Alfonso Giraldes – the FINAL PART
Hey everyone, well there has been a considerable delay in publishing the final part as we were busy with the ArtQuest painting competition and launching The Illustrated Historical Artist, all in all it has been hectic and quite stressful. However, I think you will really enjoy this last part and if you haven’t already you can read the first two parts HERE and HERE. So without any further distractions, lets get straight to the action.
15 – So we have Kirill Kanaev and textures, Sang Eon Lee’s perfect execution, Marc Masclans’ illustrative style, Dmitry Fesechko constantly looking for an original innovation, the beyond smooth approach of Kyriakos Simos. In such a small community how does one do anything original and what do you believe will be the next big innovation?
I think Kirill and Sang Eon are at the pinnacle of our Art, we will find others of less stature that are perhaps more stylish but this is about taste. You mention Fesechko and yes you are right, he is very creative and stylish and I believe is innovative and fresh though maybe not as technically perfect as others, or at least what people from miniature world wrongly thinks “technical” means.. because indeed , technique is a way to do things. Yet there are many different ways in the painting, so is a wrong concept we have been hearing for decades. What surprise me is how the style of his figures becomes very original, though it is difficult to value at a technical level as the beauty of the piece is the aesthetic importance and comes down to taste once more. The next step will be for a personal style or evolution and development of the technique, comprehension of materials, reflections, how the environment can behave and affect the various elements.
NMM is probably the main topic that will highlight this development as it is the one effect that still has not been fully understood or replicated to the purest level. To illustrate this, you can take a picture from google of battle scenes and the real armour and weapons, re-enactment and the such. You look at these images and you can see the effect of the environment and light on these materials and I believe this will be the next innovation. To make NMM even more complex and you can see this with Kirill’s work.
I did a box art for Pegaso Models, a new style for a classic pose of a Roman Legionary (Part 2), playing with interesting NMM steel and gold. Some people were surprised by the colours but if you observe in real life I think you will be surprised by how colourful and vibrant these metals can be, depending on the colours of the environment. After this Kirill took it to the next step, he created a Roman Legionnaire bust from Young Miniatures, probably the most impressive NMM Gold I have ever seen. Some people commented to me however, that they felt it looked off, I think they just were taken aback with how it looked, but again I say you look in real life and it is the same. Kirill had taken my direction and that of other painters, Bohun for example is enhancing and perfecting his understanding of the complexities of NMM, and has applied it to a higher level. Kirill will continue getting better and better.
If we continue talking about the development of our Art and the new innovations, I believe we will see more and more focus being placed on the various materials and how they interact with light and different environmental conditions. I remember when Jose Palomares and myself started to create the illustrative effect at Knight Models maybe eight or nine years ago, yet outside the company no one else was doing this, now we have Marc Masclans, Sergio Calvo, Kiril Kanaev who are developing this technique to a much higher level, taking the knowledge that others before them had created (Kirill was doing this also from 2004 so he is somehow an artist that has grown up in a parallel way as mine… but focussing more in the finesse than the expression , if that makes sense), this is a natural progression in learning, taking it more complex.
I think more and more people will have their own style, becoming more professional and painters will be able to be different, from each other and develop their own techniques. I am talking about the top painters, those who wish to improve as figure painters, not hobbyists, I understand for many hobbyists it is purely about fun or for gaming purposes, which is perfectly fine but is a different approach to painting.
The top artists in the industry are creating style, a perfect example is Roman Lappat, with his quick and refreshing approach that gives you an idea of a specific environment, and lighting and narrative. I know we have already spoken about #fucksmoothness but Roman is a very important name in our Art as he strives to create a wonderful style and it fits with my ideal. To be quick and brave with the brush strokes, turning a mistake into an opportunity, a stray stroke or colour could inspire a particular setting or ambience or create a new volume for instance. Things should not be painted only in a super smooth way but should be more instinctive and create a story, a believable character within an environment and do so quickly, changing the methodology and search for a more experimental and enjoyable way of achieving great results.
We need to save our World, when so many other Worlds are growing because they are easy, watching a movie, playing a video game for example is easy compared to our World where time, energy, effort, learning and dedication is usually needed to become a great painter. So bringing to this point, the concepts of quick, free, brave, emotive painting could become the revolution that our Art and our World needs to survive.
16 – Can you tell us about the projects that you distinctly remember where you levelled up?
For sure! My first Golden Demon entry ever was The Battle of Gunberg, as you mention in question 3, that was a level up as I learnt all about the composition, organisation and requires a much better understanding of the whole process and how each element has to work not only on it’s own but also within the bigger picture of the diorama.
Then I will say the Blood Pack, Slayer Sword in 2006, a long time ago and was my first 54mm scratch built figure, it was a level up regarding my knowledge of using clay, back then I would sculpt with Milliput, it was a milestone for me but more as a hobbyist.
