Editor’s Note: Reblogged from Hugo Eligible Art 2015 at the suggestion of the author.
By Doctor Science: Until recently, nominations for both the Best Pro and Best Fan Artist Hugos were done by the “round up the usual suspects!” method. Artists generally first appeared on the ballots after a few years of being nominated but not making the cut, and then they tended to stay there for a l-o-o-o-n-g time. Winners frequently repeated.
This pattern has been broken recently, in different ways for the two categories.
Best Professional Artist
Julie Dillon won the 2014 Pro Artist Hugo on a ballot with a number of Usual Suspects. In 2015, though Dillon again was on the ballot, all the other names were new. All the new names were from the slating campaigns by the Sad and Rabid Puppies; the artists are all friends of the slate creators.
Dillon won by a landslide, getting 63% of all first-place votes. None of the others finished above “No Award”. (Detailed results are in this PDF.) The artists who would have gotten on the ballot absent the slate were John Picacio, Galen Dara, Stephan Martinière, and Chris McGrath – all Usual Suspects who’ve been nominated before.
Best Fan Artist
Fan Artist was a Usual Suspects category until 2013. That year, Galen Dara barely made it onto the ballot for her first time, with 5th place in nominations. She won handily, with 27% of the first-place votes, 40% more than the runner-up.
In 2014, Sarah Webb got on the ballot for the first time, in third place. She won with 55% of the first-place votes.
Last year, Elizabeth Leggett got onto the ballot for the first time, in 5th place. She won with 41% of the first-place votes.
In other words, the Usual Suspects system has substantially broken down for Best Fan Artist. That’s 3 years in a row where an artist has essentially come out of nowhere to dominate the voting – where by “nowhere” I mean the Internet. All of them are technically skilled and at least semi-pro (Webb is still an art student): they are fans, but they aren’t amateurs.
I have a Cunning Plan
The main reason I have for starting this blog [Hugo Eligible Art 2015 ] is to make it easier for Hugo nominators to survey eligible artists for both Pro and Fan Artist, to break the Usual Suspects habit for both categories. I also think we maybe ought to discuss whether the categories as they’re currently defined are really what we want.
I appreciate the analysis of actual voting behavior in the artist categories.
I find it hilarious that the author mentions that the Sad Puppies were “slating campaigns” while at the same time pointing out that the same tiny number of other individuals were nominated/won year after year after year.
Clearly the previous behavior is more reliable “slating behavior” than Sad Puppies. And most clearly the “slating behavior” continued when the artists nominated “out of the norm:” were all “no awarded” last year.
I think you may be confused as to what “slating” is, if you think it’s merely nominating the same people repeatedly due to familiarity.
That said, I got tired of this subject a while ago, so if you’re determined to call things that don’t involve a slate “slating,” feel free, I certainly can’t and won’t stop you.
Clearly the previous behavior is more reliable “slating behavior” than Sad Puppies.
Reality must be a difficult and confusing place for you.
Rounding up the Usual Suspects isn’t slating, because it wasn’t a *campaign*. It was IMHO just laziness, and the difficulty of having a lot of artists’ work in front of one to compare. As you can see, from the fact that the pattern broke spontaneously for Fan Artist.
and also I tick the box.
Thanks for doing this! I added a link to your blog at the Hugo Rec Season site and will definitely lean heavily on it when we cover the art categories.
Although I’m a fan of Julie Dillon (especially after she awesomely illustrated a Dragon Magazine article I wrote 8 years ago), I’m all for seeing who else is out there. There is so much incredible sci fi/fantasy art being created all the time, I’m sure there is far more than 5 award-worthy artists.
Can people hire you at as an audience member for comedy gigs because that is a very low bar for finding something hilarious. That isn’t a criticism, I love the idea of people finding hilarity in the world around them.
Bravo Doctor Science!
“I find it hilarious”
It certainly doesn’t take much to entertain an idiot.
@Doctor Science, thanks for this, and the site. That’s some realllllly pretty artwork there.
English! Do you speak it?
Thanks to Doctor Science! That website will be a great resource!
My hoovercraft is full of eels.
