Reading for the Hugos 2016: Visual Art Edition 8/3

So, I bought a copy of Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art arrived last week, and it’s a gorgeous collection. The book is eligible for the 2016 Hugos in the Best Related Work category, and I would be very pleased to see it turn up the list of nominees.


I’ll admit, artists working in SFF publishing weren’t really something I really paid much attention to prior to taking more of an interest in the Hugo Awards vote. I’ve always appreciated good illustration but never really thought about it much beyond “hey, pretty cover.” Thinking about artists in terms of potential Hugo nominees, though, has required a lot more thought and research, especially since the eligibility requirements for the two Hugo artist categories are – it has to be said – fairly convoluted for someone who’s coming at this from a fan perspective rather than as a professional.

There are two artist categories in the Hugos, Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist. As I understand the eligibility requirements, an artist has to be able to produce three works published in the year of eligibility that fall into one or the other category. The distinction between professional and fan art adds another wrinkle, as Worldcon’s definition of what’s professional or not is somewhat technical: “A professional publication either (1) 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.”

So, yeah, not exactly easy for a newbie Hugo voter to figure out.

Time Salvager cover art by Richard Anderson
Time Salvager cover art by Richard Anderson

There is some help out there: In the past, the Hugo Award Eligible Art(ists) blog has compiled list of qualifying artists in both categories, and hopefully, they’ll be continuing that for next year’s awards as well. The semiprozine directory at is likewise useful for determining whether art appearing in a periodical is eligible under the professional category (in the case of professional periodicals) or the fan category (in the case of semiprozines and fanzines). And if you’re trying to figure out whether an artist has the requisite three works in the year of eligibility, The Internet Speculative Fiction Database is also an invaluable tool, though, I’ve found, not always comprehensive.

Anyway, my list of artists who I’ve been following is much too long for an already long post, so just two this time: Richard Anderson has produced a lot of my favorite covers this year, including cover art for Time Salvager (pictured above), The Dinosaur Lords, Echopraxia, Empire Ascendant, and The Providence of Fire. I’m particularly impressed by Anderson’s range – it seems some SFF artists just concentrate on landscapes, or figure art, or spaceships, or whatever, but Anderson does all of those quite well. And I like how he, even when he’s doing pretty conventional SFF scenes, uses broad impressionistic strokes, a nice break from the more photorealistic look commonly found on SFF book covers.

Karen Memory cover art by Cynthia Sheppard
Karen Memory cover art by Cynthia Sheppard

I was also quite impressed by the cover art for Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory (above), created by artist Cynthia Sheppard, and was pleased to discover that she has at least two other book covers this year, enough to make her eligible in the Best Professional Artist category: The Iron Assassin and the forthcoming A Daughter of No Nation. She’s also done a lot of work for Magic the Gathering, which I now realize is where I initially recognized her style from. I love her palette choices in particular, and I hope to see more book covers from her.

Anyway, I still have quite the list of artists whose work I’ve been following, so perhaps more next time. The list of short fiction I’ve liked recently has also gotten a bit unwieldy, so I’ll have to work that into a future blog post as well. Back to reading!

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