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Advice on asking someone to “paint my mini for me”


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Other artists please add your comments…I am a decent artist at minis and enjoy the hobby. It is MY hobby but often friends and acquaintances ask “hey can you paint my mini for me?” Or the dreaded plural “minis” for me. So I was making a list of gripes/considerations/comments in thought of this request:

1) “minis” isn’t “mini”. Each mini to be painted can take 2-4 hours depending on complexity or how “busy”

they are. Busy means lots of details like pouches and extra stuff they sculpt on them that are smaller than dog hairs sometimes.

2) many of minis my friends find on Etsy are full damn DIORAMAS that have lots of extra figures and terrain! These are NOT minis! Do not buy them and refer to them as minis.

3) I have to be inspired much of the time to paint MY OWN minis. So when you ask me to paint yours and it isn’t something I think is cool well…the paint job may not be “cool” either. 
4) as in #1… I have stuff to do in life too like for example now my huge lawn. So to paint your mini how about we swap , you come out in the hot Texas sun and I paint your mini. 
just thoughts and frustrations….

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I think you should take it as a compliment they are even asking you.  It's inspiring, or should be that someone wants you to create something for them that you've done for yourself. That's a pretty cool thing! 

 

Just because they don't understand the complexity of it or demand on time it has, doesn't mean you shouldn't explain it or let them assume it's easy.   Simply tell them you're working on stuff you enjoy and may not have time to do stuff outside of what you scheduled. I see this a lot with knitters.  A garment depending on quality of yarn, complexity of knit, and time to make it, all adds up.  The best thing is watching someone ask the knitter of they could make one for them too.  Some of those things are 100's of hours.  Helps put a request for a mini in perspective (no pun intended).

 

Like you, I don't consider myself a pro.  I'm learning more each day and trying to enter more pieces into competitions just to challenge myself. I do it to know I'm improving and I guess too get noticed. Seems vain to say that, but it's a great feeling for me to have a stranger or friend go, "wow! That's amazing!  Can you do one like that for me?"  I want to please people, but I need to make sure my time is valued.  The small time I have to paint is time I want to paint WHAT I WANT, not someone else's stuff.  I've taken some challenges before if someone said they couldn't and wanted to see what I could do with it. That's fun, just to push myself, but ultimately I have to whittle my own pile of shame down, vs doing that for others. 

 

All in all, I think it's awesome if someone asked you to paint for them.  Having the modesty to accept the compliment, but also the ability to graciously decline is hard.  I was offered a commission once, which felt great.  But I realized I'm not at the level I feel I can take money and deliver a result of what I feel it's a commission artist grade.  Maybe someday.  Would I sell my work I've already done - that's totally different.  And yes I would.  However,  doing a commission to someone else's expectation just doesn't sound fun to me.  I value my time to do relax.  Not work.  

 

I belive I agree with you.  My perspective on the person asking may be divergent from yours though.   

 

Edited by R2ED
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It can be frustrating if you feel people are abusing your time and generosity, but like R2ED says, I usually take it as a compliment.  I'm no award winning painter, but I do paint better and enjoy it more than most of my friends.  So I know they are frustrated too with their inability and even less time to paint.   When someone asks, I usually say I would be happy to teach them to paint, or host a paint night so we can paint together.  Sometimes they are happy with that and sometimes not.  I don't do commission work, I don't like it, I want to paint my own figures. 

 

I will often paint figures to represent characters in our game, but they remain in my possession.  Sometimes, if the mood strikes me, I'll paint a figure as a gift, and that's what it is, my choice to give that time and effort to a friend. 

 

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Yes, it's a compliment, but it will also take up YOUR time.

I've recently painted a full set of Dark Soul Board Game Minis, for a friend of youngest vixen's boyfriend.

 

The reasons  and terms I did it:

  • As a nice gesture to future Son in Law, it's his friend but they play these games together.
  • I told them up front it would take months because I'm a slow painter and I have lots of other things to do.
  • I wouldn't buy the minis myself but at least they were predominantly Undead/Evil creatures which suits me fine, I will NEVER paint a Space Marine Army of Wood Elves for someone else.
  • I did ask if he had wishes, he gave me carte blanche, that made it easier for me. Trying to paint exactly what a non-painter expects from you may lead to disappointment.

 

After I was done the owner of the minis was very happy with them

Still, I know one thing, never again..

Why? Because my time is limited and there were times when I pushed myself to paint these minis while I actually would have liked to paint my own stuff.

 

Something to consider.

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I have enough trouble painting stuff for myself.  My usual reply to the "hey can you paint this for me?" is along the lines of "I'm honoured you like my style enough to ask such, but I don't do commissions".  If pressed for more, it's a case that I paint for relaxation and enjoyment. 

 

I find painting for others stressful, unless they're for Rune, in which case he just asked I have blues and purples, and they were minis I wanted to paint anyways...  Oh yeah, I also like keeping what I've painted... 

