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I want to paint and assemble minis full time.


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Hey duders

 

I've been selling painted minis since February of 2013 or so and I started actively seeking commission work around September, so far I've undertaken about six projects, Three single minis, two squads for a game(one was free so hardly counts,) and I've been in limbo with a project for an entire Warhammer army but the buyer won't come through with sending the miniatures so I've been sitting with 1/3 of the money for the commission and nothing to work on and it's been about two months of emailing back and forth trying to get this to go. But at any rate it's been nice because it's basically funding this hobby, but I want to do this full time, I want a sustainable living out of painting and assembling miniatures and terrain the trouble is getting clients.

 

So far the only advertising I've done was a post on Reddit, my blog and ebay sales where I pimp out my blog in every listing and to everyone who purchases a mini from me, this has netted me a big fat 3 clients! :(

 

I'm just not sure where to progress from here, I've considered starting a youtube channel and doing painting videos or tutorials for basic stuff but all of that already exists and the audience for that stuff isn't that huge to begin with. I don't know if a website would help or not and I wouldn't even know where to begin. Whenever I post my painted work on a forum or reddit I link to my blog but that hasn't done any good so far.

 

Just overall sort of lost as to what I should do from here, I don't know if anyone here does commission work even part time let alone full time but it doesn't hurt to ask, any ideas or thoughts from anyone are always nice to see.

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Have you tried painting and putting items for sale on ebay, with a message that you do armies and custom work? Blogs are nice, but people don't go there looking for stuff to buy. 

 

Also there's a LOT of horror stories out there about painters who take money and figures and vanish, so folks can be a little skittish about investing in an unknown. 

 

Check out theminiaturespage.com.  You can get into the directory of painters, buy a banner ad for your service, or with a minimal monthly membership post ads in the sales forums. 

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I would make up some flyers and see if you can post them around your Friendly Local Game Stores. If people see a real person, they might be willing to fork over the cash, plus the stores would like the sales if you buy your stuff from them.

Edited by CaptainPete
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Good luck. It's a field that's VERY hard to get into (full time), because there's so many people trying to do the same thing. There's no qualifications, no oversight, no centralized way to find painters to fill requests.

 

Everything is word of mouth.

 

Add to that that it's almost impossible to get a steady stream of clients that will pay enough to actually support you. There's a huge disconnect between what a painter wants and what a client is willing to pay. The $ per hour on even high end commissions ends up far below minimum wage. The only people that I know of that are actually doing this full time are A) pros - competition painters. Not even sure if they actually do it for a living. B) studios - and not some person that whips up a logo in photoshop and a clever screen name - I mean like Golem Studios. And they're a bunch of people working together, and usually have supplemental sources of income (seminars, classes, dvds, storefronts).

 

It's not impossible, but it is quite a road to traverse.

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... and I've been in limbo with a project for an entire Warhammer army but the buyer won't come through with sending the miniatures so I've been sitting with 1/3 of the money for the commission and nothing to work on and it's been about two months of emailing back and forth trying to get this to go...

Be prepared for this to usually be the case. Doing this stuff for a living is quite difficult.

 

Don't get me wrong. I love you guys. I love the gaming community. But we as a species are notoriously cheap and unreliable customers. At least for anything new, or when it comes to allowing our egos to rest long enough to shell out cash for something somebody else has painted. We always think we can do it better.

 

If you click on my link below, you'll see my store no longer exists. Tried modeling and painting and all that jazz - for money - for a couple of years. All it got me was a fat bill from the State of California for taxes they think I owe them after losing my shirt.

 

I'm not trying to dissuade you, understand, or ruin your fun. Just using my own experience as a cautionary tale. This is a harder game than it seems. Even really excellent painters and modelers can go nuts and broke trying to get anywhere. There's a reason we all know the names of the handful who do make good doing this. Because they are such an exception.

