1. Do you paint or sculpt miniatures?
I try to do both, I see it as a practitioning skill that I feel needs to create a personal mark on what was ordinarily a "vanilla" model (standard cookie cutter thing straight off the presses) then make a story around it.
2. What led you to the hobby of miniatures?
My brother collected SM when I was at a young age, I then started getting interested and bought some myself to paint up. Unfortunately the expenses meant I could only really afford a bunch of second hand Eldar and the 3rd-ed Eldar Codex. It started from there, really- I phased out at some points, picked up a few SoB and Marines as a kid, expanded the Eldar I had as gifts from special occasions. Again, it was the prices that turned off my parents from buying me hobby stuff and I always saw it as a luxury product. In regards to conversion and painting, mistakes are really punishable upon the wallet so a newbie (especially me in my early days) found it really hard to convert or paint well if they've had zero experience in sculpting/paintstripping. Making tanks and such using the resources at hand and making it look 40k table standard became a necessity for me to do due to my low budget and I enjoyed it because of it. Like Dies Irae, I also loved Legos and I feel there was some connection there with 40k and how I was creative because I loved building things.
3. What do you love about the hobby? What do you do mostly?
I really like the idea of a dystopian human empire beset by aliens and they try to fight their superior technology/horrible ideologies/crazy alien genes with numbers, blind futile faith and lost ramshackle technology. I try to create my own custom factions and stories within these guidelines because it makes me feel like I care about the universe and its canon as its creators intended. I like making miniatures to reflect my factions I create. There's holes here and there in the universe which some writers try to fill but for some I feel like they don't need filling- Black Library for instance with some books (not to say writing 40k books is bad but say when they try to retell a story as they see it and it gets printed as canon).. I feel the writing side though has been hit with constant retcons that also work really badly with the universe as set by the original designers which make me feel like "is this just only a game for 13 year olds if the writing is trying to drive me into something like Dragonball Z to work with?". 40k was to me a 'grimdark' universe where success is measured in blood and sanity (all of the written genocides and stuff in the books) while heroes came from your average Joe (or his alien counterpart) with special abilities on both sides to smooth out their attack or defence.
Another game similar to 40k is 'Emperor of the Fading Suns' and the 'Dune' universe. I'd check them out because they influenced me a lot in how I think 40k should feel on similar lines.
4. Do you dedicate yourself only to the painting/sculpting part of the hobby?
Pretty much, I've gleaned over the rules and try to tinker with a 'viable' force though that can seem like an oddball but deadly in the right circumstances. I think the 40k rules need some work though to make other vehicles and units viable. The reason why I say this is because someone into the hobby might buy a useless unit, paint it, customise it and love it, but when they come to play it with their friends they lose utterly because of it which gives them a sour feeling. I've heard of one guy who left because he made a "freakshow" list of Witch Hunters (Repentia, Arco-Flags, Deathcults, etc) and spent so much on the army, money, time and painting wise- got smashed in morally and on the tabletop because they weren't viable rules-wise from everyone else- then quit and sold everything after..
5. Why do you paint/sculpt miniatures?
Faction building, rather than gaming mostly. I like to make custom characters/units and buildsets within the rules too.
6. How did you learn to paint/sculpt?
Scratch experience, loved Dok Butcha'z Konvershun Klinik in the White Dwarf magazine where I looked for tips but when that was pulled my heart sank, then it became a glorified catalog and I stopped buying. Da Waaagh! (the website, that is) is great for looking at scratchbuilds via sculpting (a bit if they are Orkz, but I love Orkz) and I use some tips from that site as well as this one for painting/scratchbuilds. I also scout some other sites for tips and ideas, but mostly through search engines.
7. What do you do when painting miniatures?
Undercoat white/black, gradually build up colours as required, masking tape if you want to cover small bits on tanks. All paints are thinned beforehand to keep colours well, thin. Thinly apply ink wash, build up highlights with appropriate colours using very small brushes, see how it looks, modify as appropriate.