Now I will say that The Duel represented one of my major milestones, not necessarily regarding use of colours, but technique, utilising different strengths of dilution, sometimes heavy body paints applied like a paste right through to glazes that were 99% water. It was also the first time I started using inks for their saturation and vibrancy, at a level where I understood much more about their pigment properties. It was also the time when I became aware of real Artist brands such as Windsor and Newton, Daler Rowney, Artists Acrylics, Liquitex and so on. This was an important moment in my development and I believe it was the beginning of my own style. It is when I started to realise that, when I came from a drawing background, 2D illustrations in my mind, that I could apply these illustrative skill sets to 3D subjects.
I would say the 75mm Iron Man from Knight Models, was the first time I was able to apply all my knowledge and techniques to a project as quickly as possible, it was then that I realise I was ready for bigger challenges. Then comes The Ghostrider, I am talking about paintings it was without doubt the culmination of the skills and knowledge I had begun to perfect with The Duel and the special edition Iron Man, actually a small level up would also be the Iron Man bust, it was a simple and slightly cheesy sculpt, composition wise it was poor if you paint with metallics it would look like a shiny lolly pop. I think I managed to create a 360 degree illustration in three intense days.
The next big step in my painting has been the series of Anon busts that I have done, like you say more than 35 versions ( I really don’t know how many). Many people are bored by them now and indeed so am I however, many Masters in Art history have carried it similar studies in light, reflection, environment, ambience, volumes, character design, understanding colours and different techniques, textures and facial details. creating a totally different persona simply through differences in how I controlled the brush and pigments.
I have done these with quick exercises between 80-110 minutes, I thin I have done two or three to a higher level of interaction maybe over two or three hours. I use to do this with a clock and timer, so this exercise to paint something to look cool, expressive and distinct between one and the next, each different, was a very useful exercise and believe it or not, offered me a major level up. I say this because each of these exercises represented a culmination of all my teaching experiences over the last four years, from all around the world, 30 plus classes etc but we have already discussed this in more detail a little earlier. This was the point that helped me realise that no matter what I visualise in my mind I am content and confident in my skills and experience to be able to create this within a 3D environment. I am super happy with where I am as a painter at present.
I have also areas in my Art where I have levelled up, for instance I remember several sculpting projects. The Blood Pack was the first. Then the Elf that I did for Scale 75, an ugly dark Elf that for some reason that I don’t know, it sold very well, so the people liked it. I think the concept was better than the actual sculpt and it was my first figure having made the transition from Milliput to Fimo. From this I used Super Sculpy firm, a level up as my brain started to understand all the information that Raul had provided me about these types of clays. He simplified so much, he literally asked me if I knew Bruce Lee’s philosophy, he taught me to go with the flow, that you are bamboo in a river! Seriously he told me this, it was so frustrating, because the clay was defeating me every time, I was sculpting in his home learning from him but at the same time I was his Art Director on the creation of the awesome Scale 75 Sorceror, “Invocatio”, which was my design and Art direction. This event was important to me though because a year or so later something just clicked and I was like whoa “this! This was what Raul meant” when he said go with the flow and allow the river to guide your movements.
Using these clays, with the waxy feeling it gives you, the tactile sensations, feeling it as you texture or cut, as you move it and manipulate it, is as if the clay talks to you, you can hear and feel it as you achieve new things. Many of these things you learn by accident only when you allow yourself to go with the flow. Don’t force the clay to adapt to your style, adapt yourself to the clay. This is how I learnt, from this point using Super Sculpy firm grey. I became much more confident, with the clay however, I do not sculpt very often and is a problem for me. Even though I am professional as in I charge for these commissions and sculpts for some very big companies I still do not consider it my strength. I am fortunate enough that I have created some beautiful items for Scale 75, NutsPlanet, Knight Models and ForgeWorld but my techniques are not well developed, my sculpting is rough and instinctive, I am more emotional shall we say rather than technically polished, I am not so confident with clay as I am with pigment.
17 – Beyond art and artists what factors in your life do you feel have moulded, directed and influenced you the most as an artist?
My father! Definitively, he was very passionate about Art, regularly taking me to the museums, driving my own interest and passion for understanding Art. Normal kids at my age had no interest in these things but I am so thankful to my father for surrounding me in Art. I was much more interested in this than say sports or film for instance so he was a big influence on me developing my interest in Art. Next I would say it is my attitude and passion, how I behave and react, my temperament, how I confront life, how I am with my friends and things that I love, those things that make my heart beat.