Edited by Bruunwald
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It can be done and I know at least two guys that do it. The first can be found here at http://www.gmmstudios.net/#about

 

The other one is Aaron Lovejoy although his website http://www.prestigeminis.com is no longer active. I don't know if he decided to get a regular job or has changed his website.

 

Both of these guys use airbrushes heavily and in Aaron's case I know that he has a specific amount per hour that he needs to make. So if you agree on a job for $500 Aaron will complete the job in 20 hours because he might want to be making $25 an hour (that's an example only).

 

Its hard and I would really discourage it.

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The problem with any artistic endeavour is that everyone wants to do it for a living and everyone thinks they could do it themselves, for nothing, on the weekend.

 

So what you need to have is a client base and a means of painting so fast you make minimum wage. You need both of those if you really want to do this for a living. If you don't have both, you'll save yourself some pain by just going with "hobby that pays for itself".

 

I'm not trying to discourage you from doing what you love, but there's no quicker way to kill the love than by having it turn into a monster that eats your life.

 

That said, if you're really set on it, I suggest looking for a market other than gamers. A masterfully painted figurine is probably worth more as a work of art than as a game piece.

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OK, here is some advice can give to you: Cast a wide net. Advertise everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, forums, local game stores) . Don't expect a ton of clients to jump on immediately when you do, you might only get a couple of inquiries.

 

Show your work. Don't just say you can do something, back your words up! I know a few people that say they are commission painters and only have a couple of tired pieces they have shown everyone for years as their portfolio.

 

If you are going to paint armies (I'm going to assume primarily 40K), then get yourself an army and get into the community with your awesome paint jobs and put it on the table. Your showcase is in front of you, you are engaging your market and people will always stop by and check out what is happening. Playing the game is an event that people watch. Perhaps the opponent is playing a grey horde against you. You could always bring it up to him that you paint for a living. Slip him a couple of cards at the beginning of the game and let the magic happen. I could care less about the game currently, but I've been showing up to various stores lately with my army that I've won several awards with and it brings me business.

 

Oh, make cards. 

 

 

The problem with any artistic endeavour is that everyone wants to do it for a living and everyone thinks they could do it themselves, for nothing, on the weekend.

 

So what you need to have is a client base and a means of painting so fast you make minimum wage. You need both of those if you really want to do this for a living. If you don't have both, you'll save yourself some pain by just going with "hobby that pays for itself".

 

I'm not trying to discourage you from doing what you love, but there's no quicker way to kill the love than by having it turn into a monster that eats your life.

 

That said, if you're really set on it, I suggest looking for a market other than gamers. A masterfully painted figurine is probably worth more as a work of art than as a game piece.

I agree with all of this. I try to charge so that I make at least 10.00 an hour.

 

It also takes a special kind of person to not hate themselves after jumping in the deep end with commission painting. Most people burn out rather quickly. To survive, you must learn to compartmentalize yourself from work and hobby.

 

I paint upwards of 80+ hours a week for various people and companies. While I enjoy my job, it is not my hobby. Every once in a while I will get a small chance to paint something for myself which is like a small vacation. That is when I actually enjoy what I do. That only happened twice last year though, and out of the thousands of minis I painted, that really isn't much of a vacation.

 

What I'm trying to say here is this: Be careful what you wish for. This lifestyle is stressful, full of sacrifice, cutthroat and at times miserable. There is no glory whatsoever in it. 

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OK, here is some advice can give to you: Cast a wide net. Advertise everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, forums, local game stores) . Don't expect a ton of clients to jump on immediately when you do, you might only get a couple of inquiries.

 

Show your work. Don't just say you can do something, back your words up! I know a few people that say they are commission painters and only have a couple of tired pieces they have shown everyone for years as their portfolio.

