Tutofig’s Interview (English version) – Part 2

Tutofig’s Interview (English version) – Part 2

Interviews - Le 7 juillet 2012

This is the first part of an interview I had the pleasure to do for the website : Tutofig. Very interesting questions, on various subject.

Because of the size of the Interview, we have decided to publish it in two parts. Have a good reading !

(You can find the interview also on Tutofig’s website : here.)

Specials thanks to François Lozach for having tranlasted it from french to english :) .

(Part 1 is available here.)

5 – The communication tools around our hobby :

- What do you think about forums ? Is it a place for exchanges? For criticisms ? Is it always useful ?

Forums are now something spread over the world. When I started in 2003/2004, nothing was exiting. Only the mailing list Figurines_fr was in place. Being an active member of several communities (Miniature or other area) and being moderator of some forums, I feel that chatting sessions are essential to our passion.
There are nice places of exchange, which allow us to organize meetings during contests, to meet friends … etc. In this tiny market, especially when you do not know people in the community, and you want to be “accepted”, they are quite essentials. You could obviously show your work, receive comments (more or less relevant sometimes), discuss about other’s WIP, and surely find inspiration. Logically, this is a real source of progression for painters. Regarding the critics made on each publication, let’s talk about their sensitivity and relevance. While Creafig was “live”, people complained about the “elitism” of the forum. Some of the best painters show their work, but when commenting the beginners, it was often with their own perception of quality. This has excluded a bit the less experienced persons, or the most sensitive ones.

In France, Minicréateurs took over after the end of Créafigs. On this forum, the majority (almost all in fact) of the “boss” painters is not active. The fact those famous painters do not want any more to participate, following various issues, has made this platform much more accessible, and much less elitist in fact. Nevertheless, this remains a bit for experienced painters, rather than gamers. The comments of Minicreateur’s members are closer to a “La La land”, really different than the previous Creafig atmosphere. Being active on “Minicrea”, I read often very soft critics, surrounded by nice comments to swallow the bitter pill.

A “double-standard” point of view !. Honestly I don’t know what’s the best strategy, as it is really linked to your own perception of criticism. Anyway, it is always important to have such meeting places, and it’s always easy to bite the hand that feeds you ;) . If you like it or not, when a forum is down for any reasons, its detractors are often the first to complaint to be unable to access it.

- Thousands of tips, tutorials or reviews are available over the web. What do you think about the « Grand livre », Ravage magazine, CMON or Tutofig ?

These initiatives share the same goal : sharing knowledge. And this is something really essential in our environment. The Ravage’s “special editions” were the first in France, to compile “best of” techniques. I supervised two of them for Ravage. Independently of their small size (84 pages either for painting or sculpture volumes), they are sufficiently comprehensive. The “Grand Livre” provides a more “complete” and organized support, even if some reiterations occurs. Both of them became references, regardless of your level.

Coolminiornot is another deal. This English speaking community does not include a lot of user’s feedback. This is mainly a large shop and a huge pictures gallery. The rating system leads to jealousy and resentment. Regarding their Tutorials, it is really controversial. The webmaster sold a digital compilation of the tutorials freely posted on its website, without having author’s authorizations. The ebook is still available, even if complaints and discussion are pending since a while.
Tutofig is the only one that has currently no commercial aim for the moment. Indeed, Ravage special editions or the “Grand livre”, have been initially made to share knowledge but they are sold to compensate their production cost. Tutofig is a free web portal, classifying a huge majority of tutorials available on the Internet, and providing links back to the author’s websites. There is no “copy” of the original work. It is a kind of encyclopedia. The initiative is even more selfless as it is really labor intensive. I’m glad to see some of my tutorials linked in the website.
I hope tutorials I have written for Ravage, or in my own website, could confirm that I love sharing the experience acquired years after years. I consider really important to pay back to the community what I got from it in the past. Indeed, there is always something new to learn, or a way to improve yourself.

However, I feel sorry that the choice and adaptation of tutorials available on the web is not more considered. Finding a good tutorial is nice; reproducing the same technique makes sense. But appropriating the technique into its own ideas or aim is something missing in my opinion. Into a general uniformity, there are so many tutorials over the web, a lot of people don’t look further . Why rack our brains to reinvent the wheel ? It’s the same problem.

6- The painting class :

- Plenty of painters or sculptors are hosting training class, for couple of days or more. Do you like to do this? What is your vision of those sessions?

It’s nice to organize Painting class, because it is a real rewarding experience. A win – win moment for both student and teacher. I did not host a lot of them, maybe around ten. Anyway I enjoyed each of them, mainly because of their educational aspect.

I don’t mind doing some more; the only concern is the organization: finding suitable time and place. Regarding my vision of the class, I would like to give as much information as possible, in the shortest time. And this is the difficult point, mainly because each student has his own learning curve. You often have to do it case by case, which does not facilitate the task. By experience, you prioritize the important things to develop and keep the other points aside, in case you have extra time.
Knowing how to hold your brush, cleaning it, preparing correctly your figurine, managing your paint dilution correctly, are the essential topics. Afterwards, blending theory comes and everything starts from here. Skin, color theory and values, light placement, metallic surfaces, fabrics, contrast, blood and various effects, bases, global composition, painting a face, different approaches depending on the scale … etc. There are so many things to approach.
Overall, you have to distribute equal part of theoretical knowledge and hands-on practice. You should let students make mistakes, to understand better, and help them to correct it afterwards. I like when the attendants come with their own creations. This allows me to evaluate their level and adjust a customized guidance.

As another important aspect, I invite my students to formulate questions, even if I madden them with it. There is no useless question; it’s a shame to leave the class without all the answers, having a question in mind, without being able to discuss it.

