If we'd used similar rules for the fiction categories, we would have had a "Best Writer" award instead of "Best Novel," and Robert A. Heinlein would have won it every year from 1954 until his death, with maybe a few upset wins sprinkled in for Roger Zelazny and Ursula Le Guin when the New Wave was at its peak, and William Gibson when cyberpunk was the flavor of the month.
Past efforts to redress this problem have come to nothing, however. When they offered a Hugo for the best piece of artwork rather than best artist, no one nominated. So we're stuck with this award the way it is.
There are so many good artists out there, however, that I urge everyone who intends to nominate to try and look beyond last year's ballot when filling in this year's.
How about John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith? The "Big Three" of Tolkien illustrators are among the best known fantasy artists in the world today, and have been for many decades, and NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER BEEN NOMINATED FOR A HUGO! They haven't even made the ballot. Fantasy fans buy their Tolkien calendars in the hundreds of thousands, but seemingly forget all about them when the Hugo comes around. I think it's time we rectified that. Alan Lee had an especially good year in 2007 with his gorgeous illustrations for Tolkien's CHILDREN OF HURIN.
And there are so many news artists as well. Let me draw your attention to one of them, a guy named Michael Komarck. I first encountered Komarck a few years back when he stepped in to do a cover for the Meisha Merlin edition of TUF VOYAGING a week before the deadline, after the previous artist had taken a year and produced crap. Komarck did an amazing job in the short time he had, and his work has just improved since then. He did the cover for INSIDE STRAIGHT, the new Wild Cards book, and will do the rest of that series. He also did the cover the Fantasy Flight's art book, THE ART OF ICE & FIRE, and he's the one painting the Dabel Brothers series of limited edition Ice & Fire prints.
Here are few samples of his stuff. You can find a lot more on his website at http://www.komarckart.com/ Check it out for yourself.
I'll be nominating Komarck, Lee, Howe, and Nasmith for the Hugo this year.