NextGen Artists – Interview with CraftWorld Studio – PRELUDE
So the team consists of Aleksandra Tana Cvetanovski and Marko Miladinović and in a relatively short amount of time, their CraftWorld Studio has made quite an impression both personally and professionally on the figure painting community! So I thought it might be a great idea to interview artists other than just the accepted Masters of our Artform. Whilst I continue to complete a monstrously large and honest and controversial interview with Alfonso Giraldes aka Banshee, we have created another section for interviews: NextGen Artists. This series of interviews will focus on those Artists who are now levelling up and becoming the next generation of figure painters to continue the growth of our hobby/art.
Let’s get straight into the interview….
1 Regardless of project or subject, your style is very distinctive and stays the same. Is this something that you do on purpose or is it more on a sub-conscious level?
Marko: We must admit, at a start of our painting career, we didn’t even have an idea that we have some distinctive style, it was the community that recognised it.
Aleksandra: As Marko introduced me to hobby, he also showed me great blogs, articles and tutorials useful for beginners. But, when we spent some time in painting models that we sculpted, (it was useful to practise). (I was afraid that I would ruin Marko’s Dwarf models, I started with painting one of them following the booklet tutorial, that explained how to paint dwarf models and I never finished it).
Anyway, Marko asked me why I used purple and blue colours to paint dark parts on the green tunic, and I said, why not..we do same thing on paintings, right? I couldn’t follow tutorials for the beginners, they didn’t match up with me. I think that was the time when we realised that model painting in not just hobby, but an art where we can express ourselves. Still, I think that biggest shift to our artistic expression was when Marko did his first Stormcast model. He painted that model at the start of our studio, and reacted toward the new GW model as an inspired artist with a new, fresh white canvas. That was a big step in our style creation. Even if we didn’t realised that at the time.
Marko: Yes, we let our imagination go with it’s flow. And we didn’t bother ourselves with technical stuff too much. For me, painting should be something that we enjoy and that is pleasurable, so in the end it will lead to great results and creative artworks. As long as it is fun, it is good enough, Aleksandra agrees with that. My conclusion is that our bold approach created our style,
2 If I remember correctly your studio hit the web community middle of 2015 yet you already seem quite established. What was it that made you start up a studio?
Marko: It is all Aleksandra’s fault. Hehe, joke aside. We had some ideas for the future, but there were no serious talk in that direction. As we are both artists, painters and designers that just finished with studies, we were preoccupied by looking for a good job not realising how much our love for painting had grown and expanded.
Aleksandra: I started slowly, by deciding how to make our logo. After some brainstorming we got also our name! (At that time I was getting into the fluff of the Warhammer world, so Craftworld had no real connection to the Eldars whatsoever it is only now that I am familiar with the association). The moment when I sent files with logo, biographies and prepared works for our facebook page, Marko realised I was serious and it was only a matter of time until the studio would start.
Marko: So we jump into it. Shortly after, Aleksandra had won Roman Lappat’s miniature on Massive Voodoo giveaway. (Oh Fortuna!). She had a pleasant talk with Roman, as we were followers of their blog and we consider whole MV crew as people who are a great inspiration to us, Aleksandra used the opportunity to ask him for advice.
Aleksandra: Yes, and Roman was very kind and supportive. He gave us nice words of courage and told us what to expect on our artistic road. With banners raised high the saga of Craftworld had begun..
3 Your style seems a mix of vibrant primary colours, forced lights and strong contrast, almost like a modern day “old school” style. Can you explain how you plan and organise the painting process for your projects?
Aleksandra: This is hard to explain. We don’t have some step by step rule. We treat each model the same way we treat canvas. Something we could call first steps is like on canvas under painting, then our inspiration lead us to other steps. There is no strict rule, it is a matter of effect we want to achieve.
Marko: Sometimes I do high contrast on metal because of the atmosphere, and sometimes it is just because of the model style. I couldn’t say I do it on purpose. And I am glad that we have a style that is recognisable, but every project of mine has an idea and a story behind it, that is lead by inspiration, not imposed by style.
Aleksandra: I agree with Marko. I use different colours to achieve similar result, and I show that in tutorials, to create the idea that nothing is impossible. Because at my start I worked with only few colours, so I had to experiment and mix with colours to get the colour I desired. Now with so many possibilities, I still love to play and experiment, for me, that bring a a lot of fun and joy.