8. What tools do you use in your work?
Magnification Lamp, PC w/ Internet is also optional for images to use for working off what others have made as inspiration.
Brush, small brush, detail brush, big brush used as tank brush, several old brushes for weathering/drybrushing, paints (citadel, testing the vallejo range), ink washes, water cup.
Green Stuff (abbreviated GS), Vaseline- it is a lifeblood of sculpting as GS then doesn't stick to hands. Various metal tools to mold green stuff, green stuff casting my own sculpture requires some sort of containment thing and heavy thing like a penny to keep it stuck there, sharp things to poke holes, surgeon knife, stanley knife, fine saw, hacksaw, plasticard of most sizes..
Pen/Pencil, Notepad and Laptop/PC
Fairy Power Spray, spray painted models (from someone else) and leave them in sealed tub, remove paint now at a consistency with a sort of 'skin' using cocktail sticks or sharp thing to poke holes (long and thin). Clean with water and good as new.
I don't buy straight from GW or use their modelling tools, except for their Citadel paints which come from my LFGS. Had a 'Fine Saw' from them that ended up really badly made, and their brushes didn't last long either.
9. What is the importance of these tools in your work? Can you do without them?
Can a painter paint without a brush.. he could but dang it would look horrible
I need mah tools.
10. Do you work in silence, or do you prefer certain environments while working?
I like some ambient atmosphere, television can work or music in the background sometimes but nothing intrusive. I recall in school there was an annoying kid who would always keep pestering me to paint my stuff to which I'd say 'no' and he'd keep at it because he was too enthusiastic to which I stopped thinking about painting at school. Later on he promoted himself to class idiot and his pestering and 'jokes' became more malicious to which he was a loose cannon around everyone.
As an adult I only paint either alone or in the company of friends or family. The risk of also losing models in GW stores and meeting the annoying brand of kids turns me off from bringing lots of stuff to paint there so I don't bother going. They seem more like 'school groupie' places also. If I wanted to meet new people via painting, I would have to make sure it felt more like a paint studio with people who really want to learn rather than a 'let's learn painting' class.. surrounded by redshirts trying to offer me more paints to which the answer would be 'no'..
11. Do you feel a need for inspiration? If yes, can you describe how you feel inspired and by what?
Yes- every culture known to man I try and absorb in some way- Aztecs, Mayans, Lakota, Romans, Mongols, Ancient China, Feudal Japan, Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, etc etc.. I guess I'm a culture nut. I then try and blend traits from such cultures into my created factions backstories as they are all sons of man which I work through the Imperium's diversity (though Roman/Greek appears as a main trait but that's due to the setting, plus it can be worked with if you say make a chapter based off Native America and use the Deathwing as an example, or an Asia chapter using the Mongol inspired White Scars).
I also try to make the fiction fit a more 'reason' tone, sure you have warp magic and stuff but it can be killed with applications of gun and fire- Mary Sue characters in 40k are like the anti-inspiration for me.. it's all about the lone guardsman who blams the head off an Ork Warboss out of luck. When something is crazy powered as author inserts I just feel 'why' given that 40k was based around a dying empire with millions of warlords/xenos vying for power not "power levels" with exploding planets. When I feel writers do something akin to the dying empire I get inspired, when writers do the opposite.. I do not because it is base wish fulfilment/power fantasy on a primitive level done since time immemorial.
Da Waaaagh! website also inspires me to do Orkz, *everyone* can work with Orkz because of their crazy technology, feel and psychic abilities- I have crazy ideas but no wallet unfortunately
Some factions don't inspire me like the Tau Empire, they come across as too "Japanese" without being "alien" whilst also looking like those flat faced blue Star Wars trade aliens (Neimoidians). To me they seem like a cash grab when the new Star Wars movies came out (the Hammerhead looks like a Trade Federation tank, robot armies..) and an anime wave hit America/Europe (hence Gundam influence, robots, Asian voice actor style for them in all the games, high-tech stereotypes..). I like their allies though. Necrons seem to have gone the same way from being creepy Cthulhu robots to space Egyptians, which doesn't work for me because as we know they're aliens, not humans.