 

If you are going to paint armies (I'm going to assume primarily 40K), then get yourself an army and get into the community with your awesome paint jobs and put it on the table. Your showcase is in front of you, you are engaging your market and people will always stop by and check out what is happening. Playing the game is an event that people watch. Perhaps the opponent is playing a grey horde against you. You could always bring it up to him that you paint for a living. Slip him a couple of cards at the beginning of the game and let the magic happen. I could care less about the game currently, but I've been showing up to various stores lately with my army that I've won several awards with and it brings me business.

 

Oh, make cards. 

 

 

 

Okay questions for you.

 

1. Did you have to trademark your logo/name?

 

2. Do you have a business license for doing this?

 

I don't really want to paint armies but I feel like that's the only way to do this full time, what I have in mind when painting an army is that I would paint the army in grades, so the large units and squads that are all the same sculpts over and over, those are the ones you airbrush or speed paint by just doing base coats, some detail and then a wash or two and then  the generals or special units are the ones that you charge a premium for and spend the most time working on. I don't know if this is common practice throughout the commission "community" but it's what I see at least one of the larger painting companies does and it seems to work wonders for them.

 

I would rather paint single minis for RPG's or displays but that just doesn't seem like a very big market so I don't know if that's viable.

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Understand that if you get into the bulk commission market, you're competing with people like Fernando Enterprises. (The people I know who have used their services seem quite happy, btw.) To get the business, you'll need to offer better value for money.

 

That could be better prices for the same quality, quality unavailable from other bulk painters, better customer service, or simply a more local business for people who don't want to send figures to Sri Lanka. But you need to know how you're going to compete.

 

As to legal requirements for starting a business, those vary depending on location and this isn't the right place to find out. Talk to your local chamber of commerce or a local business lawyer. And for trademarks, talk to a trademark lawyer (though I never heard of a requirement to trademark).

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And show us your work, post in the wip and show off sections of the forum.

 

I do and will continue to do so when I get new projects, I have two things to post later today. I'm pretty new here so the chaos lord I posted the other day is my first show off post.

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And show us your work, post in the wip and show off sections of the forum.

 

I do and will continue to do so when I get new projects, I have two things to post later today. I'm pretty new here so the chaos lord I posted the other day is my first show off post.

 

 

I don't always catch everything that hits the WIP and Show Off threads. So here is the real question, how long did it take you to paint that Chaos Lord and is that an example of what you consider to be your best work? If someone commissioned you to paint the same piece to that same level how much would you charge. Remember you are trying to make a living doing this think about what your expenses are going to be and how many pieces like this you are going to have to paint to do that.

 

I, personally, don't know anyone that is making a living as a show piece painter right now. The only ones I am aware of that are pulling it off are army painters. That certainly doesn't mean that they aren't out there though and I'm not counting staff painters since they are not self-employed.

Edited by Heisler
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Every once in a while I will get a small chance to paint something for myself which is like a small vacation. That is when I actually enjoy what I do. That only happened twice last year though, and out of the thousands of minis I painted, that really isn't much of a vacation.

 

Okay, so ... that puts things in perspective.  That means I only have to paint two miniatures this year and I can feel pleased.

Edited by Carnacki the Ghost Finder
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I don't consider the chaos lord to be my BEST work but a ton of people seemed to like it more than anything else I've ever shown even though it's not what I liked the most, which is something I have difficulty with, identifying what is most appealing and why. But for that I would charge about $65, if I didn't spend a lot of time trying new things and fiddling around on him it would have taken only a few hours of actual work, not including waiting for things to cure and dry which I can work on other things while that's happening. For single minis I do 35$ generally, the latest commission I did was $40 because shipping is $5 and I don't want to be paying for shipping out of the labor cost.

 

I've compared these prices to that of larger companies and my prices are actually lower and for what is in my opinion superior quality, most people seem to charge for painting and assembly separately so the paint work for a single character at a higher level ends up being around $30 in the examples I found, while the assembly is added onto that, but I just do a flat $35 because assembly is never time consuming. It ends up being around $10 an hour of work and I believe that's above Oregon's current minimum wage.

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