As one of the old Usual Suspects, I’m not accustomed to being described as a “problem.” My view of the problem was that long years of service to fandom could often carry you so far, but no farther, while much younger artists appear from nowhere, win their Hugo and depart from fandom without so much as a “how-do-you-do.” From my point of view, the system would have worked better if the old farts won their rocket sooner and were allowed to “retire” in dignity without clogging up the nominations for year after year. One of my correspondents had an amusing suggestion — he said that nominees should be alble to trade in five Hugo pins for a Hugo Rocket. With that scheme I could trade up to two rockets and still have a pin left over to wear to Bar Mitzvahs. By any analysis, each fan artists is a different case, and has his or her own trajectory to the rocket … or, I suppose, reason for falling short. Meanwhile, I notice that while all the furour over gender equality rages elsewhere, no one has remarked on the odd fact that all the newbie fan artist nominees over the last seven years have been women … as has been all the winners for the last four years.
I just thought it was that visual art is more diffuse than writing and it’s more difficult to associate artists’ names with their work than it is writers, so many artists get overlooked and people grasp for names they recognize.
It’s not really the fault of the artists, young or old.
If you’re wanting to open a discussion on “whether the categories as they’re currently defined are really what we want”, then I’ll give you my opinion. They should be limited to art that is published – that is, illustrative artwork that appears in either a professional publication or a fan publication (for pro artist and fan artist, respectively). In other words, no etsy.com, no dealers room jewelry, no sculpture. This is the way the awards in those categories were originally envisioned.
What counts as “publication”, though? In particular, what counts as “online publication”?
I mean, clearly images at tor.com count as pro publication, right? And images at lightspeedmagazine.com count as semi-pro, hence fan art, right?
So does publication on deviantart or tumblr count as fan publication?
You say “illustrative artwork” is the key, if I understand you. Does that mean original artwork (work that goes with no story) *shouldn’t* qualify? What is your reasoning?
If the awards should be for *illustration*, then almost nothing in Spectrum is Hugo-eligible. Indeed, that would probably make Julie Dillon’s “Imagined Realms” books not Hugo-eligible, which … you’d have to really make an argument for.
I’ve definitely noticed! And there are SO MANY more behind them, it’s astonishing. That’s part of why I started the blog, because SFF fan art (in particular) is remarkably rich and burgeoning.
I didn’t mean to imply that the Usual Suspects *themselves* are a “problem”, I meant that the problem is that voters don’t seem to know more than a handful of artist names, so the same ones get nominated year after year. But the growth of the Internet means that the cost of publication & distribution has fallen to almost nothing, so the number of potentially-qualifying artists has exploded.
Dr. Science. No, and I mean that in capital letters, NO, semi-pro is semi-pro, not FAN. No wonder the Hugos are often so messed up, when nobody seems to know what the categories mean.
A moose bit my sister once.
Rich Lynch: If you’re wanting to open a discussion on “whether the categories as they’re currently defined are really what we want”, then I’ll give you my opinion. They should be limited to art that is published – that is, illustrative artwork that appears in either a professional publication or a fan publication (for pro artist and fan artist, respectively). In other words, no etsy.com, no dealers room jewelry, no sculpture. This is the way the awards in those categories were originally envisioned.
Just as other categories have changed and morphed over time with changes in our culture, I think the Artist categories should as well. I’ve seen some amazing SFFnal art — a lot of it 3-dimensional — and I think that the Hugos should adjust to be able to recognize that, as well. A WSFS revisiting of these categories’ definitions would not go amiss.
JJ — sure. Fine. I’m in agreement with recognizing ability where it’s found. But we didn’t shoehorn every work of fiction, regardless of length, and every work of non-fiction into a single category, just because they’re all in the form of written words. There’s no justification for judging everything that is made for looking at as a single award category, either. If we want sculptures, props and models, etched glass, fantasy blades, and whatever-else to be given awards, then make an award for them. Don’t give the Best Magazine Hugo to some guy who has made a fantasy tuba, no matter how artistic the tuba is!
I’m going by the rules as laid out in the WSFS Constitution:
Semiprozine art counts as fan art.
I’ve just found the semiprozine directory, which I can use to sort “fan art” from “pro art” for Hugo purposes.
I must admit I’m a bit puzzled about why semiprozine publication counts as fanart. Anyone know the reasons behind it? I’m assuming there were some. 🙂
Meredith: I think it’s a relic of when semi-prozines were considered fanzines.
Taral: We don’t change the category of a short story depending on if was published in a fanzine or on line or in an anthology, but the very same set of illustrations can make their artist eligible for best fan artist or best pro artist depending on the venue it was published in. (Fan Writer has historically been awarded for a different kind of writing; not so much the fiction writing.)
