The gold standard
Going for gold As the winners of Spectrum 23 Awards are announced, Julia Sagar acknowledges the role of the longest-running fantasy art book series in existence
We find out what’s in store for the latest edition of Spectrum, the world’s longest running fantasy annual. Artists, judges and its editor spill the beans.
The winners of the 2016 Spectrum Awards have been announced, which means the highly anticipated 23rd Spectrum annual is in production. Available from November 2016, Spectrum 23 continues the bestselling series of annuals, showcasing the year’s most exciting creators of fantasy, science fiction, horror and surreal art from around the globe.
Spectrum has come a long way since the first annual was printed in 1993. Founded by Cathy and Arnie Fenner, the weighty tome is the longest-running fantasy art book series in existence and has evolved into an influential who’s who of the contemporary illustration world. “It provides a salon for works of this genre to be seen, as well as a forum and support system,” says illustrator and Spectrum 23 judge Terryl Whitlatch. “It’s a validation for art that, at times, is looked down upon by The Art Establishment.”
This year, says Spectrum editor John Fleskes – who took over in 2013 – readers can look forward to a revamped design and new chapter opener sections, alongside other developments. “As the artists grow to reflect today’s atmosphere, Spectrum grows right along with them,” says John, adding that this is why he started including artist profiles for the award recipients in Spectrum 21. “It was important to highlight the artists behind these amazing works, and to highlight the art community, which is the beating heart of Spectrum.”
Over 280 artists will feature in Spectrum 23. So what does it take to get into such a prestigious publication? According to Terryl, a healthy dose of unique, out-of-the-box thinking and creativity: “The technical skill was very high across the board, so we looked to see if the art actually and clearly communicated an idea, concept or story element,” she explains. “In other words,
did it fulfil any purpose, or was it merely created to ‘look pretty’?”
“The only trick, really, is to enter and to put your best work forward,” says illustrator David Palumbo, who served on the panel. “I recommend sending several pieces.”
This year, the awards ceremony was held at the historic New York home of the Society of Illustrators. In May, the cream of the fantasy art community gathered together to celebrate their common passion for stories and the fantastical. “It’s a chance to meet artists and fans, to share stories and grab drinks with old friends. It’s also a time to reflect on the last year’s work and get inspired for the next year’s. There’s really nothing quite like it,” says Victor Maury, who was named by the judges © as this year’s Rising Star.
“I was very surprised,” says Victor. “But after the initial shock, I was very happy, because this community’s support means a lot to me. It’s fuel for moving forward.”
You can find out more about the awards by visiting http://ifxm.ag/spect23.
(Above) Shanghai Childhood September, part of Kejun Zhao’s series on life in the Chinese city.
Arnie and Cathy Fenner pose with some of this year’s winners, along with John Fleske.
Wangjie Li’s Hunter in Snow is one of the many treats that await readers of Spectrum 23. The Spectrum 23 call for entries poster. Victor Maury’s Pride helped win him Spectrum’s Rising Star award.