The folks over at Spectrum – a group devoted to showcasing fantasy, science fiction, and horror artwork – have posted their thoughts on the Best Artists Hugo award:
Benefits to artist-winners…are a bit more nebulous. Perhaps part of the reason is that, unlike the fiction categories, the Best Artist Hugo has never been for a specific work: there’s never a singular piece you can point to and say “that’s the winner.” Though it could be argued that the Best Editor Hugo is similarly non-specific, it’s also just as fair to point out that it’s not the same either: an artist is a creator on par with the writers, responsible for producing original works. Editors fulfill many valuable and laudable functions – but they’re not creating content.
So the generic “body-of-work” nature of the Best Artist Hugo often has led to votes being cast for familiar names, not particular covers or illustrations.
The Hugo shouldn’t be a “nice guy” award, presented because this artist or that was “so friendly” when encountered at a convention: it should be for the work.
Good points. There’s no reason why individual works of visual art should not be held at the same level as that of written art.