Spectrum 23: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art Award Recipients

The Spectrum 23 Awards were presented May 7 at a gala celebration at the historic Society of Illustrators carriage house in New York City. Several hundred artists, patrons, and fans attended the ceremony, which also included an introduction by Spectrum Director John Fleskes and a memorial video commemorating creators that had passed away in the last year.

The awards were sculpted by Kristine Poole with appropriately gold or silver patinas by Colin Poole to illustrate the symbol of the artist’s Muse. The statues are 15″ tall and cast in bronze with either silver or gold accents. The Pooles also designed, sculpted, and presented the second Spectrum Rising Star Award to a young artist fresh in their career.

This year’s blue ribbon jury for Spectrum 23 consisted of Dave Palumbo, Cynthia Sheppard, Kirk Thatcher, Charlie Wen, and Terryl Whitlatch and determined Silver and Gold recipients in eight categories. The Spectrum Advisory Board also selected the 2016 Grand Master Honoree.



Nico Delort, The Blessing of Athena

Gold Award

  • Nico Delort, “The Blessing of Athena”

Silver Award

  • Joseph Qiu, “24 Hour Movie Marathon”

Other nominees:

  • Bartosz Kosowski, “Discworld”
  • Colin Poole, “Vishnu’s Third Avatar”
  • Andrew Thompson, “Glitch”



Rovina Cai, “Tom, Thom”

Gold Award

  • Rovina Cai, “Tom, Thom”

Silver Award

  • Karla Ortiz, “Sorcerer of the Wildeeps”

Other nominees:

  • Chris Ayers, “Munchasaurus Rex”
  • Annie Stegg Gerard, “Renard and the Strawberries”
  • Donato Giancola, “Vesuvius”



Daren Bader, Tribes of Kai

Gold Award

  • Daren Bader, “Tribes of Kai, page 41”

Silver Award

  • Nic Klein, “Drifter”

Other nominees:

  • Gael Bertrand, “Island #4 cover”
  • Tyler Crook, “Harrow County #1 cover”
  • Paolo Rivera, “Hellboy 1953”



Vance Kovacs, King Louie’s Court

Gold Award

  • Vance Kovacs, “King Louie’s Court”

Silver Award

  • Te Hu, “Journey to West”

Other nominees:

  • Mirko Failoni, “The Mushroom Forest”
  • Seth Rutledge, “Window View”
  • Bayard Wu, “Dragon Island”



Forest Rogers, The Morrigan

Gold Award

  • Forest Rogers, “The Morrigan”

Silver Award

  • Thomas Kuebler, “Adelpha and Her Sister”

Other nominees:

  • Akihito, “Death Wings”
  • Patrick Masson, “The Blind Death”
  • Dug Stanat, “Meeting Master Jones”



Tran Nguyen, Traveling To a Distant Day

Gold Award

  • Tran Nguyen, “Traveling To a Distant Day”

Silver Award

  • Chris Seaman, “Family Portraithausen: A Tribute to Ray Harryhausen”

Other nominees:

  • Donato Giancola, “Empathy”
  • Greg Ruth, “Finnegan’s Field”
  • Sam Weber, “The Language of Knives”



Tyler Jacobson, Exalted Angel

Gold Award

  • Tyler Jacobson, “Exalted Angel”

Silver Award

  • Julie Bell, “Behind the Veil”

Other nominees:

  • Wesley Burt, “Natural Connection”
  • Bill Carman, “Medieval Batman”
  • Te Hu, “Offering”



Rob Rey, Bioluminescence

Gold Award

  • Rob Rey, “Bioluminescence”

Silver Award

  • Wayne Haag, “Dust Devil”

Other nominees:

  • Dragan Bibin, “Pull”
  • Jaemin Kim, “King Under the Mountain”
  • Greg Opalinski, “Initiate”


  • Victor Maury

Other nominees:

  • J.A.W. Cooper
  • Yoann Lossel


  • Mike Mignola

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20 thoughts on “Spectrum 23: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art Award Recipients

  1. jonesnori/Lenore Jones on May 9, 2016 at 11:08 am said:

    I love the one with the glowing mouse.

    It is gorgeous. Odd how a mouse glowing with the intensity of a light-bulb is still somehow subtle . I also like that there are lampshades but the light/mouse is outside of them and looks almost disdainful towards them – like they are cages.

  2. The wolf wood is also gorgeous. I had seen that one before, so it didn’t hit me as hard, but wow!

  3. This post seems like an appropriate space to pass on the announcement that the Carl Brandon Award nominations are open for the 2014 and the 2015 awards.

    Two awards are given each year:

    The Carl Brandon Parallax Award is given to works of speculative fiction created by a self-identified person of color. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

    The Carl Brandon Kindred Award is given to any work of speculative fiction dealing with issues of race and ethnicity; nominees may be of any racial or ethnic group. This Award includes a $1000 cash prize.

