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HOBBY: Miniature Painting Services Directory

6 Minute Read
Jul 15 2014
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Need to get some miniatures painted? Directory assistance, standing by . . . 


Greeting fellow wargamers!  Caleb with White Metal Games here!

To Build a Directory
Several months ago in an attempt to get to know our competition better and at the same time improve upon our pricing structure at WMG, we did an exhaustive evaluation of the miniature painting industry.  The results were published here, at Spikey Bits.

In general the study was well received.  It was by no means without error.  Several services contacted us, as we had hoped, to let us know they felt we had misrepresented them in some way (not listed a service they offered, in a few cases listed the wrong country, or felt we had misgauged their level of work), and in one case a service asked not to be included in our directory at the threat of legal action.  But for the most part, services far and wide felt this was a good thing for the community and they seemed pleased to be included in our findings.

In addition, we devoted an entire episode of our podcast War Council to the study, and invited the infamous Rob Baer of Spikey Bits as well as Thomas Reidy AKA Goatboy to join in the discussion, both excellent painters themselves, both with very different styles of painting.

This was hardly our first attempt to gain a greater understanding of the miniature painting industry from the ground up.  We also outsourced several projects to other miniature painting services in order to get a sense of what it was like to be on the client end of the commission spectrum.  The results might surprise you. (Part 2 is forthcoming)

What this means is that while no one can claim to be an expert on the miniature painting industry, we feel we have done our homework and wanted to share our findings with the community as a whole.

In the spirit of community, we are pleased to announce what we believe is the most comprehensive list of miniature painting services to date in the entire world.  And you can find this directory right here!  It should be noted that this list is STILL being expanded upon and this is by no means a complete list.

After much deliberation, we have decided to omit the PRICE, QUALITY, and TIER sections from this directory.  Although we feel like all of these options were useful in their own way, we ran into some conflicts with various studios.  Many services on the directory, especially those that specialize in historical miniatures, were unable to easily provide a quote for a 10 man squad of space marines.  I can understand when they are use to painting 15mm Prussians or the like.

Other studios felt we had understated the quality of their work, or felt like the directory in general was damaging to their business.  We got a few thinly veiled threats for legal action and decided it was best just to go ahead and remove those areas of the directory altogether.

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 In one particular case, a  miniature studio declined to be a part of this list, feeling that we were harming the miniature painting community as a whole.  To each his own.  To be fair, it is difficult to judge the quality of someones work, artistically.  What I like, perhaps you don’t, etc.  And painting services are challenged to paint models quickly and to a tabletop standard:  often the art of the craft is the first thing to go out the window.  There’s no room for time consuming techniques when you have 100 orks to get done by next week!

The Directory Lives!
This list now includes almost 200 miniature painting studios!  Well, sort of.  Of the over 190 miniatures services we have so far come across, almost 25% of them either appeared to be out of business, had not updated their websites in quite some time, or were not accepting commissions at the time we came into contact with their service.

While this directory is far from finished, we feel it is a good first step in the direction of making the miniature painting commission service process more accessible to clients everywhere

We also invite services to add themselves to our directory.  They can do so by filling out the following form:

These studios will be added to the directory in a timely fashion and that way the directory will be as up to date as possible.  You can also use this form to inform us about services your painting service offers, and we will update the directory listing accordingly.

Of course if you don’t want to be included in this listing, that’s okay too.  Just email us here and tell us “no thank you, WMG, I’d rather handle this on my own.”

If your service is listed but there is a note in the comments section to the effect of:

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  • Unable to contact regarding commissions
  • No updates in some time
  • Unable to reach
  • Awaiting response
  • Etc

 . . .  this means that we attempted to contact you about your service, one way or another, and we unable to reach you.

Our next step along this path is to explore an exclusive blog roll, tentatively title War Paint, where only miniature painting studios would be invited to enroll.  This site would function like a miniature painting hub where clients could check out the most recent work from their favorite studios,much like a galleria of painting services, or a Sunday stroll through a shopping mall.

Studios interested in being considered for this exclusive blog roll should also fill out the above form (even if you are already on our directory) and once we have enough interest, we will discuss the next steps with all interested parties.

Funny Story Time
On a side note, I’d like to impart a personal opinion about the miniature painting industry as a whole.

About a year ago, I reached out to a wargaming group that shall remain nameless, to be added to a growing list of video contributors.  These video contributors make exclusive videos for this growing website in exchange for increased exposure, as well as some form of payment, and bragging rights of course.

At the time I approached this group, my videos were a bit sub par, and still are truth be told, and I was turned down.  It was a fair decision on their part.

Then about a year later, this same group sent out a notice looking for painters to paint stock models for their video battle reports, codex reviews, etc, and were offering store credit in exchange for painted models.  I once again applied to this service to become a ‘stock painter’ and was once again turned down.

For some reason this rubbed me the wrong way . . . and then a few weeks later it hit me.  I was feeling rejected by a company that DOESN’T DO THEIR OWN PAINTING!  These folks were literally telling me my work wasn’t good enough for them, when they didn’t have the chops to paint their own stuff!

Furthermore, at this point I was already several years into my hobby business, with plenty of commissions under my belt, everything from painting to conversion, to terrain, etc.  This is like a film critic telling a filmmaker what was wrong with their movie.  Sure, you are welcome to an opinion, but if you haven’t ever been in the kitchen, don’t tell me how to cook!

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This is like the old adage “By the time I realized I had no talent for _____, I was already too famous to quit”

Let me put this another way.  You are a professional miniature painter if the following applies:
Someone has at any time paid you to paint something for them.

You don’t have to support yourself on your commissions to be considered a pro painter.  We all paint at our own speed, to our own level, and all our contributions to the community should be valued for what they are, not what they aren’t.  Don’t base your self worth as an individual on someone else’s perspective of you.

If I constantly compared by work to the industry greats out there, I would crawl into a crater and go to ground forever.

So, to all the painters on this directory and all those out their painting just because you love to paint , I say to you . .  Great job guys!  You really . . .

PUT YOUR MINIS WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!!!

Caleb, White Metal Games

Psst . . if you found this article useful, give us a like on facebook, or at the very least, check out our latest happenings on youtube.  Or give us a listen on Warcouncil if you have the time!

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