Above: Master photographer Greg Preston’s portrait of Iain McCaig taken at SFAL3.

by Arnie Fenner

May 10th, many of us met in Kansas City for the Spectrum 21 awards ceremony during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live in the Midland Theater and today’s post can be seen as something of a follow-up to my previous MC contribution. You can view all of the award recipients at Tor.com (and congratulations to every finalists in each category: being in the top 5 ain’t chopped liver).

Cathy and I presented the 2014 Grand Master Award to this year’s honoree Iain McCaig. Following a few words, the announcement was made via a brief video Arlo Burnett put together for the event. Iain was in the theater, but didn’t know that he was going to receive the award (in previous years neither James Gurney or Brom were given prior warning: surprises are fun). Watching his silhouette sprint past the lighted bar in the back of the theater and down the aisle to the stage was, honestly, pretty magical. So for those unable to be in the audience that night, I thought I’d share my introduction to the award followed by some samples of Iain’s work.

As we get older it can be easy to forget that we all started out the same way; we were all kids once. We all judged books by their covers, saw nothing silly about heroes in spandex, and would happily sit through an hour of terrible acting and ridiculous stories to be able to watch 5 minutes of special effects. And as we put down our books or comics, as we walked out of the theater, we’d turn to our family or pals with a lopsided grin and say, “That’s what I want to do!”

And that is exactly what many of you sitting here tonight have done. You grew up to create the book covers and the games and the toys and the comics and the films and the statues—to create the art—that new generations thrill to. There are young people who looked wide-eyed at your art this weekend and walked out of the exhibit hall, nudging their buddy, saying, “That’s what I want to do!”

Every single artist that has received the Grand Master honor started out the same way, with the same hopes and aspirations we all share—and they have gone on to inspire and influence and encourage their fellow artists through the years. The award is not a coronation, it’s a celebration of the accomplishments of one of our own, of someone who once exclaimed, “That’s what I want to do!” This is a celebration of one of us.

Congratulations, Iain!
Above: David Bober of Helpful Bear snapped this photo of Iain backstage at the Midland Theater.