All things considered, I think we need to start looking at revamping the art categories. Unfortunately, I have no idea how. It would be good to ask a bunch of different sorts of artists what they think as a first step, I guess.
Personally, I’m not fond of any of the “body of work” style categories, but I especially feel like these should be for best artwork rather than best artist.
Meredith: Disclaimer – I have zero idea of the original thinking, however, to make a guess, I figure it avoids the “donut hole” kind of problem where it’s too professional to qualify for fan art, and not professional enough to qualify as pro-art, so you are out of luck.
That being said, the current categories do have a definite “patched together” kind of feel. For example, in my career as a web app programmer, you learn to recognize code that was cohesively planned and organized, as opposed to code that was patched on to address a specific problem (and might have fixed the problem well, mind you). After a while, code can easily start being more patches than original code. A lot of the wording of certain Hugo categories gives me the same feeling. More patches than overall, cohesive plans.
Also realize that apparently professional artists can be nominated in the fan art category as well, just “You should not consider such professionally-published works when judging this award.” (quoted from Hugo Awards site – not the Constitution, mind you, but does seem to convey the intent.) So it’s entirely possible for someone to be Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist as long you only judge them on certain parts of their work (and that division relies on how someone – possibly not even the artist – earns their livelihood, which I find can be odd since it only takes one person living really cheap to make an entire publication suddenly professional).
Maybe it makes more sense to focus on works and not people (and have “Best Cover”, “Best Interior Illustration(s)” or something) but regardless of that, Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist are here in these forms for at least the next 2 years.
I had meant to thank you for a thought-provoking posting. You had asked me to clarify:
“You say “illustrative artwork” is the key, if I understand you. Does that mean original artwork (work that goes with no story) *shouldn’t* qualify? What is your reasoning?”
So yes, I think that original artwork, not published anywhere, should also not be eligible. But, in the end, this is really just a moot opinion. We’re not awarding for individual pieces of art, we’re awarding the artist. Most usually, anybody who produces an excellent piece of stand-alone art (and I’m specifically limiting this to paintings, drawings, and other 2-D works) has also had other pieces that were actually published somewhere.
Kyra: ‘Best Artwork’ has been tried; I believe it was abandoned for lack of sufficient nominations. While in general I share your dislike of person awards, and definitely support the current plan to eliminate the editors, I’m not sure there’s any alternative here; individual artworks wouldn’t be widely enough recognised to gather nominations.
Rich Lynch: I’m a bit puzzled that you’re identifying ‘original’ with ‘not published’; there are, as Doctor Science points out, whole books of original art.
Semiprozines: I think I can glimpse the original rationale of the division. I take it that to start with it was entirely to do with milieu; pro art was art that appeared in books and pro magazines, published to the general public, and fan art was art that appeared in fanzines, which were distributed in the fannish world. (Note that the definition of pro artist does not imply that she should have art as her profession; it is entirely to do with where her art appears.) When semiprozines appeared, they were seen as part of the fannish world, so art in them was still fan art.
Now two things have happened to mess this up: a. Changes to the semiprozine rule mean that that category now covers a rather different kind of magazine (which, by the way, messes up the definition of fan writer as well), and b. The emergence of the internet makes the whole idea of dividing things up by milieu tricky.
(The current proposed changes that Kevin Standlee has discussed, by the way, eliminate semiprozines anyway, so the rules for the art categories would have at least to be changed to cope with that.)
Best Original Artwork was attempted four or five times. The number of actual nominations was pitiful. In multiple cases, the 5% rule applies and only three works made the ballot. After such a sequence, the members of WSFS voted to repeal it.
IMO, Best Original Artwork is a category that sounds like a good idea from a theoretical perspective, but it simply doesn’t work as a category in the real world.
A book of original art would seem to me to be a book of published art. This is a bit of a grey area but as I mentioned earlier, we’re awarding the artist here, not the artwork. Most likely the artist actually was published at some point in the year, and there’s no way to distinguish which works the nomination is based on.
Thanks for the explanations, everyone!
I feel like work that was sold ought to be Pro and work distributed for free ought to be Fan… But I’m not sure how copyright-questionable work would fit into that, such as the various t-shirt artists who rarely have licenses for the IPs they draw from but can earn quite a bit from a design. It ‘feels’ more like Fanart, but they’re definitely getting paid!
