BSFA Awards: Best Artwork

It’s that time of year again. At last night’s meeting, Ian Snell, the BSFA Awards Administrator, handed round forms to remind everyone to start nominating for the BSFA Awards. For any new members reading, it works like this: there are awards for Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Artwork; for Best Novel the work has to be published in the UK, otherwise they can be available anywhere; you can nominate as many things as you want in each category; the five in each category with the most nominations go forward to form the shortlist, which is subsequently voted on (by STV). In short, you don’t have to wait until the end of the year; you can nominate whenever you encounter something you think is worthy of shortlisting. Continuing the theme of last night’s meeting, I thought I’d throw up some potential artwork nominations.

The artwork award is open to any single science fictional or fantastic image that first appeared in 2006. Again, provided the artwork hasn’t been published before 2006 it doesn’t matter where it appears.

As with most things related to the BSFA, the definition of “single science fictional or fantastic image” tends to be pretty flexible. Admittedly, the last couple of winners (Pawel Lewandoski’s cover for Interzone 200, and Stephan Martiniere’s cover for Newton’s Wake) have been traditionally science-fictional landscapes, but in the same period nominees have also included a Frank Quitely double-spread from We3, and even a photograph of the Millau Bridge.

So here’s what’s been catching my eye.

Magazine covers, left to right: Interzone 206 (let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with a giant robot), Farthing 2 (although covers for the other issues have been nifty, too) and Postscripts 6 (probably the least exciting of the three, but nicely composed, I think). Illustrations for individual stories (such as those occasionally used by Strange Horizons, or as standard in recent issues of Interzone) are also worth looking at.

Book covers, left to right: US cover for River of Gods; Stephan Martiniere doing what he does best. I love the washed-out look of the Rainbows End cover (if you ignore the text all over it, anyway), and the UK cover of Black Juice struck me as being much more evocative of the stories it contains than the US or Australian editions. The cover for Nova Swing left me cold the first time I saw it, but it’s grown on me. Irene Gallo’s blog often features rather lovely covers … but fairly often they’re rather lovely covers for books that aren’t published yet.

And finally, whatever the merits of the film, I do love this poster:

Now, here’s where I throw it open to the floor. What artwork has been grabbing your attention this year? Don’t worry if you’re not a member; maybe someone who is will like your suggestion, and end up nominating it. That email address in full:

11 thoughts on “BSFA Awards: Best Artwork

  1. I hadn’t seen the US River of Gods cover.

    Hmm. I’m not convinced – it is rather grey (see also last year’s Newton’s Wake. It is also lightyears behind either of the UK covers and has an terrible strapline.

  2. Martin — I think I agree with you that the UK covers are better covers for the novel. But I like Martiniere’s cover as a piece of art.

    Kev — Video art seems a bit of a stretch to me! Although having said that, I seem to recall that a still (as opposed to a poster) from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was nominated once.

  3. Would a bad strapline disqualify the artwork?

    Just few off the top of my head. I’m afraid that they are all US publications since that is what I get to see:

    Donato: Thirteenth House

    Jon Foster: the Demon and the City
    (Really, just about anything from Night Shade)

    Charles Vess: Storm of Swords, both volumes, inside and out.

    Dan Dos Santos: Spirits Who Walk in Shadows (pub month Oct.)

  4. Irene: thanks for the comment!

    Would a bad strapline disqualify the artwork?

    Not as far as I’m concerned, though obnoxiously sized and laid-out titles can make it hard to judge the quality of the artwork. (I’m thinking of Daniel Abraham’s A Shadow in Summer here, to be honest.)

    As to the others, I think we have somewhat different tastes. :) Though I do like a lot of Nightshade’s covers (the one for Al Reynolds’ Zima Blue springs to mind), and the Vess covers for Storm of Swords are rather good. (Which reminds me: he did interior illustrations for Ladies of Grace Adieu, didn’t he? They’d be eligible.)

  5. Hi Niall,

    If the award is for the artwork, than people need to look past the design considerations. If the award is for the overall package, then everything is fair game and the designer should be awarded as well as the artist.

    As for SHADOW — I completely agree if it’s about experiencing the artwork…but as a book cover, it had to serve another function. I’m not trying to defend whether the SHADOW design was successful or not, but it is important to make the distinction. Above, Martin was penalizing the artist for concerns that were out of his control.

    I’m aware that UK and US sensibilities are often different. I’m glad we have both. :-) I just wanted to throw in a few names that poped into mind. (Without naming Tor covers, just to keep things clean.) The new Spectrum will be out in a few weeks, a lot of that work will will have printed in 06 since the artwork is often done 8 months to year ahead of publication dates. It might be a good resource to use. And, of course, there is the new UK magazine IMAGINE FX. Most that is video game art, but I think some book/magazine artists are in it as well. (I’m just basing that off a sample issue I have.)

    Good luck!


  6. Stephen Martinierre, the artist for the River of Gods and Rainbow’s End books is one of my favorites. His book covers are always very eye catching.

  7. Irene: Sorry, my wording was slightly confusing there. The award is for the artwork, not the overall cover design. But Martin was comparing the US and UK covers for River of Gods in terms of overall design. IMAGINE FX sounds interesting — video game art is fair game for this award, after all.

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