Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hobby, Therapy, Focus, But Not a Business

I am a hobbyist, not a business. According to some brief research I have done online, the minimum an artist like me should be paid is about $22 per hour - that's the casual rate, which certainly describes what I do. I have entertained hopes that perhaps I could be a business, or make some sort of living from painting miniatures.....but I do not. I'm fairly sure I cover my costs in terms of materials, but in terms of labour, not by a long shot.

I really admire the painters who can make a living from what they do - I am blown away by guys like James Wappel who manage to produce such beautiful work in quick time, and are able to command good prices for their efforts. I know Mr Wappel & others work some intense hours to get through that volume, unfortunately I don't have the stamina to do that. My hands & wrists start to cramp, my eyes hurt, and my back aches if I paint for extended periods.

I had to stop working a "mainstream" career because my health broke down on a number of levels. I am so thankful that early on after leaving my former career, I was contacted by a fellow Tasmanian wargamer to paint some miniatures for him - thanks Barrie! This helped to give me some focus, it was therapeutic, I had stuff to do day by day - it has meant a lot to me to be able to work with my hands & have ongoing projects. It has helped me grow my own collection of Dark Age & WW2 figures, get more paints & brushes, invest in better lighting, and help pay some of the internet bill from all my browsing at wargame/history related stuff.

I receive no social welfare assistance as my wife's earnings nudge us just over the threshold as far as that is concerned. It is a weird situation to be in.

 I am thankful though, thankful that I am not as depressed & anxious as I was, that I can sleep most nights, that I still have my family around me, that I live in a pleasant semi-rural location. I thank God that he daily preserves me & perseveres with me through this valley. I am thankful for the counsellors and professionals who have taught me that it is far better to accept stuff than burn myself out over stuff I can do nothing about. Thankful for an amazing wife and children that keep loving me as I am.

I will keep painting stuff,  and sometimes I will say "no" to commissions - please don't be offended, remember it is not a business for me. I have changed how I work a bit, like not doing anything smaller than 20mm now, and I have been thinking of only taking commissions for stuff 28mm & bigger - I find the small stuff hard work for my eyes & hands.

Some of you may be surprised to know that I have no personal interest in modern warfare - my interests stop at WW2. I have painted a lot of modern warfare miniatures in 20 & 28mm because folks asked me to, but I'm starting to think that maybe I should be painting stuff that I have an actual interest in. That's not to say that I haven't found the modern stuff enjoyable in terms of a creative challenge - it's just not where my interests lie.

I'm not sure that many will read this post as it is text based, but thanks if you did :-)
Thank you to all those who leave kind comments on my blog, or ask interesting questions, or even point out an inaccuracy in my research. I will continue to  try & reply to you, even if it's just "Thanks :-)".

All the best,

John.

22 comments:

  1. I really understand your worries mate - I did a bit of commission work to supplement my income when I was at uni, and while I enjoy painting, the pace of the work and the low hourly rate did end up sapping some of my enthusiasm. I found that factoring in one for my own work, and for some gaming as well really helped. I really appreciate your taking commissions from me in the past, and hope you will be able to in the future, ( I was actually going to send you an email next week!) but understand if you're taking a step back as well.
    Thanks for a thought provoking post. Ben

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    1. Hi Ben. Feel free to get in touch mate. Not stepping back as such, just making adjustments as I go along :-)
      Looking forward to seeing what you had in mind. Take care, John.

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  2. To see the Hong Kong, China Sri Lanka chaps come into the hobby sort of killed off my ability to earn a bit from painting plus I was really to slow any way. But I agree the hourly rate isnt worth it but the therapy is. As God grants you more time spend it valuably doing stuff you love, family, friends, paint and game for yourself and then do the commission work. If they like your style they will wait. Got a mate that can't paint his own because of commission work and he has not played a mini game at the club in months. Always like your blog keep it up.

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    1. Thanks Chris, I really appreciate your comments, very true.

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  3. Glad to hear that the hobby is good for you, been trying to convince my wife of that for years!!! Still showing off the moderns you did, the club here is crazy over them. I'm one of those who would wait, totally worth it for the minis you put out!

    Jeff in the US

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    1. Thanks Jeff, it was a pleasure working with you on your project. :-)

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  4. Great post John. I understand where you are coming from too. My eyes can't handle too much time painting and my hands certainly cramp up a fair bit. I try to do about a half hour most nights. I would just like to say thanks again for answering my questions and for the inspiration your blog has given me.

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    1. Thanks so much Rodger. I always think how very kind it is of you & others to comment on my posts, I really do appreciate it.

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  5. If you ever give up moderns the world will loose its finest artist.

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    1. Hehe, cheers Paul very kind of you :-)

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  6. Being able to paint for a little while even if it is just half an hour has been very therapeutic to me over the years. Glad you have found similar help from it.

    Really surprised about your moderns admission- the skill and detail you put into them I thought came from some one who was really into the period. A testament to your painting skills really.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    1. Thanks Pete, much appreciated :-)

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  7. Thoughtful stuff ......and do love your style, I only paint for myself but it is my therapy way better than mindfulness.

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    1. Cheers Matt. Yeah, just a few thoughts. As long as my body can handle it I will keep on painting. I try and keep up my MICBT too :-)

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  8. A lovely reflective post, Jack. My hobby is my escape from the rat race which doesn't happen as much as it should. Your painting is always inspirational. Your moderns show a commitment to accuracy which frankly blows me away considering your admission. Your painting is always an inspiration.

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    1. Thanks Stiubhart, glad you enjoy what I do. Aye, well, I guess I was feeling somewhat reflective - it happens from time to time :-)

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  9. Dear John, i don't know you. Very often i visited your blog and i followed your post and very nice paiting job.
    you have wrote wonderful words . With friendfully i'm close to you. all the best, ciao from Italy. Carlo

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  10. Allo John,

    I know I’m a relative newcomer around here but I think I understand your situation to a certain extent and can relate some myself.

    Commissions just sap my will to paint, as what was at one time a hobby done out for pleasure/fun, becomes a responsibility with a client expecting a level of swiftness and speed-of-work. The money isn’t worth it (Funny considering when I went to Art School in the 90’s my lecturer told me we should be charging a minimum of 8 quid an hour – inflation…), and my health takes a real toll being stuck at my hobby desk for such prolonged periods of time.

    These days I paint for me and for gifting ideas for friends and family only. Keeps me enthused by my hobby and I can work at whichever pace I wish, or that my health allows.

    Keep up the good work sir.

    - Dai


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  11. I could never paint quickly enough to do commissions, a handful of bits and bobs for friends and once doing some extras after an ebay sale is about my limit! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You can never underestimate the good that hobbies do; for me it's some quiet time to unwind and switch off and there have been times that's been absolutely essential. Long may it grant you 'joy and forgetfulness'!

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