The Ditmar Awards are named for Australian fan Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Founded in 1969 as an award to be given by the Australian National Convention, during a discussion about the name for the award, Jenssen offered to pay for the award if it were named the Ditmar. His name was accepted and he wound up paying for the award for more years than he had planned.
The Best Australian Fantasy/SF Artist category was not one of the original Ditmar Award categories in 1969, and the award had several names after it was introduced. The first art awards given by the Ditmar Awards occurred in 1980 when the category was called Best Australian Fantasy/SF Artist and was won by Marilyn Pride. Over the years, the category has changed titles and direction several times, sometimes being for “Best Australian SF or Fantasy Artist,” sometimes being for Best SF or Fantasy Artist, without concern about origin, sometimes being specifically for Best Fan Artist, and once being for Best Australian SF or Fantasy Artist, Cartoonist, or Illustrator. There have also been times that the award has disappeared or replaced by an away for Best Artwork (or given in addition to a Best Artwork Award. The most recent Best Fan Artist Award was presented in 2016, with Best Artwork being awarded as recently as 2018.
As a child, Marilyn Pride was inspired by the films of Ray Harryhausen and taught herself how to paint. She won the Crichton Award for her book Australian Dinosaurs, which she wrote and illustrated, and went on to follow it with two additional books, More Australian Dinosaurs and Dinosaurs of Australia.
In addition to her own artwork, Pride has taught classes on book illustration techniques.
Over the years, Pride has occasionally worked in the film industry, making creatures for the 1984 film Razorback and working as a model maker for Dark City, The Matrix Reloaded, and Superman Returns, building Lex Luthor’s train set for the last of those.
In 1982, Pride was a special guest at Syncox ’82 in Sydney. She was a Guest of Honour at Kinkon 2 in Melbourne in 1986 and that same year, she, as part of a team with Lewis Morley and Nick Stathopoulos won a four-way DUFF race to travel to ConFederation in Atlanta. In 1994, she was a Guest of Honour at Con Fusion ’94. At Swancon 2001, Pride was one of the Australian Guests of Honour at the Australian Natcon. She was a Guest at Continuum 1 in Melbourne in 2003 and in 2011 she was a guest of honour at Conflux 7 in Canberra, where she won the first E.G. Harvey Award for Australian Speculative Fiction Art for her work “Carnosaur Game World.”
Pride won the inaugural artist award from the Ditmars in 1980, defeating Bevan Casey, Chris Johnston, Rob McGough, John Packer, and Jane Taubman. Pride would win the year each year from 1980 through 1983.
Steven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.