4 A lot of your work seems centred on figures from gaming systems such as Hordes, Warhammer and 40k. Is this through choice or as a result that a lot of people wanting commissions are themselves gamers?
Marko : A few years back for me Warhammer was only in video games although I saw some photos online of tabletop painted models. Until one day at my college, and now our great friend and fellow artist Darko Stojanovic, brought a model of a Rackham dwarf to our class.
I was stunned to see something so small and with so many details painted. Suddenly, I felt in love with miniatures. I will always look at him, as a main person to blame for my obsession with this art and hobby and I can not thank him enough for that.
Jay our interest in this hobby started with wargaming, especially Warhammer, and have been commissioned many times in those genres. However, we are expanding in other branches through our collaboration with companies such as Aradia Miniatures, Durgin Paint Forge, and The Banner Saga, Warcolours.
Many others with who we have produced reviews and promotions, also those like Pegaso Models, FeR, Mindworks Games, Pedro Fernandez Works..etc. as well as for sculptors such as Fancagne Didier, Peter Jaensch and Guilarme Vanson.
5 What artists, whether digital, traditional or figure, have inspired and influenced you the most?
Marko: There are many artists that inspired us but not all have had a strong influence on us. It mostly give us ideas and understanding of other ways and methods. We are always meeting new artists whose work inspire us. We will mention some of those artists now, such as: Frank Frazzeta, Paul Bonner, John Howe, Adrian Smith, Todd Lockwood, Gerald Brom, Tyler Jacobson, Jasper Ejsning, Karl Kopinski, Petar Meseldzija and many others besides.
Aleksandra: In hobby , there are a big number of artists that we still find as a great inspiration but there would be many names, and we are afraid not to leave somebody out. We must mention that big influence on our artwork is the natural world that surrounds us. Beautiful landscape, colours of the sky, cold shadows in forests as well as sky reflection in the water, we have always been big nature lovers, and as artists it had always inspired us. Marko’s family house is on the island, surrounded by water and natural beauties.
6 What’s your opinion on the #fucksmoothness?
Marko: We have spoken with Alfonso about this movement. Our opinion is clear with our doings. We stand before our opinion that in art there is no rule like “smoothness”. The point is to let the artist express himself and to have different approaches, to have fun and courage to bring his idea to life. We had difficulties in our development and we still do. The community have been great in accepting us, and we are happy for that support over the year and a half now, of our studio’s existence.
However, many still judge us for our style or there are some people who would not accept our style at all. But, as we said, it is our artistic expression. Just imagine museums today, if old artists decided to follow one movement or style? There will be copies of one another, so our opinion would be that everyone should follow their own path.
7 It’s curious that your two styles are similar and fit so well as a whole studio, is it chosen this way or just happy coincidence? Was it important for your studio to have a particular style or identity?
Aleksandra: It is partly a happy coincidence that we manage to paint similar. It could be because of our constant influence on each other from start of model painting. We didn’t see our similarity from the start, but that is good ability for bigger commissions that we work on. Our styles divide more visibly on our personal works, we are developing more in our individual artistic ways. We have been painting models for few short years now, there is still much learning ahead of us.
8 What paints and tools do you use and what is your “I can’t live without” item?
Aleksandra: White Primer! We both always use this primer, it really suits our bold use of colours. At the start of our studio we were sponsored by Warcolours Acrylic Paint company, so since then we use Warcolours in 90% of all our projects. Before Warcolours we used mostly Citadel and Game Colour but also some colours from lesser known brands. We still have some of our old favourite Citadel and Game Colours and have also found some favourites from Warcolours too.
9 What’s your opinion on the figure painting hobby and community at the moment?
Marko: We both think that the painting community has grown in the last year. There a lot of new studios, and many artists decided to follow their dream in miniature paining. Which is good, I feel that the hobby is expanding.
Aleksandra: There area lot of new miniature companies that are good and many of the already famous and established miniature companies expands on fantasy branches and other fields. Many great Model Shows are held, and yet to be and they are bigger from year to year. As we had heard, we visited three great shows this year.
