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Advice on starting a painting group


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I'm looking at starting a monthly get together with friends next month.  Any advice, tips, tricks, life hacks, etc to help it become a successful recurring event are appreciated.  All involved already have figures and supplies.  My goals in this are to be social now that I'm divorced instead of becoming a hermit, get some figures painted, and generally enjoy hobby time with friends.  Added bonus, as we complete figures, paint time can become game time.

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  • Set a time and day and keep to it. Do your best to avoid recurring events that sweep up the people you want to come, but realize that painting will always conflict with something. Over time, if you're consistent, people will schedule around the painting. If you move around to miss stuff, you won't become the go-to that they schedule around.
  • Don't be discouraged if you have limited attendance for the first year or so. When Kris started CMPA, he just kept scheduling and coming to the store and eventually other people started showing up. The same thing happened when that store closed and we had to move the group meeting elsewhere. Persistence is key.
  • I would recommend that you schedule the event over a mealtime and then go out for food in the middle. Talking over food will make it more of a social event. And getting up after a few hours and moving around can make RSIs less likely.
  • Discourage music or audiobooks or whatever. Talking is likely to be more interesting than whatever somebody would like to play.
  • Try to maintain the kind of tone that we have on these boards. No politics, no religion, no personal attacks, and be really open to new painters. Whenever somebody wanders by and looks interested, we tell them what we're doing and invite them to join. They basically never do that right then (though we could accommodate them if they did), but over time you'll build a rep as welcoming and people will plan to be there the next month.
  • Be nice to the store (and I do recommend meeting in a store, for exposure). Buy stuff there when possible, even if it's a bit more expensive.
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1 hour ago, Doug Sundseth said:
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  • Try to maintain the kind of tone that we have on these boards. No politics, no religion, no personal attacks, and be really open to new painters. Whenever somebody wanders by and looks interested, we tell them what we're doing and invite them to join. They basically never do that right then (though we could accommodate them if they did), but over time you'll build a rep as welcoming and people will plan to be there the next month.
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This is really important.  You have to look up and make eye contact and smile when people come by. If you are busy with your head down, or joking with friends and ignoring the new guy then people get the impression it is a private club and they aren't welcome.  

 

Make a nice sign to hang in the store.  It can just be a neatly printed sheet of paper, but include the times and dates, and your contact info.  Mention that newbies are welcome and people should bring their supplies.  

 

 

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If you're meeting in a store, it's not a bad idea to also be actively helpful if you see somebody browsing through the miniatures.  Given that there's a group there painting the things, people may assume (perhaps rightly) that you are better experts of the store's product then the store itself.  While being unpaid assistants may not necessarily be part of the plan initially, it's not a bad niche to carve out - and if it helps the store move some product, it ought to make them happy. 

 

Miniature painting is an easy hobby to sell, it's just that it attracts a certain number of... less-than-social beings sometimes.  The best way to sell it is to demonstrate in practice how much fun it is to be a part of, and that means a lot of friendly smiling and being approachable - which also means, almost by default, you might wind up becoming the unpaid assistants anyway since everyone likes to ask friendly people about stuff. 

 

I'll note here that I've never been part of a painting group or painted at a store - but I can say that my experience with the GW gamer/painters who frequented the local places some years back did an exemplary job of completely unselling me on their hobby by being extraordinary jerks.  So I assume that being the opposite will probably have much better results.

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2 hours ago, Doug Sundseth said:
  • Discourage music or audiobooks or whatever. Talking is likely to be more interesting than whatever somebody would like to play.
  •  
  • Be nice to the store (and I do recommend meeting in a store, for exposure). Buy stuff there when possible, even if it's a bit more expensive.

These are the only two points where I disagree with Mr. Sundseth - and your mileage may vary.

 

I find that instrumental music works just fine, playing in the background - and can help people focus. Avoid things with singing though - it can distract, rather than help focus. (I tend to play Amazon's 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music.)

 

In general, I would say to avoid running painting sessions at a store as though it were the plague unless the store is sponsoring the painting session.

 

I would actually recommend painting at a fast food restaurant over painting at a store. (Not just hyperbole - I love painting at BK and Wendy's.... Megan and I have spent many happy hours quietly painting, surrounded by the smell of hamburgers. ::P: )

 

My dislike of running painting sessions at a store are partly a prejudice based on unpleasant experiences at a couple of stores. (One had an owner suggested it and invited us, his manager disagreed and did his best to make it uncomfortable. Net result - more sales to the mail order companies, and less for the store when the painting moved to my apartment. Kind of the opposite result to the one the owner desired. )

 

Another store was kind of used as a day care by one parent, with predictable results.

 

If you do run at a store, he is absolutely right - try to buy something every week. Be it paint, a brush, or a miniature.

 

The Auld Grump

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25 minutes ago, buglips*the*goblin said:

If you're meeting in a store, it's not a bad idea to also be actively helpful if you see somebody browsing through the miniatures.  Given that there's a group there painting the things, people may assume (perhaps rightly) that you are better experts of the store's product then the store itself.  While being unpaid assistants may not necessarily be part of the plan initially, it's not a bad niche to carve out - and if it helps the store move some product, it ought to make them happy. 

 

Miniature painting is an easy hobby to sell, it's just that it attracts a certain number of... less-than-social beings sometimes.  The best way to sell it is to demonstrate in practice how much fun it is to be a part of, and that means a lot of friendly smiling and being approachable - which also means, almost by default, you might wind up becoming the unpaid assistants anyway since everyone likes to ask friendly people about stuff. 

