the kind of Fan Writing in blogs, for instance, seems more like someone having opinions on something they love and wanting to express them/start a discussion. There’s labor involved, yes, and an element of giving something valuable to the fan community, yes. But as far as I know, we don’t exclude them if there’s a donation button or link to a Patreon on the page.

    As I said on Camestros’ blog, I regard Patreon and Ko-fi accounts as the equivalent of busking.

    Would you consider someone who is busking to be a professional performer? I would not. They might get $5 one day, no money another day, and $1 the next day. They are not performing for hire, the way a concert musician is, or the way that a freelance or staff writer who’s being paid the going rate is producing for hire. They are out in the street doing something they love to do, and occasionally a passerby may throw a dollar or two in the hat for them in appreciation.

    Articles on Tor.com are available to read by anyone, but they are not “given away for free”. Tor gets eyes on their website due to those articles, and purchases of their books due to those articles. Those “free” articles are big revenue and buzz generators for their products. It is completely a professional operation, one in which their paid writers are participating. I don’t begrudge those writers being paid for that work, not a bit. I wish them much success, and I hope that they’re making a living at it.

    That doesn’t mean that they’re entitled to access to Hugo Award nominations for it.

    And I think that paid art and paid writing done for Semiprozines shouldn’t be eligible, either. Right now, that eligibility is part of an intertwined problem with the Semiprozine category. One of this year’s “Fan Writer” finalists has produced very little actual fan writing. Of the 3 pieces in their voter packet, all of them are paid writing — one from a pro venue, and one which is behind a paywall. That’s not Fan Writing. (And yes, I No-Awarded them, because although the quality of the pieces is unquestionable, they’re not Fan Writing.)

    It’s being proposed that the category be changed to Best Magazine now that the internet has mostly leveled the playing field between pro and semipro magazines, and I expect that change to be made in the next couple of years, which will fix the Fan Writer and Fan Artist problem associated with it.

    As Cora says, “I don’t think anybody has a problem with tip jars, Ko-Fis, Patreons, etc… But we do need clearer definitions of what is and isn’t fan writing and fan art.”

  35. Xtifr: In fact, I’m pretty sure advertisements are already eligible to be qualifying works in the pro category! Which would seem to trump whatever they might claim their intent is…

    Feel free to read the actual rule.

    3.3.12: Best Professional Artist. An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during the previous calendar year.

    If the advertisement isn’t in a professional publication, then what?

  36. Looking at the fan artists and fan writers who are being nominated recently, it definitely seems that a significant amount of nominators have a different idea as to what they want to acknowledge as fan art and fan writing than what those categories were previously intended for.

    I feel like making fannish art which you can buy copies of is more akin to JJ’s busking example. I’d say it’s very much like having a Patreon. As opposed to art that is made for self-published books and semi-prozines. I would like to see that moved to Pro Artist or whatever it might be called — Best Professional Illustrator?

  37. I would argue that an advertisement is a professional publication, in and of itself. But yeah, I can see how that might not be as clear cut as I might have hoped.

  38. Patreon is an example of a platform that enables some to make their (or a significant portion of their) living off it. So you can’t just give a ‘free pass’ for it in fan categories, surely?

  39. errolwi,
    Not for work that’s only available to Patrons. But for work that is freely available to read or view outside of that — I’d say yes.

  40. The admins should be censured for their bizarre ruling of the Hugo packet when #1 it has no basis in fact; #2 the Hugo packet isn’t covered by the constitution; and #3 they don’t police artists who present out-of-year artwork as examples.

    (I was going to use a/b/c, but c in parens turns into a copyright symbol. Le sigh.)

    And I’m okay with bandages.

    That said, it’s absurd on its face to claim that an online shopping experience or advertising makes an artist a Best Fan Artist contender. (N.B.: They may be one in spite of those things existing and the advertisement may or may not be a professional work.) Also, the resolution part is just weird; who/what defines “full-resolution” etc. No, that’s getting too weirdly technical and yet vague at the same time.

    So the proposal is quite flawed, but if amended during the proposal/discussion process, I could vote for it (depending on the alteration[s]).

