John Picacio has a worthwhile post up on this year's nominees for best artist, in particular in light of the slate and those who would or would not have made it under their own steam, which I recommend reading.
In light of part of the discussion, I went and double-checked the eligibility of all the nominees -- last year, not only were the RP's suggestions mostly not very good, one of them flat out had no professional sales in the year in question. I posted the results in a comment on that blog posts, but am going to put it here as well with links and opinions added.
As a note on voting, if you are of the "no award anything from a slate" tactic, I would like to point out that putting "no award" by itself does work slightly differently than, say, 1. No Award 2. Why did they have to taint my fave? 3. Really Interesting yet tainted ... down to 5. oh lordy not that mediocre schmuck and 6. Fuck that guy in particular. Which is to say, if No award doesn't win, do you have an opinion on who should? (Order of examples does not correspond to any actual set of nominees) There is a breakdown of exactly how it works somewhere on Kevin Standlee's journal, and probably I linked it last year.
If you didn't read the post, much of it concerns nominee Larry Elmore, who is a stalwart of genre illustration with many decades of solid career, but who has not yet won a hugo. A 30-year retrospective of his work (which was a part TWO) was published this year. Dungeons and Dragons, Heavy Metal, Dragonlance, etc. Not my taste, certainly, but undeniable quality and impact. Michal Karcz aka Karezoid is known best for his art prints, and does more album covers than book covers, but he has done SFF covers, including Kim Stanley Robinson's Shaman for Orbit UK in 2014 and Polish editions of classics by Arthur C. Clarke for Wydawnictwo Literackie. I could not absolutely confirm a 2015 book cover. I can't tell if an album cover for a major label (i.e. Conjure One's Holoscenic among others) counts as "professional publication" or not. So, *probably* eligible but may need to be absolutely confirmed. He has been a favorite of mine for years, and you've probably seen his stuff from Bored Panda, etc. GO LOOK AT THE PRETTIES (there is auto-play ambient music, FYI, and if you don't want to race for the pause button you could look at his instagram instead.) He is Polish, clearly really excited about the Hugo nomination, and also clearly has no clue at all about the puppy thing. Which is just ouch-y. I hope no one tells him, and if he comes to worldcon, I hope No Award doesn't win.Larry Rostant has done a large number of genre book covers, in the UK more often than the US, including a Game of Thrones set, one of Guy Gavriel Kay's series, and Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker series. Specific 2015 works include Peter Brett's "Skull Throne" from Del Rey and Mary Robinette Kowal's "Valour and Vanity" from Tor. You might not know his name (I didn't) but you'll probably recognize his work, if not his book covers than his photography series of Paralympians which I've seen linked around the net a lot. Abigail Larson seems to be more focused on her own art books but she does also do illustration for others, and will be in the next Spectrum. She did covers for Turkish editions of Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small and an alternate cover for an issue of IDW's Edward Scissorhands in 2015, which make her eligible. Her work is gothy and quirky and I am really looking forward to her upcoming illustrated book of Lovecraft's Cats of Ulthar. I know some of you are going to really like her stuff, and I suspect some of you already do.
Lars Braad Andersen does the covers for Castalia House's "There will be war" series, several of which were published in 2015. It's pretty much the Baen aesthetic, which isn't my thing, and the way they use type on those covers makes me want to hurl. (That's not his fault, though.)
No Award is definitely going to get used by me in this category (and would even if there was no slate involved) but I haven't figured out exactly where it is going to go.
I am, as last year, irritated that all the work I put into my nominating ballot got pissed on by the puppies, especially since the categories I work hardest at are also the easiest to game. But I am thrilled that Alyssa Wong
is a finalist for the Campbell even if half her stuff is too scary for me, and Binti
is awesome, and I quite liked Novik's Uprooted
though I know several people that didn't, and in semiprozines Uncanny Magazine
is a yay, and I've nominated Strange Horizons
& Beneath Ceaseless Skies
every year I've done the Hugos and I'm voting for them slate or no slate. Ahem.