One could argue that 40k is just a bed of tropes but I just feel the main theme is "space human empire that is dying from scary aliens".. make the aliens scarier and the humans more desperate.
12. Would you define your work as creative? If yes, why?
I would say yes, it requires a lot of input before I begin something I am happy with and I make stories about ideas and units in 40k.
13. Would you define your work as art? If yes, why?
Again, if something is creative I would say it is something of an art. It's probably not going to be a Picasso or something but when I get it 'right' to me and others it's still nice to look at and I do go through a lot of effort using my own craft/living as a writer to create something for others to read about.
14. Does working on pieces made by others detract from you seeing your hobby as art?
More a question for professional artists who sell their craft but as I am not an artist who sells his craft I feel there is some individual aspect to making your stuff and self improving, but if an artist wants to sell it wouldn't detract me from how I saw him or my art in the slightest. In fact I have toyed with ordering commissions from really skilled artists, then using that model as an improvement base. In terms of writing, if someone asks for help writing or working with a character or so on I'll throw some ideas their way on how to work with their ideas without any ill thoughts about my own art.
15. How would you compare the miniature hobby with other arts?
It gets a stigma in from the way some people view it as something for 'geeks' or 'old men'. I feel that painting/writing/sculpting something grandeously seems to wow people but in some other people they don't understand how much effort has gone into it, perhaps thinking 'you're doing this over a universe for toy soldiers? what' when it is more than that.
16. Are you working in a community of miniaturists?
Nope, not presently unless you mean Relicnews which I like to hang out in places, mostly inhabiting the Backstory/Paint & Model section.
17. What is the role of this community in your work?
I feel they offer critique and ideas to see if my ideas and such works in their minds, if it does, I know I've done something right, if not, I try and fix it/learn something
18. Do you compete with your work? If yes why?
A writer will always try to improve so yeah I compete with myself to make it better, same with painting and sculpting, the feeling of accomplishment that can also be passed down to other generations too as other people will attest. Do I compete with others in writing competitions? A bit, like 'I wrote this thing, what do you guys think', with painting competitions, no and with gaming tournaments, again no.
19. What do others think of your hobby?
When I was at school? Anyone who did 40k was shunned for being a nerd/geek and was harassed because of it. Others introduced to 40k dropped because of this, the hangers on had either invested too much or were special needs children, some viewed it as a lingering shame (some boy was photographed and his picture uploaded onto the GW website which caused 'hawhawhaw'). I then didn't associate miniatures at school naturally due to the really bad atmosphere.
At home? My family likes me doing it, they don't like the prices though.
At university? With fellow adults really well, although I couldn't click well with the ones who just saw 40k as a means to game competitively.
At the LFGS? Really well, the guy who manages there is a champ when it comes to fluff and ideas.
20. How do strangers react when they learn of about your hobby?
I just tell them I paint miniatures, instead of 'toy soldiers'. I don't invest that much time into it so it's not like I'm an obsessed guy or hoarder and they seem to accept it
With other flufflords I bat ideas for armies and wonder 'what if xenos X was like this', etc. It also helps with another hobby of mine which is game designing and theorising in my spare time.
If you have any other remarks concerning the hobby, please feel free to mention them.
Only that the lore should remain consistant, things shouldn't be too powerful or obvious cash grabs, certain things shouldn't be done to create an environment that alienates those who enjoy a setting and feel like playing and creating stuff in it. I feel this is why Dawn of War is successful because Relic I can see really cares about the IP and you can tell they're really enjoying it working with GW, whereas GW I see will often rubber stamp something for money because they're a business.