  41. @Laura: Looking at Patreon like that gets messy quickly, though. Some creators post things to Patreon at levels requiring payment, but with the understanding they’ll later post them for all to see. Are they a pro artist until one or more items are freely available, then they’re also a fan artist? I’m not saying yes or no; it makes my head explode, that’s all. 😉

  42. I wasn’t thinking of the paid-access-only element of content (although the more I think about that the more boundary issues come to mind)
    Often the free element of an artist’s on-line presence is a significant part of why people subscribe/gift/support/etc them – especially at lower price tiers of support. The free element often is a necessary part of the environment that enables higher levels of support (e.g. guest host on a podcast).
    I think I’m just flagging that what looks like fan writing etc can be semi-pro or pro in some contexts, and the boundaries are often not able to be drawn using public information.
    From memory Charlie Stross did a blog post that said his blog (which doesn’t even have a tip jar) is not a fan publication, giving the reasons – which weren’t publicly evident.

  43. @Kendall
    Well, people can be both fan and pro at the same time. Thinking of Fan Writer, one of the people that I have been nominating for a while now (he’s been on the longlist, but not a finalist) has a blog with plenty of free posts. He’s had a tip jar in the side bar for a long time. Recently, he’s started a Patreon. Some longer less time-sensitive posts are now there first and at the blog later. There is also a sticky post on the blog which asks readers to consider becoming Patrons. I’ll continue nominating him as a Fan Writer as long as the work which is posted on the blog in the qualifying year continues to impress me. If the only work I thought was Hugo worthy was behind the paywall during the qualifying year, I wouldn’t.

  44. errolwi:

    …not a fan publication, giving the reasons – which weren’t publicly evident.

    That’s the problem I have with art and non-fiction writing from semiprozines qualifying their creators for fan categories. If the editors didn’t tell us, I would never be able to see that Uncanny is semi-pro and Lightspeed is pro.

  45. @JJ: I agree with you on both your examples. Busking is not a professional performance but an article on Tor.com is professional writing (because Tor.com is clearly a professional publication by the definition in the constitution).

    And I also agree with Cora that there seems to be consensus that tip jars, etc. don’t necessarily qualify a work (either written or art) as professional.

    At least here. But based on what I saw at the Business Meeting, there’s a vocal contingent that want to be extremely restrictive on Fan Art.

    I’d be okay with the proposed amendment (minus the advertisement language) in the short term. But sadly, I won’t be able to attend this year’s Business Meeting, so I’ll just have to see how it turns out.

  46. I think that all the issues stem from the fact that fan is not the antonym of professional, amateur is. Since fan and amateur are not synonyms there are works, both art and written, that are both fan and professional as well as works that are neither. This blurs the boundaries and leads to the problems at issue.

  47. @JJ

    Would you consider someone who is busking to be a professional performer? I would not. They might get $5 one day, no money another day, and $1 the next day. They are not performing for hire, the way a concert musician is, or the way that a freelance or staff writer who’s being paid the going rate is producing for hire. They are out in the street doing something they love to do, and occasionally a passerby may throw a dollar or two in the hat for them in appreciation.

    @Lorien Gray

    Busking is not a professional performance

    This attitude demeans buskers, promotes the “starving artist” trope, and is in many cases simply wrong. I have known, and known of, a number of magicians who were professional buskers, and for long periods of time made their entire professional income by busking. One you may have heard of is Harry Anderson, who went on to star in Night Court. In the early 1970s, he spent his winters on the street in San Francisco doing magic for passersby. Penn Jillette was a juggler on the streets of Philadelphia before Penn & Teller was a thing.

    Buskers are professionals, they have professional organizations, and professional get-togethers.

    If you see a street performer, and you enjoyed the show, you have seen a professional at work. Tip him or her when he or she passes the hat. With folding money, not coins.

  48. In my mind, the pertinent part of comparing busking to someone having a virtual tip jar, links to their Patreon, etc. on their site is not to say anything about the quality of the work or how much they might earn but that you see the work up front and then decide if you would like to contribute if you so desire and are able to do so.

  49. @Bill – I apologize for wording my comment insensitively. I didn’t mean to denigrate street performers. I have a great respect for their talent and work.

    I was trying, and failing, to make a distinction between people who are hired by someone else prior to the job and people who put their work out there with only a possibility that someone might kick in some money towards them.

    That distinction may be helpful in clearly communicating a line between Pro Artist and Fan Artist for the purpose of the award categories.

    But you do bring up an important point. The plain understanding of professional versus the way the Hugos defines it can contribute to the confusion over who’s eligible for what.

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