The Hugo Awards created the category of Best Professional Artist in 1955. The recognition is well warranted, given that book covers and magazine illustrations have set the tone of speculative fiction as much as the writing itself.
There have been 17 different winners over the years, with some artists winning more than once. The most recent member of this elite group, artist John Picacio, put together a portfolio of the work of all of them at Tor.com. It’s a real stunner.