I refer art that is original, realistic and displays the use of technical skill over derived/interpreted works, abstract, and…errr…accidental works. I can and have been persuaded/moved by works that are highly abstract, clearly representational, and make us of chance/unplanned circumstances to good effect. I marginally prefer flat art to sculpture. I regard art for display more highly than art for use or wear. (I don’t use books as doorstops, stereo proppers, or bug smashers, either.) (Edit: Yes, I like illustrated book covers more than plain ones. Yes, even Baen covers. No, I don't have space in my house for all the book covers I like. No, it's not logical. Hush and let me finish. End edit.) I like realism and grit but not gore. I have definite color preferences, and pinks and oranges aren’t them. I prefer art that I can hang/place in my living/work space over art that I can only stand to look at for half an hour at a time.
I prefer thunderheads and lightning to fluffy white clouds, and deserts and mountains to green plains. I prefer scenes over landscapes, and both over portraits or still-life. I like my works finished more than unfinished. I like portraits of animals more than those of people.
I prefer works where the main effect is the creation of something beautiful, and the interpretation is secondary (at best). For referential works (particularly media-tie-in types) I make a rough division between “illustrative” and “interpretation”. I prefer interpretation of middling skill to illustrative of better skill, although exceptional is exceptional. However, drag the interpretation too far off the source material, (or too far into the artist’s intracranial pov) and you’ll lose me.
These are very arbitrary, no-accounting-for-taste opinions. I enjoy going to museums & art galleries with friends more than by myself, because I like listening to people be happy about the things they like. And sometimes exposure to other opinions changes mine. But not generally.
JIMMINEE CRICKET THIS WAS JACKED UP.
Both the pro and the fan artist categories were missing entries. It’s disheartening that there has been a great deal of discussion on the Orbit decision on novel entries, but none that I have seen – aside from this very helpful post - about the exclusion of graphic novels or artist samples.
The labeling of the works was very uneven and generally non-existent. Was I looking at digital, watercolor, oil? Computer aided or not? Titles? Some of the entries had three works in them, some had ten.
All this made it more difficult, IMO, than it needed to be in order to make a decent comparison between portfolios.
Which brings me to another point. I’m…not crazy about how the categories are named. I think there is a lot more to “best professional artist” than simply a portfolio. (IMO, remember.) I think a great SF artist would be able to both create work that stood alone and art that illustrated/supported/interwove with other media (esp book covers & con pamphlets). I also think that a great artist would be one who was reliable and could work to a schedule. (By which I mean ‘on time as the contract stated’ not ‘fast’.) I think that there’s room for ‘fast’ too…but I’m thinking the publishing houses care more about ‘on time’.
The works given here had little to no indication of those other qualities of an artist. So I just picked between portfolios. Which, IMO, is great for picking art, but not artists. In that spirit, I am also not considering how many times an artist has won or been nominated before.
Hugo art ballot relevant links (updated as relevant/practical/whenever)