    Nominations open through July 16, 2016

    Nominations for 2016 will open after the 2014 and 2015 ones close.

    Genre/media info:

    When considering works to nominate, keep in mind that by speculative fiction, we mean science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, or any works that incorporate elements of these and related genres. Works do not have to be marketed as science fiction to be eligible for these awards. We welcome graphic novels for consideration.

    the online nomination form looks fairly open, with name and contact information optional but there is a juried process mentioned in connection with the 2012 and 2013 awards which are currently in process.

  4. As Barry Malzberg pointed out in 2010, science fiction itself is sadly an ever dwindling part of any fannish activity. Actual SF art has almost vanished from SF/F art books. It used to be said humorously, paraphrasing a quote from an old Robert Moore Williams story, that it was a proud and lonely thing to be a science fiction fan. Now that statement could be repeated ironically at science fiction conventions, book and art award ceremonies, etc. Robert Silverberg said that he thought the one redeeming virtue of Dragoncon was that it drained off all the people you didn’t want to see at Worldcon. How to do this with fantasy fiction and art? The word is that fantasy is now bigger among readers, and far more profitable for the publishers and writers just interested in making a fast buck. That’s fine, but if this is so, why can’t there be separate “Fantasy” departments in bookstores, and fantasy conventions? (It has been suggested to me that people would look askance at such labelling; they would assume these were for perverts and porn. If true, does the SF label provide respectable cover for fantasy fans?) Is there some way to arrange a divorce so that the few SF fans left could walk into a bookstore SF section or an SF con and actually find science fiction? As Norman Spinrad pointed out a few years ago, science fiction is a specialized branch of literature that is the product of, and an advocate and/or critic of, the Age of Industrialization and the Age of Reason. Somehow, dragons, elves, fairies, unicorns, hobbits, etc. ad nauseum, and a Hugo award for Harry Potter don’t fit in that tradition. Of course there are going to be howls of protest and outrage, but frankly I don’t care. Actual SF itself has been small and marginalized before, and was probably the better for it.

  5. Some of those pieces are amazing.

    @KBK – what are some recent-ish SF works you’ve liked? I’m curious, not to argue or what-not, but just to see if there’s overlap in what I’ve read* and, if not, hoping I’ll find something interesting.

    * for all I know, most of the current SF I enjoy would be considered Fantasy in SF clothing to more curmudgeonly SF fans.

  6. Somehow, dragons, elves, fairies, unicorns, hobbits, etc. ad nauseum, and a Hugo award for Harry Potter don’t fit in that tradition.

    McCaffrey’s Weyr Search won a Hugo in 1968. Though the dragon-filled quasi-medieval story setting was later retconned to be “science fiction”, at the time it won, it was presented entirely as a fantasy. Her story Dragonrider was nominated in 1969. Fritz Leiber’s Ill-Met in Lankhmar won a Hugo in 1971.

    Going back even further, Leiber’s The Unholy Grail was nominated in 1963, and Andre Norton’s Witch World was nominated in 1964. Norton’s novel Wizard’s World was nominated in 1968. One of the nominees for Best All-Time Series in 1966 was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

    Fantasy fiction has been part of the Hugo tradition for at least fifty years. Complaining about fantasy fiction mixed in with your science fiction in the Hugos at this point is pretty much a day late and a dollar short. Or actually, thousands of days late.

  7. Am so glad that Tran Nguyen’s striking Uncanny cover won – she was one of my Hugo nominees.

  8. Those images are all amazing! I’ve always wished that my creative talents lent themselves to the drawing/painting side of the house.

  9. @snowcrash
    Yes, she was one of my Hugo nominees too, and it was largely due to how much that cover impressed me.

  10. Awesome stuff, and congrats to the winners! I liked Ortiz’s book cover more than Cai’s, but they’re both quite good.

    Great artwork in “Tribes of Kai,” which I’m unfamiliar with and must look for it. (checks it out) Woah, that’s going into my shopping cart. Cool. 🙂 Those ‘taurs are something else!

    @Bruce Arthurs: LOL.

  11. It’s so humbling to see such gorgeous artworks like these, I know I’ll probably never be that good but how could I not still feel inspired to try with giants like these out there putting such imaginative, evocative artworks. The glowing mouse is so understated but so genius! The reflection in the metal can! 😀

    KBK – I’m sorry the sight of these only inspired a bitter rant about the supposed inferiority of fantasy.

    It has been suggested to me that people would look askance at such labelling; they would assume these were for perverts and porn. If true, does the SF label provide respectable cover for fantasy fans?

