Friday, April 27, 2012

What is a fan artist? What is a semiprozine? What is "poorly paid"?

There are some grey areas, here. After this year's Worldcon is over, I'll pester next year's Hugo committee about these questions.

What is a fan artist?

As far as I can tell, a fan artist is a science fiction or fantasy fan who produces art. As far as I can tell, fan art can be in any medium and can be original or derivative.

As far as I can tell, a fan artist does not have to be an artist who produces art related to copyrighted work or franchises like Dr Who, Harry Potter, a Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, though those artists are certainly included. I think that the copyright holders usually object to derivative artwork if it is for sale. I think that they generally don't care if the artwork is not profitable.

What is a science fiction or fantasy fan?

Interesting. Fans are defined for such awards as the Australian Ditmars as "natural persons being active in fandom." Which usually means they have attended or otherwise been involved in fan conventions, production of fanzines, or genre-related websites. Hence the inclusion of artists who exhibit at science fiction or fantasy conventions.

What is a semi-prozine?  (ie. what constitutes poorly paid?)

Fan art must be unpaid or poorly paid, such as in fanzines or semi-prozines. But where is the line drawn between semi-prozines and prozines when it comes to cover art or internal illustrations? SFWA defines a prozine by the amount per word paid to its writer contributors, but I can't find an amount to be paid to the illustrators.

Clarkesworld is considered a prozine by SFWA, a semi-prozine by past Hugo committees, and it pays $100 for a cover illustration. Apex magazine, also somewhere on the border of pro and semi-pro, pays $50 for digital reprint rights for cover art.

Professional artists might ask for something in the order of $1000 and up for an original cover that would make them eligible for the Professional Artist Hugo Category. But it's rude of me to start demanding to know what people have been paid, and so I'm not sure what to do about this rule except to err on the side of caution.

And what about those aforementioned fan artists exhibiting at conventions? What happens when their work sells at the end-of-con auction for more than they might have received from a semi-prozine? How much money to they have to make, or what percentage of their income must be from art, before they are shunted up into the Pro Artist category?

The Pro Artist category definition is "for artists of works related to science fiction or fantasy released in the previous calendar year."

Which includes all the fan artists, doesn't it?


Please correct me in the comments if I've said or assumed wrong things. Like I said, I'll start harrassing actual knowledgeable people once Chicon 7 is over.


  1. I've just been emailed by one of the artists who said: "In my experience artists apply the term fan art to works based on already existing works."

    My reply to her was that...yes..."fan art" could be considered the natural arty equivalent to "fanfic".

    BUT, Brad W Foster won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist for things like his cover illustrations of fanzine File 770 ( ), and these are original works, or so it seems to me.

    It's just that they fulfil the unpaid requirement and the produced-by-fans requirement. Right?

  2. OK, commenting on myself again, here.

    I have an expert opinion, here (though not directly from the LoneStarCon mouth, yet):

    "A fan is anyone who says they're a fan of science fiction or fantasy.

    It can also refer to a member of the fan community, which basically means they must be communicating with others fans we know.

    A fan artist is one of those people described above who creates are and goes unpaid for it, or is paid only in copies of the publication.

    A semiprozine only exists in terms of the Hugos. As Wikipedia says:

    A "semiprozine" is defined for the award as a magazine that meets at least two of five criteria given. These criteria are: that the
    magazine had an average press run of at least one thousand copies per issue, that it paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication, that it provided at least half the income of any one person, that it had at least fifteen percent of its total space occupied by advertising, and that announced itself to be a semiprozine."

    So, what I'm ACTUALLY going to do about this is label anyone who receives/receives any cash payment as "semipro"; this will include small presses who pay semipro rates as well as sales to actual semiprozines.

    If it turns out that ANY cash payment means exclusions, I'll be able to use that tag to haul out artists who are then ineligible.

    For now, I will continue to list anyone who I consider has been paid less than pro rates!