Hugo Eligibility Revisited

by Ariela

The news is out! We’re a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist this year. I’m still working on believing it. Terri and I are both so, so grateful to you all.

Voting will begin soon, and when the voter packet is distributed, you’ll see two of our pieces in there:

“Penric’s Demon” Illuminated First Page From the novella “Penric’s Demon” by Lois McMaster Bujold. Licensed by Lois McMaster Bujold.

“Penric’s Demon” Illuminated First Page
From the novella “Penric’s Demon” by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Licensed by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Anathem  Illuminated First Page From the novel  Anathem  by Neal Stephenson. Produced with permission from Neal Stephenson.

Anathem Illuminated First Page
From the novel Anathem by Neal Stephenson.
Produced with permission from Neal Stephenson.

But where did “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” go?

So, funny story about that.

When we published our eligibility post in December, we included the above two works, plus “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” based on The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. The former two were created earlier in 2018 and shown in art shows at Confluence and ICON. We finished “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” late enough in the year that we didn’t have any more art shows booked in which we could show it. We put it all over the interwebs, though.

This is what the Hugo Awards Website gives as the criteria for the Best Fan Artist category (bolding ours):

The final category is also for people. Again note that the work by which artists should be judged is not limited to material published in fanzines. 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.

The internet is about as public as it gets, right? It was even included in Mary Robinette’s Pinterest Gallery for Lady Astronaut Fan Art.

Apparently the Hugo Committee disagrees. Per the email I received from the committee member who contacted me prior to the announcement of the ballot:

The first two pieces clearly qualify, so that is fine. I'm afraid that the rules exclude pieces that have only been displayed online.

This, dear reader, is ridiculous.

From elsewhere on the same page on the Hugo Awards website explaining eligibility:

Web Sites, E-books, and Medium of Distribution

Works published electronically rather than on paper have always been accepted as nominees. A decision of the 2009 WSFS Business Meeting formally acknowledged this by ratifying a Constitutional Amendment that added the words “or the equivalent in other media” to various category definitions. There is no requirement that a work be published on paper (for written/graphic fiction and non fiction), on film or video tape (for dramatic presentations), or that it be distributed through any traditional methods such as bookstores, movie theatres, etc. In other words, publishing and distributing your work on a web site is exactly the same as having copies of your book in a bookstore or your movie shown in a movie theatre. Aside from the fundamental distinctions between written, graphic, and dramatic works, medium of distribution has nothing to do with a work’s eligibility.

And further:

Self-Published Works

There is no restriction on who publishes a work. For example, if an author makes a novel available to be read on a web site or prints copies at his/her own expense, that novel is eligible just the same as a novel published by a well-known publishing company and sold in traditional bookstores.

So why is it possible to “publish” something online but not to put anything “on public display?”

As much as we are sore about losing what I consider to be one of the best pieces of art I have ever done from my Hugo-eligible portfolio this year, I am more upset by the general message this sends

We have blogged before about why we think that restricting the Professional Artist category to “professional publications” is outdated in an age when it is possible to make most if not all of one’s artistic income from online sales directly to customers. But there’s something extra odd and gatekeeper-y in telling a fan that their fan work doesn’t count until someone else - a zine or an art show head - gives it their stamp of approval.

(Also, art shows cost money to enter, adding an economic barrier-to-entry that I find particularly distasteful.)

If authors who publish online are real authors, then artists who post their work online are real artists.

If fan writers who write online are real fans, the artists who art online are real fans, too.

We will be attending Dublin2019, and Terri has a proposal for the WSFS business meeting in the works. I am told there are lists. Because it is time and past to overhaul the Pro Artist / Fan Artist categories. We would really love your support in this endeavor. If you are interested, please let us know by filling out the form below.

And in the meanwhile, please do not consider “Lady Astronaut Nouveau” when you fill out your ballot. If that means that you rank us lower than you would otherwise, so be it. This year’s slate is full of amazing Fan Artists and we could not be mad to lose to any of them.


Want to Help Revise the Artist Category Requirements for the Hugos?

Terri is working on a proposal. If you would like to support us, or be updated on our efforts, please let us know how to contact you below.

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It's an honor...

Rocket ship logo of the Hugo Awards

Rocket ship logo of the Hugo Awards

by Ariela and Terri

Wow. A Hugo nomination.

Thank you so much to all of you. You are the ones who chose us for this honor and we deeply, deeply appreciate it. We love making art, but it’s especially gratifying to know that the art we have made has touched other people.

Also an enormous thank you Lois McMaster Bujold, Neal Stephenson, and Mary Robinette Kowal, for writing words that inspired us so deeply and were kind enough to open the door to us when we came knocking, asking for permission to play in their universes. It’s rather fitting for us to be nominated this year, when all of our public work was literally fanart of others’ writing.

And just look at this slate of nominees! We can’t believe we get to call these people our colleagues!

