The World Fantasy Awards are presented during the World Fantasy Convention and are selected by a mix of nominations from members of the convention and a panel of judges. The awards were established in 1975 and presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Traditionally, the awards took the form of a bust of H.P. Lovecraft sculpted by Gahan Wilson, however in recent years the trophy became controversial in light of Lovecraft’s more problematic beliefs. The Best Artist Award has been part of the award since its founding, when it was won by Lee Brown Coye. In 1980, the year Maitz received the award for his work, the convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland. The judges were Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Belknap Long, andrew j. offutt, Ted White, and Susan Wood.
After graduating from the Paier School of Art in 1975, Don Maitz broke into the field with a black and white illustration for and ad that appeared in Marvel’s Kull and the Barbarians. In 1976, he provided the cover for the Science Fiction Book Club edition of Leigh Brackett’s The Book of Skaith: The Adventures of Eric Stark as well as books by L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, and Lloyd Alexander.