Edited by WhiteWulfe
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   I may be outside the norm, but I like painting noncharacter minis for others.  I don't have much chance to play in-person RPGs since I live in a rural area so I really don't need painted minis for myself.  Painting minis for someone that will use them gives me more motivation than just painting minis I know will be put aside and never enjoyed once the painting is complete.

   I never paint Warhammer minis for anyone since people seems to have very rigid ideas of how they should be painted and often seem to think Citadel paints are the only acceptable media.  I don't often paint a mini for a players PC because I don't want take the time to paint to a level I think would be appropriate for a main character,  On the other hand, I am delighted when someone asks me to paint something like a band of orcs or a bugbear to a tabletop standard.  I have even been known to paint large number of figures for a boardgames.  I usually give someone a figure or two before agreeing to paint anything for them so they can see the level to which I am willing to paint (Unfortunately, some people have unrealistic expectations from looking at professionally painted figures on the internet).  

 

 

 

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I'm in the same boat as @ferret. I enjoy painting for other people. I don't do army painting though, I hate batch painting. So generally it'll be a one off PC or something. I don't have a chance to RPG in person anymore as of now. I liked being able to send minis off with Husband for his groups to play with. It gave me a lot more motivation than I've had in a long time. Like ferret I will show someone what they may be getting quality wise beforehand and generally (so far) people have been agreeable with that. I do paint board games but not for other people. That's just Too Much for me to handle.

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It's definitely a tricky spot to be in.  We naturally want to help our friends (humans being social...ish animals), but some things we do for ourselves.

 

My "open secret" nerdity was fully revealed at work bit before the pandemic started.  I'd been painting over lunch, so that's a real bad way to keep something to yourself, but eventually word got out to some of the other nerdy-types.  It wasn't long before people started asking about commissions.

 

While I was flattered, I certainly don't consider what I do to be of "hirable quality."  I explained, politely but firmly, that I didn't consider myself to be skilled enough to charge, had a massive backlog of my own figures for a number of games (at the time I was working my way through Star Wars: Imperial Assault), and that the price I would have to charge to juggle all those issues would be insulting for what they received in return.

 

There was some disappointment, but not a lot of pushback.  I still feel a bit bad about it, but my painting is to help me manage my stress and commission work would not help with that.

 

I think that the brush holds a lot of intimidation for people.  I'm not entirely sure why, but the number of "how do you do that?" comments I have received seems to indicate that there's some kind of barrier there (I say this as if I didn't have several minis that I'm holding off painting "until I'm a little better").  Then again, I think it was Michelangelo who said that his sculptures were already present in the marble, all he did was remove the excess stone.

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I personally love painting minis for other people, particularly new RPG players. I find it really helps them enjoy the experience more, and makes them more likely to want to continue or even learn to paint. But I totally understand where you're coming from. And I've been lucky in that no one has approached me to want a large quantity of minis painted (save for my brother, more on this to follow).

 

 

On 4/22/2022 at 11:54 PM, charcon said:

I have stuff to do in life too like for example now my huge lawn. So to paint your mini how about we swap , you come out in the hot Texas sun and I paint your mini. 

 

I find this a perfectly acceptable offer to make to someone. Explain the time it takes you to do something for them, and what you have to put off doing for yourself. If they're willing to barter... maybe give it a go? I've bartered with my brother before for painting things for him. He typically runs errands to pick up things that are easier to find in a big city than where I live, which I know takes up his time, so I don't mind painting some minis for him. At times when my budget for new hobby supplies has been non-existent, he's bought paints and brushes in exchange for my brush labor.

 

I've never regretted doing it, just have to find out if people are willing to do it. Just lay out the terms and quality of what they can expect in exchange for their sweat equity. I'd personally be willing to mow the lawn of the person who is willing to paint my player character mini. I've done harder things for far less.

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To quote Black Sabbath "The Devil is never a maker, the less that you give, you're a taker".

 

Yes, you need to be aware that there are a lot of people that will drain your soul via abusing your generosity. It usually starts with you giving an inch. Ask yourself: Are these people that pay it forward? Do they ever do favours (small or significant) to you?

 

This should inform your decision if you yourself don't particularily want to do whatever favour it is they ask of you (assuming you do not owe them, of course). 
I would also make sure to inform them of what they actually are requesting.

 

I know of several individuals that breeze though life, asking others to do stuff they have no concept of the real cost of, and when informed of this absolutely would not consider that cost reasonable.


 

 

 
 

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Whenever someone asks me to paint something for them, I give a price quote. And if it's something I really don't want to paint, the price is triple my normal rate. If someone likes my work enough to pay for it, I'll do it. But I'm passed the point of painting things for free, unless it's a gift (which I do quite often for birthdays and holidays and things). I do paint for a living tho, and people know and understand this, that if I'm painting for them then I'm not "working" so they have to pay me for the time that I spend doing their projects.

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