But an illustration either grabs you or it doesn't.
I am so not an expert, but I've learned a ton about art during my time here. An image tells a story. News to me. I'm sure there's all kinds of other nuances. An image can make you feel. An image is a thousand words. Etc.
Let me take my inexpert opinion even further:
What's a judge to do when faced with something like this?
At first glance, you feel how you feel about it.
I was confused at first. I found the sexy part pretty quickly, (or is that pain?), but the image keeps going. The face seems artificial. The pink is bold. Her face is breaking into bits. The tiny woman's face is also breaking into bits. There's groves in the bits of the face. (this is the cover for a dubstep remix song, so there's your record grooves.) There's a ceramic? cracking triangle. It's backlit...
Now - get a dozen such images.
KD used to read the finalists over and over. She'd stew on them. Decide which resonated, and which faded. I'd imagine with an image that's even more difficult, especially if given many, many of them every quarter.
I envy the judges because they get to see great work, but I don't envy them having to narrow down those choices to three winners.