Whether the artist categories ought to be split up further is another matter. I think that might depend on whether there would be enough of the different types to make pulling the other mediums out. Splitting them is all very well as an idea, but if it would basically end up with Hugo’s for drawn art and none for anyone else because there weren’t enough nominations I wouldn’t be too thrilled about that.
In your esteemed opinion, what *would* be a good way to divide up the universe of SFF art for voting purposes?
As I collect more links, I’m finding myself scratching my head over things like The Luminarium: an online gallery and community of professional artists. Sometimes the images are also sold as book covers or illustrations, but mostly (as far as I can tell) they sell prints or originals, just as they would at a con.
The fanart category was only added late in the history of the Hugo, and art categories have tended to lag behind the others in diversifying. Definitely, the two categories — pro and fan art — need to be updated to take into account new realities. However, it will take people who can attened Worldcon business meetings to do it, and so far they’ve not show much interest and/or success in doing so. That is why the Hugo rules define fanart and semi-pro art together … not because it makes any inherent sense to do so. In any case, I’m pretty much given up. I can’t see any clear way out of the impasse the genre is entering as it becomes mainstream, and open to all influences from every corner of a world of seven billion souls. The Hugos can only become as impersonal and foreign as the Nobel Prizes over time.
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You mean, like the people right here? So how, in your own opinion, should it be updated? It’s not like the Business Meeting is an impossible hurdle; Making Light spend several thousand messages working out, arguing about, and refining E Pluribus Hugo and then sent representatives to the Business Meeting to make their case. (Other people, who didn’t spend the time and effort to consider and refine their ideas, didn’t make it past the first meeting.)
And I know for a fact there are people here who plan to be at next year’s Worldcon, and probably even the Business Meeting. Given that there’s precedent for working out ideas for updating the Hugo awards on a blog, (and assuming people here are interested, and the blog owner (hi Mike!) allows it), why not state what you think the Hugo awards for art and/or artists should look like. Then people can pick at those ideas, expand them, improve them, disimprove them, endorse them, whatever. But if you say “I’ve pretty much given up”, then that’s that.
I’ve been open about the fact that I don’t know how to change the art/artist Hugos, but I’m interested in seeing ideas about how to do it. And if we as a group come up with good enough ideas, then the Business Meeting isn’t an insurmountable wall.
The fanart category was only added late in the history of the Hugo
I’m trying to figure out how 1967 was “late in the history of the Hugo”.
On how to divide the categories: it seems very hard to work out a rational division between Pro and Fan. For a long time the division was simply in terms of distribution (a Pro publication was one which sold more than 10, 000 copies), but this is clearly unsustainable in the age of the internet. More recently, the attempt has been made to define it in terms of money; a Pro publication is one that provides more than a quarter of someone’s income (not, one should note, just one where money changes hands). But this both seems very arbitrary, and relies on facts that may not always be knowable.
One iconoclastic possibility would be to drop the distinction entirely, and just have Best Artist. It’s not as if we had a shortage of Hugos; and there are plans afoot for more.
One might object to this, though, on the grounds that if there were just one award it might well turn out to be dominated by one group – possibly the current Usual Suspects for Best Pro Artist – and not give all deserving artists a fair chance.
Another possibility might be to have one award for Best Illustrator, and another for Best Original Artist. The first would capture the original intent of Best Pro Artist, which is still implied by the wording of the rule; the second would cover all art on science-fictional and and fantastic themes that doesn’t fit that category. Would that work? It might come quite close in effect to the present division, but save us the agonising over whether a particular person’s work was really fannish.
The trouble with the Illustrator vs. Original Work distinction is that it doesn’t leave room for what I’d call actually fan art. Things like Hannah Holloway’s Welcome to Night Vale tarot, for instance.
There could be a 3-way split, between Illustration, Original, and Fanart — the latter being “transformative or illustrative work done without coordinating with the creator of the source” — or maybe “originally done”, because of things like the WTNV Tarot now being sold via WTNV itself.
I didn’t say it would be *easy*.
I’m strongly in favor of “art” that includes categories beyond “2-D rectangular images suitable for book or magazine covers” being eligible for the artist awards, whether that’s jewelry, big sculpture, gaming figurines, Etsy fabric art, Hugo Award rocket bases (:-), whatever. It’s more likely to fit into fan art categories, because book covers really are a significant part of F&SF pro art, but there’s a lot of good art out there were should be celebrating.