- Is it only altruistic, to share your knowledge, or to earn money ?

You do not really earn money with painting class. I rarely had more than 300 euros at the end, generally between 100 and 200 euros. Gain decreases quickly if you deduct food and other expenses. In case you don’t have to pay certain things, like the painting room or the figurines, then you can earn a bit more. However it’s quite rare to combine these 2 factors, and I never manage to obtain the second one. Indeed, when you have to buy 18 miniatures at 10 – 15 euros, some “side expenses”, the room, brushes and food, you cannot really get a lot of money at the end, with a 60-70 euros ticket per attendant. (I almost always host my class with a second teacher. This allows me to accept more people, follow each guy closer, and enter into substantive discussion).

In brief, you cannot live only with this income. Of course, it is cool to leave the class with 200 euros in your pocket; we are not doing this solely for glory. However, I appreciate a lot this mixture of spreading knowledge, having great time, discussions with various people, talking about everything and nothing in the evening, around a beer. You can sometimes even make friends among the students.

- What the students can expect from you? What do you expect from them?

I give them my soul ! what else ? They paid to have me in their place, so they can have high expectations. I don’t want to leave a class having the feeling I did not give enough. It never happens until now. Like I said, I often push attendant to formulate questions. The class must be sharing things, and discussions. Every question can be useful for others.
Putting together questions, and the whole theory and practice given during the course, they probably avoid spending month of practice or lonely questioning. You should be aware that such training over two days, represents maybe 5-10 years of teacher’s experience.
Reading a written tutorial is instructive. But seeing someone doing the technique in front of you is totally different. You could see then the movement, the dilution, how to place the brush, in fact the “painter touch”. Doing it yourself afterwards is easier, especially if this is done immediately.

This is basically how I proceed. I paint first a specific part, surrounded by students, and they have to reproduce the same. I examine their own task individually, correcting them if needed.

In return, I expect from them concentration and nerves of steel. Of course I know this is not straightforward. A painting class represents two days of painting, 10 hours a day, with a break in the middle. Therefore, this is really heavy, fatigue, lack of sleep, running out of patience, and two teachers behind your back all the time… This is also why I recommend bringing a notebook to write notes. This is very important. Afterwards if students come in good mood, with a good sense of humor and a lot of jokes, that’s perfect !

7 – Commission

- Let’s continue around the financial aspect of our hobby. Many painters try to earn money by painting armies. Are you doing this?

Not at all. First of all, I do not accept a lot of painting commission, I generally accept only some high level painting commission, not really for gaming. In any case, only individual or monsters, not troops. Nevertheless, I accept all scales available.

- Do you think one could live with only painting commission ? Some painters (in Asia for example) create small companies, broke prices, by establishing line production. Is it the end of the freelance French painters?

It is eventually possible to make a real career with this, it’s clearly easier in some countries than others. For example when you sell in France, a painted mini on Ebay at 100 or 200 euros, declaring your earning officially, you will not earn a lot at the end. You cannot pay your regular bill with this. In Poland or Russia for example, it may be feasible. You sell 3 or 4 of them per months and you could get enough money. This is far from being impossible then.

In France, you cannot really live correctly only with this activity. I only know very few painters who “survive” with this, but they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Those rare “champions” produce a large volume of figurines and particularly very high quality tabletop. Let’s take the example of Christopher Bauer. With just a bit more details, some of his commercial tabletop painting could win a Golden Demon. He stays ahead in this market correctly, but he states himself :”you have to be totally devoted to your job, passionate, do not expect to live in complete luxury.”

The deal would be to combine this activity with a half-time job and regular painting class for example. Being a freelance artist only does not make the ends meet. Never been the case indeed. I don’t think the Asian competition are really damaging, basically because they are not targeting the same audience. Those who call well known artists want quality, but also proximity.

- You should have so many figurines painted in your showcase, are you selling them on Ebay ?

No, I never sell my own miniatures on Ebay. I did it once, and the work has been done ​​especially for this purpose. Was in 2007, quite a long time ago ! Otherwise, the only minis I have sold were made for a Golden Demon (or other contests), and has been requested afterwards by some collectors. I have made ​​some specific commission jobs, but I do not accept lot of them.

8 – Your future ?

- Do you think you have now turned the corner on our hobby, all the techniques ? All the people?

I think no one can really complete the matter. The subject is constantly moving, either in different technology or creation/death of companies. About the techniques, there is always something to learn or an unexplored area. For example, I never paint tank with my highest quality. I should try it one day. This should be surely completely different way of working. Remains also sculpture, molding, etc. … There is always room for exploration.

About the people, I still hope to meet a lot of guys , make new friends years after years. There is a strong chance that this will continue a while, having fun in the various competitions.

- Do you wish to try different mediums? Canvas painting, graphite…?

Well, not really. I am not comfortable with a pencil. The idea grows in my mind but we’ll see this later on. However, putting color on drawing could be interesting. I had the opportunity to color my website logo – drawn by my stepfather. I really enjoyed applying our technique on a classical drawing.

- Have you ever think to give up everything? Biking across Africa ? (no matter why I took this example ;)

Yes, it’s happened, but not about our hobby. I am pretty pessimistic regarding human nature. When I was younger, I sometimes dreamed of taking my backpack to retire far away like a hermit! But that’s another story!

Final word (from François Lozach)

By discussing with Julien, and after meeting him, we have discovered a real talented guy, funny, without taking himself too seriously. !

No stereotyped language, either in real life or in forums, with a contagious perpetual good mood. Above all, his availability and friendliness are wonderful, always ready to discuss with others, independently of their painting experience.

Who says famous painters are elitists! THANKS

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