    This is a particularly nasty jab, seriously if you are supposed to represent “proper” sci-fi fans, then yeah I’d be all for going our separate ways. Thankfully I know you aren’t as representative as you think you are. Have fun with your high-nosed sniffing, buddy.

  12. @jonesnori/Lenore Jones – Thanks! Honestly, who looks at these supremely technically sophisticated artworks and their primary reaction is to get all bent out of shape that fantasy is “now” too mainstream and too lowbrow?

  13. @Sunhawk Honestly, who looks at these supremely technically sophisticated artworks and their primary reaction is to get all bent out of shape that fantasy is “now” too mainstream and too lowbrow?

    Bitter has beens, those who hate change or innovation, people with different taste and believe there are right and wrong taste.

    There was quite a split and insults flying between Monet and Manet followers which continues today. Granted their differences are more cognizant than KBK’s rant as they’re discussing different painting styles. I prefer Monet but I can see Manet’s talent and a few of his paintings blow me away when seen in person. I’ve greatly enjoyed a couple of exhibits where I’ve gotten to see their work side by side. Eavesdropping on others at one of these exhibits as a youngster was eye opening on how seriously people take art and still participate in longstanding feuds.

  14. So, in the making lemonade side of things, I’ve started reading The Best of Barry Malzberg. I’m sure I’ve read his stories before, but the name never stuck with me. So far the first story, about a “black galaxy,” is very interesting. The kind of thing I would’ve loved around when I discovered Ellison.

  15. @Tasha – hey fighting over whose art is better is a whole other kettle of fish, it’s practically expected from the minute you learn that different “ages” of art exist that you will pick sides and defend them to the death. For me, it’s ART NOUVEAU 4 LYFE!!!! lol And I like both Manet and Monet’s work, they focused on different things in a way that to me seems complementary within the Impressionist movement, but artists gotta art and egos are hard for some to set aside, especially at that time lol Some artists of that era were not very nice or good at socializing with others. I mean, look at how poor Van Gogh was shunned, that poor dude lol

    I think the reason that snarky comments about fantasy not belonging with sci-fi because sci-fi is Real Literature get my feathers all ruffled is I’ve been dealing with that sort of elitism practically my whole life, because I’ve been drawing dragons since the day I learned what a dragon WAS and I’ve heard all the same tired tropes about where fantasy “belongs” – apparently not in academia, despite the fact that mythmaking is one of our oldest ways of conveying complex ideas or trying to figure out the world around us! For all their smug superiority, apparently the idea that mythical creatures and stories of gods and demons might in fact be allegorical or even just a reflection of the societies that give birth to them is beyond their comprehension. OR elements of fantasy can just be a way to be imaginative or create aesthetically pleasing pictures, that’s ok too! Art is intrinsically a commentary on the world we live in, sometimes people get too caught up in expecting art to justify itself, to be “allowed” to exist pffft.

    Even the dragon itself, years ago I read a book that talked about the history of dragons spanning centuries and comparing the dragons of different cultures, and one thing that stuck with me is they posited the idea that dragons represent an amalgamation of three of the top predators that primates have to worry about: an eagle, a large snake and a big cat like a lion or jaguar. The idea is that dragons are a manifestation of our oldest and most deep-set fears, derived not just from how those animals hunt/attack (from above, by surprise, with “fire” – venom?) but also their shapes and even the textures of snakeskin, dragons are like a very old shared species memory of danger. So sure, people can try to pretend dragons are just silly bits of nothing that indicate some sort of immaturity or shallowness of taste, but I ain’t buying it. There are good, or at least very interesting, reasons why certain myths come up independently and repeatedly over time. And I love exploring that type of social landscape, it’s rich and deep and very satisfying.

    Oh my what a ramble lol I think it’s time for bed XD

  16. @Sunhawk
    Great ramble. I was teasing a bit. I still remember being looked down on for reading romance and playing classical music (violin & cello) long before I was introduced to the SF versus fantasy BS. Also in trouble in art class for not coloring inside the lines or later not letting go and being more creative (well make up your mind geez).

    Love all the various dragons across different cultures. Saddened so rarely see ones from outside western culture. So much variety.

    I love how a number of myths show up in numerous cultures spontaneously. Makes the world smaller yet with more variety at the same time. 😀

  17. @Tasha – I love a good art joke, cheers for the teasing heh heh You play violin and cello?? That’s so cool! 😀 Anyone who looks down on you for those things is a total knob!

    There is so much contradictory advise in making art, don’t even get me started about days in uni at art school lol

    Variations of dragon fascinate me, I remember being in Mexico and puzzling my tour guide (very nice Mayan dude) because I wanted him to tell me all about their winged/feathered serpent god, what did it look like, how big was it, can you show me some art of it? I don’t think that was part of his prepared tourism info to tell us as we climbed the ruins ha ha

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