Hugo reading 2018: Best Professional Artist Category

Since I’m basically aesthetically challenge and don’t know what to do in an art gallery, I’m judging this category first and in conjunction with my husband, Andrew (who has a lot more opinions on this sort of thing than I do).  Also, I know this category won’t take me long, because when you really know nothing about art, it doesn’t take long to go ‘ooh pretty’ or ‘nope, not my thing’.

In other words, I am a philistine.  But I am a philistine who votes!  So here we go!

Bastien Lecouffe Deharme has provided six works.  They are in a sort of oil painting style, and he likes an aesthetic I think of as a bit renaissance/ Dutch master, which has lots of deep shadows and use of light.  Two of them I really like, and a third is very good.  Three of them are absolutely generic fantasy covers.  Andrew thinks the ones I liked remind him a bit of artists like Brom or Michael Whelan.

Galen Dara feels a bit Art Nouveau, if Art Nouveau had a lot more aqua in it.  His work is a bit more stylised, but I like the movement in some of his figures.  Andrew thinks I am thinking of Alphonse Mucha, and now that I look at what he has googled, I think he’s right.  He also detects similarities with Frazer Irving.  He also likes the use of shapes and colour.  (Note that Andrew will always be biased in favour of an artist who uses a lot of aqua.) (Note that Andrew objects to this characterisation.).  We both really like the silhouetted girl dancing with fairies. I like five out of six of these, and love three of them.

John Picacio does nice, realist artwork, but it leaves me cold.  Andrew likes some of them, especially the girl with wings and the spider girl.  He also reckons that Picacio is more technically consistent than Dara or Deharme.  But a lot of it doesn’t grab him either.

Kathleen Jennings is riffing on children’s book illustrations from the Edwardian era.  Each picture is in a different style, so a couple of them evoke Beardsley, others feel very E.H. Shepherd, another Beatrix Potter.  We both adore all of them.  Just gorgeous, delicate, perfect work.  But I have a thing for silhouettes.

Sana Takeda does beautiful, very detailed pen and ink work with a wash of colour.  We get some Monstress art, some Dark Crystal art, and a portrait of Sherlock and Watson, a la Cumberbatch and Freeman.  It’s lovely stuff, but doesn’t capture my heart quite to the extent that Jennings does.  Andrew reckons she comes from a modern Japanese comic art background, but with a strong western inflection.

Victo Ngai comes endorsed by Andrew, who apparently nominated him on my behalf (I gave Andrew free rein over the Hugo sections that I had no opinion about).  He’s rather lovely, and again, fairly Beardsley.  He has read books entirely based on Ngai’s artwork on the cover (Andrew says not entirely, but it was the art that got his attention).

My ballot goes Jennings, Ngai, Takeda, Dara, Deharme, Picacio.  It’s possible that Ngai and Takeda are better artists than Jennings, but I *loved* Jennings’ illustrations, and very little visual art evokes that kind of emotion in me.

Andrew’s ballot goes Ngai, Takeda, Dara, Deharme, Jennings, Picacio.  This is because he is wrong.  (Andrew claims that this is no reflection on the artists’ skill, but is a reflection of personal taste.  Andrew’s personal taste is clearly dreadful.)

Fan artists to follow!

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