10 What plans do you have for the future and what would you like to achieve?
We have many plans. First, we are working hard to provide important technical requirements for future tutorials and works of the studio. Next to miniature commissions, boxarts..etc We have many good collaborations and we hope it will stay that way and that one day we can expand in more fields in the model and gaming systems.
11 From time to time, us figure painters go through periods of “painters block”. No matter what we try we seem to hit an imaginary wall and we are not happy with anything we paint. What do you do to overcome this?
As we are not that long in this art field we still haven’t experienced painter block along our way. There are works that we are not satisfied with, but every project is a new experience. So in every next project we learn from our mistakes.
Also from things and experiments that were successful. Sometimes we just have no inspiration for some project, but that is easy, we are always working on several artworks, so if we meet the anti-inspiration worm, we shift onto other works. There are a lot of personal projects that awaits us.
12 What has been your biggest figure painting achievement so far?
Let’s say it could be because of our self criticism, but we both think that our biggest achievement in painting is yet to come.
13 Where does your interest and passion for Art and figure painting come from?
Our passion for art started since we were kids, we both have artistic spirits, always reaching to do something creative. And we went to art schools. We had meet on college. And our interest in art and hobby became even stronger. It is all accompanied by big interest in fantasy role playing games and wargaming as well as in fantasy literature and inspiration from great fantasy illustrations.
14 You have built some interesting and complex scenic bases, would you like to talk us through some of the considerations you make for elements such as composition, balance, materials etc?
Aleksandra: No matter if it is the display, gaming base etc, we like to tell as much story as is possible. We use many natural materials, rocks, wood, bark etc and also we like to sculpt (greenstuff, milliput, fimo etc). It depends upon the inspiration, and what falls under our hands and give us idea for some projects.
Yes many times have occurred that some particular piece give us a hint of inspiration. Regarding composition, we strive to achieve golden rule: to ensure we achieve balance. If we work on a model that is tiny, with great amount of details, we usually decide for a simple base. However, if we work on some simple model with few details, or some simple scene, we try to create more storytelling with the scenic base. If we want to express even more, there is always room for converting and sculpting. Some examples.
Marko: Despite the Orc Warboss being on a gaming base with limited basing space, I wanted to tell more of a story: “Mighty Warboss leading a savage attack on already battle-worn lands of Bretonnia….“ I have used bits from Bretonnia soldiers, Vampire counts, Wood elves and few things I sculpted. I wanted to present the scene that I experienced while reading a short Warhammer Bretonnian story. I have also converted the Orc Warboss to fit the image I had imagined.
Aleksandra: The small warrior adventurer, Selvambi, started her quest of finding her long lost tribe. She found some trails in a village where it was known that her kind once lived. Everything there is now consumed by the veil of nature, and it looks like all the answers are lost, yet her instinct tells her that there is much more to reveal and that in the shadows lies some dark truth that she must find and confront.
I imagined Selvambi on a quest to find her lost tribe and as she is in simple amour, I decided it to be of natural materials. Leather and non metal armour. I made a base with real bones and knitted the rope for my bone bridge. I wanted that sinister look to be there, hidden, but there, under the natural beauty.
15 How do you balance the need for quick painting to turn around commissions with actually developing your skill set to become better painters for the sake of competitions and shows?
Marko: For now we have painted mostly commissions at our highest level. We were painting personal and commission projects in the same spirit, so was easy to work on several projects at the time. It is good that with every commission we always have a great freedom to paint the model as we would like. Our clients were curious to see results based on our inspiration.
Aleksandra: Still, we are always trying to find balance and time for our personal projects. We want to improve more, and for that we need to experiment on bigger projects. To have more basing freedom and more freedom as well on converting and sculpting. Painting is something that we are working on to improve, everyday. So, every commission, projects and inspiration we get is a number of XP we are gaining to level up! Our message to all new and older members of community is to always express in their own way. Don’t get overburden by criticism and doubts of others. Make your own way and great things will follow.
We really would like to thank Jason, for this opportunity and it is really cool to be the first in this new series of interviews, NEXTGEN! Obviously we would like to also thank you all for reading, you guys are the best. We hope you enjoyed this little interview!
Marko and Aleksandra
Jason Martin is an award-winning painter, student of the arts and head honcho at Figurementors. His heavy metal listening, ex-forces exterior belies his true passion – to help you succeed on your personal journey to become a better figure painter.