Sunday, April 15, 2012

Goatboy - It's Sunday?

And I am at work. We are covering for a co worker who is going into Surgery so I am here this fine Sunday before Adepticon. I am kind of sad as I want to go see Cabin in the Woods but I might have to wait to get a chance to jump over to the theater while in Chicago and watch it. I guess it depends on how my games are going.

Quick thing - if you are going to Adepticon I will be drawing on bags and what not most likely during the trade nights and depending on if I don't make it to Day 2. I am playing Demons so I might have a nice and free Sunday. The first 500 get a free bag from Battlefoam and I am sure those poor naked bags need some artwork on it. So alright enough of that.

Today I want to start some talks into Paint commissioning. I read Brent's lovely blog post about it and it got my brain brewing on some of the questions I get about paint services and how to get into it, do it, and keep yourself sane with it. So with that in mind let's start.

Paint Services - Whys, Hows, and WTF's?

First of all as I am sure you know I provide a Paint Service for miniatures. The company is called Full of Monkey Paint Services and it is usually me and maybe a friend or two depending on the style needed and the scale of the project. Its a mid range paint company in that I specialize in getting decent Table Top quality work to you quickly with a tweak towards competitive play. When I do models for people I always think of it as my own model I don't get to play with - so I usually magnetize options and do as much as I can to make a decent, playable product. My style is different and either you love it or hate it but that is how I do things. My prices are decent and I try my best to kick as much ass for you as I can.

So with that in mind let's first ask why the hell would you want to become a painting service? I am sure everyone has different reasons for doing it. You could always have your local friends say your painting kicks ass or they want some of your minis and you think hell why not. You might look at doing the paint service to supplement your income or a way to have more money to blow on plastic crack. You could just really like to paint miniatures and think that making some money with miniature painting would be awesome. There are a lot of reasons to get into painting miniatures for money and I really just want you as a prespective paint machine to think about it before buying a domain and throwing your business out there.

So with your reasons for painting in mind you have to really think - what is my time worth. I do freelance art as well so I am always thinking of the hourly bottom line. No matter what you do this is a job so you should treat it as such. Getting paid under minimum wage is not worth your time. So when thinking about starting a paint service you have to at first think about these things.

a) The time it takes for you to complete work
b) The time it will take away from your life
c) How much all of that is worth to you.
d) Is it worth it to make a hobby a business.

These things are extremely important. If you don't go into this with a good idea of your time's worth then you will get screwed in the end. I have seen a lot of people "hire" people locally and watch as the local painter gets tired of doing the work.

You have to judge how long it takes you to complete a mini. Look I know we all want an army full of Golden Demon paintjobs but that is impractical. Hell when I jump into the hourly wage I think most people should charge then you will throw up a bit when you think how long does it take to finish a high class model. To give you an idea I usually take about 2-3 hours to complete a Tier 2 unit of 10 models. My orks usually take 3 hours to get 10 done with about 12 different shades of paint and just keeping the assembly line moving. Other types of units can take a bit longer but I usually look at completing 10 or so models in about 3 hours as my standard for billing and quoting an army. If it takes you 10 hours to paint one guy then you really shouldn't look at starting a paint servce.

The most important thing is that this is a job. If you have a day job think about how much time you spend working there. Now add more time working and you basically have very little free time. I am lucky in that my current job will have down time that I can double up when I work. This probably won't last forever so I am going to have to look at having some of "my" time taken up by painting. Lucky for me my wife works on hobby stuff so I can usually hang out, chat and paint minis while she is making pretty things. All work and no play makes you a crappy person so keep this in mind as you schedule and set up time to throw paint on minis. In fact I keep schedules of my paint time to ensure I keep up with projects and commissions. I showcases my OCD at times but it is one of the few ways to ensure you don't go bonkers while being surround by glue fumes and paint pots.

Look at how much its worth to you to do this? I charge basically $25.00 an hour. I do this for art work as well as miniature work. This covers my taxes and an other extra bits I might need to include. Some projects take less time while others are more of a pain in the ass. I am about to start having a group of guys do my building as I just feel it would help keep me from going insane with some of the build requests. I like to magnetize things as I am a player and being able to alleviate broken weapons is a great thing. It is these small things like figuring out a doable hourly rate that will help you out in the end. Also you need to figure out how long it takes you to work as well. If customers ask for certain things you charge for it. If they change up things while you are working you charge for it too. You are a business and no matter what if the customer is a friend he needs to respect your time commitment into this project. If not then just say no and refund.

I have a day job to help me as this painting service is designed to supplement as well as keep me from constantly buying new things to slap paint on. This helps me design my hourly wage as well as control some of the elements of time etc. I don't need to get a ton of work to keep myself or my family fed. I am not having to worry about the day to day bills as I got the covered initially. This "business" is as much a hobby as painting is to myself. I already have a freelance art mindset so I just look at this as a way to keep my brain busy.

So you have to ask yourself is it worth it to change your hobby into a business? A lot of the time it kills the hobby for yourself. I remember getting my first real fulltime art job. I was an animator on A Scanner Darkly and it was a great year of work. It did almost kill my desire to do any other artwork. I used to dream of the animation technique and I would walk up unable to think of anything else. I didn't really want to draw anything I wanted to do and just came in, punched the "card" and get to work on the animation. I finally found a way to break myself from the work and my own personal work so I could continue enjoy doing artwork. You have got to make sure this doesn't kill your hobby or else you will be regretting getting that domain and started work as a paint for hire creator.

I will talk more about this later as I just wanted to get some thoughts out on the page. I have been asked multiple times about it and I thought - let me bring some knowledge to the blog sphere. There is a ton of room for paint services and I am friends with a ton of them. If you have any questions comment, shoot me an email at goatboybols @ and I will be more then happy to talk about this more.


Faolain said...

Thanks for this article. I'm at the point I'm sick of commissions because I'm getting paid less than minimum wage. I've always felt like I severely undercharge, I guess I need to up my rates so I don't burn out.

Brandon Griffith said...

Cabin in the Woods was entertaining. I liked that it had an interesting twist on an otherwise old genre.

The hardest part for me with the painting is not getting socked with sub minimum wage pay; even with my speed increases, painting an army just bogs me down; my time is more efficient painting a single high-quality model.

Someone quipped last Thursday you and I should make a trade - I build and paint you a Golden Daemon quality model, and you paint me a goatboy army, and see if we finish at the same time. :p

Have fun at Adepticon! maybe I'll go with you guys next year.