Interview : Michael Bartels (Painting Buddha / Masterminis)

Interview : Michael Bartels (Painting Buddha / Masterminis)

Blog - Le 23 septembre 2013

If you don’t heard about Painting Buddha and, you should probably just arrived on earth or born.

This is an interview of Zaphod, aka Michael Bartels, “President” of Manabu/Painting Buddha and writer on
Thanks again Michael for taking the time to answered that questions, and for all the work you make with Ben and Mati !

And now… the interview :D !

Michael Bartels (on the right), with Ben Komets (left) and Mati Zander (center)

- Hello Michael, first can you present yourself ? Like the way you discover the hobby.

Hey Julien! Sure, I’ll try to be terse, although that is not one of my strong points ^^

First you need to know that I am a big fan of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’ve been using the alias Zaphod Beebleblebrox since the days when the Internet was still black-and-white and all text. I think it’s important to know, so everyone understands the importance of the number 42!

I got infected with the miniature virus when I lived in London back in 1991/92. At the tender age of 21 I entered the Games Workshop store on Oxford street and came out equipped with brushes, miniatures and colors (some of the minis are not painted to this day, a trend that should continue throughout my painter life :D ).

Because I was always very busy at work, I ended up collecting minis rather than using them for gaming or painting for many years. In 2005 I went to GD Germany and got hooked again. 2006 was my first professional workshop with Jeremie Bonamant Teboul – where I learned that you can actually dilute paint!

Since then I have visited dozens, if not hundred+ of events all over the world: Competitions, painting classes, nerd-camps and so on. I love miniatures. And I love the community!


- You are one of the creator of Painting Bhudda. You are also the writer behind . Can you tell us a little bit more those project ? How many are you working on those medias ?

When I turned 28, I decided by the time I would turn 42 (which happened faster than I like to think about), I would leave my corporate job and start a miniature company. And so I did. Back then it was just an idea, no details.

Returning from a two years private stay in Japan (just to learn the language), I moved to Berlin, because I absolutely wanted Mati Zander (now our Art Director Body) and Ben Komets (now Art Director Soul) on my team. These two guys are not only awesome and fun people, but I consider them to be among the best in what they do. I was very happy that after I told them about my dream that they both left their previous lives behind and joined our company, which by the way is called “学・Manabu“, Japanese for ‚Learning‘.

About a year ago I started blogging at, and we started working on our first project “Season 1: Target Identified”.

Painting Buddha : Season 1: Target Identified


- How come the idea of creating Painting Bhudda, and what steps was necessary to build it ?

We soon found that is not really a good name for our ‘brand’. First, it’s hard to create a logo for it, secondly, the name did not display the values of our company. My life-changing experiences in Japan (culture, people, earthquake, Fukushima and my search for the Ultimate Question about Life, the Universe and Everything, to which we all know the answer is 42) and the ideas we put into our company goals reminded me of the “Happy Buddha” and thus the idea for the name was born. I told Mati about it and he created our awesome logo.


- How many people are following Masterminis ? It looks like the website has become one of the famoust blog on our microcosm in a very short time !

Haha, yeah. It’s fun! There are about 570 subscriber to the blog itself, but since Google shut down the Google Reader, there is really no big benefit in ‘subscribing’ to a blog anymore. Most people follow us on our Facebook page, which exploded from the mid 500s to now 1500 ‘likes’ since the launch of our first season.

On masterminis I just write about events, we have tons of giveaways of rare and nerdy stuff and I express my love-hate-relationship with Games Workshop.


Painting Buddha : Happy Monk

- Have you any idea about the number of post that were writen on Masterminis ? Are you happy, or surprise by the incredible success of your website ?

Of course we are happy! Like our Happy Monk! :D

In the first year we posted 342 articles which got a total of around 460000 views. This week we will break half a million.

To be honest, my goal was to reach 420,000 viewers in the first year – just because it’s a cool number. And I was surprised and humbled by the fact that we actually reached that goal.


- What is the future of Masterminis and Painting Buddha ?

We are working on our Painting Buddha website right now, which will turn into a big community site for painters all across the globe. I think we can say that it will not be your ‘typical’ website. We are considering to merge and PaintingBuddha, but that is not 100% decided yet (mostly to guard us from GW’s Legal Inquisition).

We also plan on working with independent ‘brick-and-mortar’ retailers to further grow our hobby. Also we plan some events to attract new painters, but these are maybe for the 2nd half of 2014.

In the end, you know, we are Germans, we always have to ultimately go for world domination! But since no one tried that with miniatures yet, I consider it a most cunning plan! Nobody expects the Painting Buddha!

Painting Buddha : Logo



- Can you describe your way of thinking, about the hobby and your personal approach of it.

That is actually easy. I always have lived by the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Douglas Adam’s particular, weird humour. I like doing things completely opposite to what a ‘normal’ person would do. You can’t imagine how successful that is, especially when you are sitting in a meeting with the ‘Big Business Guns’ in a corporate environment. For example: Does a company have to make profit? How about: “No!”

As far as miniature business is concerned, if you just learn from the best in the industry, Games Workshop – and then do the exact opposite of what they do, you’ll be fine.

Our motto is: SHARE & ENJOY. And we mean it. We don’t do this for profit, we do this for the community – and for fun. And we have a lot of fun!

Don't panic, just SHARE and ENJOY


- And to finish, what are you working on at the moment ?

At the moment, I am answering your interview questions. (^.^*)

LOL, no seriously, we are working on Season 2 which is scheduled to be available for order in December. And we have painters lined up, that I seriously consider to be irresistible.
We have an awesome scene from the Painting Buddha Diner – and our first painters is the incredibly talented Chris “Monkeyman7x” Octive from the UK.

Season 3 is half-done. “Teasing” : We are also working on a showcase vehicle which coincidentally is also ‘compatible’ with many armies of a futuristic game system by a big company somewhere in Nottingham, UK. We also have further plans for this particular project for later in 2014.

It’s safe to say that we will not only continue to work on the best miniature painting DVD sets we can make, but we have many more exiting projects in the pipeline. And with the support of the gaming and painting community, we will be able to turn our nerdiest dreams into reality.

A big shout-out to all of our supporters from all of us here at Painting Buddha!


Our motto is: SHARE & ENJOY. And we mean it. We don’t do this for profit, we do this for the community – and for fun. And we have a lot of fun!

3 Comments to Interview : Michael Bartels (Painting Buddha / Masterminis)

  1. Zaphod Beeblebrox

    Hey Julien,

    thank you so much for your posting of this interview. We are very thankful for the support we receive from everywhere and I am looking forward to SHARING & ENJOYING our next projects with you :)


  2. admin

    It’ll be my pleasure :D !!!!

  3. Pingback: [Septembre] Best of | 04

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