 

I'll note here that I've never been part of a painting group or painted at a store - but I can say that my experience with the GW gamer/painters who frequented the local places some years back did an exemplary job of completely unselling me on their hobby by being extraordinary jerks.  So I assume that being the opposite will probably have much better results.

I sometimes wear a tee that reads 'I Hate Everybody'... Sometimes Megan is the one that wears it... ::P:

 

But it is generally nice to be helpful if you are hanging at a store - that is how the hobby grows.

 

And, for the record, it is not just GW folks that can be complete knee-biters. There used to be a GURPS group that would do things like pull a D&D starter box out of a kid's hands, and try to insist that the kid instead go with The One True GameTM... It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I have avoided GURPS ever since. (The Rifts players were anti-social in a completely different way - and just kept themselves to themselves. I have a whole lot fewer complaints about those Rifts players....)

 

The Auld Grump - maybe un-social is a better term for the Rifts players than anti-social.

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3 minutes ago, TheAuldGrump said:

I find that instrumental music works just fine, playing in the background - and can help people focus. Avoid things with singing though - it can distract, rather than help focus. (I tend to play Amazon's 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music.)

 

"Focus" isn't something I seek or really want at painting sessions at a store. I see group painting as a social event, at which conversation is more important than progress.

 

And music can make it harder to communicate, either painting advice or random conversation.

 

But definitely do whatever works for your group.

 

3 minutes ago, TheAuldGrump said:

 

In general, I would say to avoid running painting sessions at a store as though it were the plague unless the store is sponsoring the painting session.

 

Sorry you've had such bad experiences at stores. We've had CMPA at eight(?) different stores over the years, all of which have been very nice to us, though one or two were, let's say, competence challenged. ^_^

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I should clarify, this will be at my house with people I already am at least acquaintances with initially. If we can keep it going for a while I'll look at expanding. 

 

I do appreciate the input and am taking notes. Please continue.

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45 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

"Focus" isn't something I seek or really want at painting sessions at a store. I see group painting as a social event, at which conversation is more important than progress.

 

And music can make it harder to communicate, either painting advice or random conversation.

 

But definitely do whatever works for your group.

 

 

Sorry you've had such bad experiences at stores. We've had CMPA at eight(?) different stores over the years, all of which have been very nice to us, though one or two were, let's say, competence challenged. ^_^

Again, instrumental music does not interfere with communication - vocals are another matter.

 

But I am weird, to a certain extent - I find that painting in a fast food restaurant, filled with distracting noises, bits of conversation, and foodlike smells.... helps me paint. Then again, Megan has, on a few occasions, taken me out to do public sketching - as a form of busking. We learned that I can draw and keep up a constant stream of patter at the same time. (I am an Extrovert, as is Megan... this may be connected.)

 

The problem with the first store was the manager - somehow he got it in his head that having a store painting day would lead to folks buying elsewhere, then bringing it to the store.

 

The result of the way he handled things pretty much guaranteed that the store would lose sales - making potential customers uncomfortable is not a good way to entice folks into buying. :rolleyes:

 

No surprise that the store went under pretty soon after that. (The owner was fine - but this was a hobby business for him. Unfortunately, he hired a bad manager to handle the day to day at the shop.)

 

The other store... had a manager/owner that ignored everybody, and let a customer use his store as a daycare.

 

Which would have been fine if the kid was actually interested in gaming, but he wasn't. So he got bored. (Not the kid's fault - Momma needed a flick upside the ear hole. The kid was interested in sport cards. The store was interested in Magic cards.)

 

There is another store, not so local, that has painting sessions - and I hear good things about it. But I hear good things about Crossroads in general, so that is not a surprise.

 

The Auld Grump

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For the kids group, I generally have instrumental music playing softly, and something baking in the oven.

 

The smell of brownies cooking does an amazing job of getting a small horde of kids to stick around the table and actually paint. ::P:

 

The smell of baking also works with the grownups - so I will add having something in the oven to the list of suggestions. (Brownies and cookies seem to work best.)

 

The Auld Grump - not generally an option at a gaming store, though.... ::D:

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If you are doing it from home with folks you already know,  then I suggest getting a core group of about 3 people who can commit to being there every time.  Because simply saying that you are going to be home every Friday night painting and inviting folks to come over is not going  to raise much interest.  Saying that you and two other guys do this EVERY week (or whatever your schedule is) is more likely to make people want to be included. 

 

Put out some food if people are going to hang out more than a couple hours.  Something easy like chili or pizza or the above mentioned brownies. 

 

I have found with at-home paint groups that putting a familiar movie on in the background at a low volume works ok and helps set the mood.  Something you know well enough that you can listen to, preferably with lines that can be quoted when certain scenes come up.  Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Big Trouble in Little China, etc.  People usually don't watch more than a couple of minutes and have no trouble talking over it. 

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38 minutes ago, PaganMegan said:

It was Tollhouse cookies!

 

Just like Grammum!

 

Movies sound like a good idea, but only if everyone has seen it before!:zombie:

 

 

There is some overlap with the group I infrequently watch bad movies with so there is propensity for quoting. Could be distracting but worth a try.

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21 minutes ago, Sergeant_Crunch said:

There is some overlap with the group I infrequently watch bad movies with so there is propensity for quoting. Could be distracting but worth a try.

Would YouTube painting videos running in the background be an appropriate substitute?

 

I bring this up because I'm reminded of a local board game café that shows board game videos on a wall while people do their thing.

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