by Doctor Science
The Hugo Awards Ceremony is just starting. There's a livestream here, they tell me -- I have Flash disabled, so I can't see it. I'm following Mur Lafferty's twitter, Sasquan's twitter, and the thread at File 770. The ceremony is on Pacific Time and I am on Eastern, so I am pretty much certain to be asleep long before we get to Best Novel.
I'll put this much up right now, then edit to add what I have to say about the Art awards.
The Hugo Art Awards, for "Pro Artist" and "Fan Artist", are stuck in the Century of the Fruitbat; it's really time to think about how they should work in the Century of the Anchovy.
In the first place, the names aren't accurate: they're not actually for two different types of *artist*. The rules state:
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.The Hugo Awards site states, of "Fan Artist":
Best Fan Artist. An artist or cartoonist whose work has appeared through
publication in semiprozines or fanzines or through other public display during the previous calendar year.
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.In other words, a single artist could be nominated for both "Fan Artist" and "Pro Artist", which doesn't make sense if the words "fan" and "pro" describe the person.
The rules actually distinguish different types of *distribution*, not different types of *people*.
"Pro" art is accessible to anyone who pays the distributor, usually a magazine or book publisher. It is out in the public world, anyone can find it. Traditionally, this art is of high technical quality, professional in every sense.
"Fan" art may be sold -- as works in art shows often are -- but it's only really accessible to people inside sf/f fandom. You have to be an insider, on some level, to find (or hear about) fanzines, or to go to conventions where art shows take place. Traditionally, this art is frequently humorous or black-and-white only, reflecting the fact that the artists and distributors don't spend much money on it.
But that division is so 20th century. How do you categorize artwork that is not (directly) paid for, but which is distributed very widely, accessible to anyone in the world? Art on web pages, on deviantart, on tumblr?
At present, art on non-pro websites is all categorized as "fan art", whether the artist is a pro or not. If you look over the list of winners and nominees, you can see that a revolution took place in about 2013.
Before then, there weren't all that many new names from year to year, and an artist's first win usually happened after several appearances on the nominees list.
As I predicted, Elizabeth Leggett won for Fan Artist. I will also predict that she was not in first place for nominations.
This is the third year in a row when someone won the Fan Artist award in their (her) first time on the ballot. In 2013 and 2014, the "dark horses" were fifth and third among the nominees, respectively.
I think what's going on is a seismic shift in how sf/f art is distributed. Galen Dara, Sarah Webb, and now Leggett are professional-quality artists who have a significant amount of work online, but outside of the (few) pro sites. Internet distribution isn't mentioned in the Hugo rules, so their work counts as "fan art" for Hugo purposes -- but they are clearly leaps and bounds ahead of the amateur fan artists who are the usual suspects.
In between house renovations, I was dithering all summer about whether the Art categories need to be re-furbished or re-written. I'm now thinking that we shouldn't, I'll just encourage net-based fandom to nominate more artists from deviantart, tumblr, etc., in "Fan Artist". I anticipate that category will end up being broader than "Pro Artist", because it can include artists from all over the world, who might not have access to professional sf/f publishing, but who can nonetheless distribute their work globally.
I don't know that there will be any place or award for the traditional amateur fanartists, who really aren't going to be able to compete against the best of the world on the Web. But hey, that's the future for you.