The finalists for the Hugo Awards were announced last weekend (and congratulations to all the nominees), but the numbers of ballots really stood out to me. According to the Hugo site:
- 1923 ballots were cast.
- Best novel received 1595 nominations.
- Best Professional Artist received 624 nominations.
- Best Fan Artist received 316 nominations (the lowest of any category).
Now, there is some confusion generally about these two categories - particularly the fan artist category, which basically covers any art first displayed in 2013 that was not created as a commission for an entity providing 1/4 of any individual's income. So this means that an artist could be eligible for both categories, depending on the circumstances of individual commissions. [The covers that Julie Dillon has done for me, for instance, qualify her for the "Best Fan Artist" category.] Some people are even more confused because "fan art" means to many people "work created as a fan of someone else's intellectual property" (this is also eligible, but the category is not limited to that work).*
Now, since the announcement of the finalists, I've read and listened to a few different Hugo Awards discussions, and when they get to the art categories (particularly "Best Fan Artist") almost all of them have said: "I'm going to skip this because I don't know enough about the category".
I find this strange! Very strange! 1923 people thought themselves sufficiently informed about SFF novels to cast a ballot (a process that means at minimum the six or so hours of reading it would take to finish one rather short novel), but only 624 people had managed to see at least one SFF picture and have a positive reaction to it. Not even the cover of the novel they had just read! [Let alone the fan art for their latest favourite movie.]
I'm willing to bet that, during this past year, most of the people nominating saw an order of magnitude more SFF art than they read novels. Art (SFF or not) enriches our lives daily and there is almost zero effort involved in enjoying it. You don't have to be an expert to parse your own reaction to a picture. "Like? Y/N". That's it. You didn't need to be a Professor of English Literature to nominate that novel, and there's no degree in the History of Fine Art required to remember the name of the artist of a work you liked.
Finding out the name and year of eligibility of a piece of art is definitely more work, but heck, again there are the covers of the novels you've just voted into eligibility. The ones festooning the bookshelves and pouring off our computer screens. Are these artists not worth that tiny bit of effort?
Here is a collection of links to this year's finalists, and I expect some of their work will be in the Hugo voting package, which will make this next stage easier. But I'd love it if next year there was less of the "I don't know enough" and more of the "I liked this".
'Cause artists are awesome:
|The Pyramids of London - Julie Dillon|