Likhain’s colorwork is so unbelievably phenomenal and Grace Fong’s use of space is extraordinary. Ariela has been a fan of both of them for years. Terri has been both a fan and a friend of Meg Frank for a while. This is Spring Schoenhuth’s umpteenth nomination, and frankly it is a crime that her jewelry is not more widely recognized as being fine art, because it is. And we don’t even know what to say about being nominated with Sara Felix, who has friggin’ designed not one but two Hugo bases.

And the whole ballot. That is, as Terri says, a whole lotta ballot. How the heck are we going to be able to pick favorites?!!?? Congrats to all of the nominees. So, so well deserved.

Wow.

Ariela here:

You may notice two names up at the top of this blog post and that “we,” which is plural, not royal. That’s because this is a two-person operation. And though it’s my name on that list, it really should be “Geek Calligraphy,” because this art is a team effort. Editors get their own category for the Hugos, but there isn’t one for Artist Wrangler, who is a bit like an editor, agent, manager, assistant, and marketer/publicist all rolled into one. Terri is my creative partner; she comes up with a good chunk of the ideas that turn into our art. Lady Astronaut Nouveau, for example, was the direct result of her demand that I do art for The Calculating Stars, and her input and feedback along the way means you got a very different product than you would have seen from me working on my own. Hugo rules may say that it’s my name on the ballot, but the world should also know about Terri’s contribution.

Thank you everyone again and we will see you in Dublin this summer!

2018 Hugo Eligibility Post: Best Fan Artist

by Ariela

2018 was a hard year. While I didn’t make much new art, I am extremely proud of what I did.

The Hugo Committee has decided this is not eligible.  Lady Astronaut Nouveau Inspired by  The Calculating Stars  by Mary Robinette Kowal. Licensed by Mary Robinette Kowal.

The Hugo Committee has decided this is not eligible.

Lady Astronaut Nouveau
Inspired by The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Licensed by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Anathem  Illuminated First Page From the novel  Anathem  by Neal Stephenson. Produced with permission from Neal Stephenson.

Anathem Illuminated First Page
From the novel Anathem by Neal Stephenson.
Produced with permission from Neal Stephenson.

“Penric’s Demon” Illuminated First Page From the novella “Penric’s Demon” by Lois McMaster Bujold. Licensed by Lois McMaster Bujold.

“Penric’s Demon” Illuminated First Page
From the novella “Penric’s Demon” by Lois McMaster Bujold.
Licensed by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Explode the Gender Binary sticker Watercolor and digital.

Explode the Gender Binary sticker
Watercolor and digital.

Hugo Category Eligibility

Once again, I am eligible for the Best Fan Artist Hugo category. If you are able to nominate for the Hugos, please nominate me as “Ariela Housman,” as the award is for the artist, not the business. (This doesn’t recognize Terri’s hard work and the way she contributed, which is annoying. Any rocket which I may eventually win will really be part hers.)

In a sense, this feels like the first time I really belong in the Fan Artist category, since three of the four pieces above these started as art by a fan of books, even though they are licensed and whatnot.

Explanatory Thingee About Hugo Category Eligibility

Some Hugo categories (Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Semiprozine, and Best Fanzine) are defined by whether the work done was professional, semi-professional, or fannish. The definition of what is a “professional” publication 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.

-TheHugoAwards.org

For the purposes of Hugo categories, you are only a Professional Artist if your stuff gets published in a Professional Publication. So you can make a living entirely for years by selling your SF art directly to other people and still not be considered a Professional Artist for the purposes of the Hugos if your art was never included in a publication that earns according to the above criteria.

When making prints was harder and there wasn't much in the way of direct-to-fans selling outside of conventions, this made sense. Today it is ridiculous, but the rules are the rules.

A Note About Lady Astronaut Nouveau’s Consideration

Update: The Hugo Committee has ruled that Lady Astronaut Nouveau is not eligible. Our post announcing that and our response is here.

When considering whether or not to nominate an artist, only their art which is (1) completed in 2018, and (2) meets the criteria of the category, in this case, Fan Art. An excerpt from the description of the Best Fan Artist category:

Again note that the work by which artists should be judged is not limited to material published in fanzines. Material for semiprozines or material on public displays (such as in convention art shows) is also eligible.

-TheHugoAwards.org

By this metric, whether or not Lady Astronaut Nouveau meets the criteria of Fan Art is questionable, as it was neither published in a semiprozine nor displayed in a convention art show. However, it was posted on this website and blog, Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Pinterest Gallery for Lady Astronaut fanart. Given the wording “not limited to” and “such as” in the category description, we’re reading the examples of semiprozines and convention art shows as just that, examples, and the list thereof as inclusive but not exhaustive. We think that being on the internet is about as public as a display gets, so Lady Astronaut Nouveau should be included when considering Ariela’s 2018 body of work.

Should the Hugo Committee think otherwise, we will remove it from all Eligibility posts about Ariela’s 2018 work.