Then I would say that also my team Atletico Madrid, which is all about the team, passion, determination, dedication, to make me challenge myself and question myself. Many people can think I am “cocky” with how I conduct myself and how I express myself, I really think I express myself in a manner which is honest and straight to the point. I do not go around in circles and this helps me to confront Art although actually I do not consider myself an Artist, I am more a creative artisan with some artistic elements jejeje.
I love Art, it feeds my soul, my father, friends and my passions have all influenced this. It is difficult to talk about influences without mentioning other Artists, I think they influence me but not necessarily my style. They affect more my attitude, Raul for instance, in his early years was very much a rebel to what was considered the traditional methods and establishment, also a super talented genius.
Illustrators such as Frazetta and Brom, classic painters such as Velazquez, Caravaggio, Rivera, Tiziano, Rembrandt or Van Dyck, I also loved the super heroic, super exaggerated anatomies of Miguel Angel. I still remember copying him when I was 14 or 15 years old. Also the impressionists had an impact on me as a young child having never even seen these creations before, I would name Monet and Sorolla as my two favourites. I remember the first time I went to Paris, I went to the Impressionist Museum, Musee D’Orsay, this hit me so hard, in my soul, heart and brain, as like a punch to the face.
Then I think mhmm, yes, Roman Lappat as his attitude and character is so encouraging, so honest and friendly, I admire him as he is very much like me with honesty but I am also a little envious as he has such a better way of communicating his honesty than me, he is mhm (laughs) much more clever than me! I am not so clever to deliver my words softer and more eloquently but I am also driven by how I feel, in love, friendship and stuff I am passionate and brutally honest, I can not change this. There are many others that influence me but more from a personality point of view, for instance professional athletes, musicians, again the music I listen too is brutal and honest, maybe poetic but strong and often confrontational, I do not move round and round in circles, I am straight to the point and many of my influences and loves have caused this trait in me…. I don’t know!
Through my personal journey, around the world, meeting so many different people from so many cultures, artisans and Artists, because for me these are two different things, both are valuable and last but not least are my students. They have given me the opportunity to learn so much about myself and confront so many different personalities I am obliged to be useful to them as they pay hard earned money, are passionate, make time for me and my classes, really somehow, I love them and as crazy as it sounds they are the biggest influence on my life as a man and Artist over the last four years or so. Their reactions, love and respect for my work has fed and inspired me, has allowed me to grow, it is like a mirror. Despite my times as an employee for these big figure companies I have mentioned, I still felt alone and isolated, I did not know what people thought about my attempts to create innovative and interesting characters, then when I meet my students, all over the world, I have met so many great people, I can say I am overwhelmed and it is something I really want to say in this interview, to take the opportunity, because they are the most important support for my day by day work life.
Also I would say my wife, somehow she is definitely not into this world, it is not something she naturally understands or supports but she supports me and more than that understands me. I am not an easy person to get on with, my passion is also a curse, it comes hand in hand with a bad temper, I am going from almost depression to happy, then depressed and then super optimistic, then everything is shit and I want to quit everything, then I love my work and I am super motivated again, then I have doubts and I am not strong with this. Sofía though keeps me stable, upright never allows me to fall down, or committing suicide sometimes I have been under real depressions and she has been the boat that kept me alive inside the ocean of doubts and bad feelings, she is a constant in my life, a pillar of strength, without her I am really sure I would not be where I am.
I have met and developed so many relationships and built so many bridges because of her, she is my energy, a guide and encourages me to travel, to teach, to speak, to allow me to be me without prejudice, without control. She can also act as my conscience (a good angel talking to my brain saying you cannot do or say these things) and other times she is like “hey you are #fucksmoothness, this is your way, your passion, your style this is you and if people do not like it hey it is you, you are creating your way and path and so many people are happy with this, you are a symbol to so many people who also share the same point of view, let’s keep going in this way, fuck smoothness!”. She was the first to fully support this, indeed I asked two people before I started this movement with the title of my entry of Monte San Savino 2015 (picture please), one was my little painting cousin Marc Masclans.
I think he is an essentially good person I can rely on, and that understands my way of being but he is extremely well mannered and polite, so I asked him and then Sofia. If she said no I would never gone with this title… but she actually told me:
“Alfonso, I think that claim is exactly YOU, so, be honest as you are, be free as you are and express yourself as you would do among friends.. as you are like this and this represents your passion, your thoughts and how you teach to your students.. direct and honest.. and moreover, you need to shout this, and it has a good meaning behind that many people will understand as many of them know you. Even if some don’t accept it, you are going to be sincere with yourself and be real by making noise and throwing a reflection to your beloved world, so this is how your art expresses itself. Banshee needs to shout, that’s an element of the meaning of a Banshee”.
That was what she said to me and was the reason I decided to start making noise in this way, somehow she started this movement and she is so very important to me!
18 – This painting tour of Canada marks a drastic change in your painting class schedule, the sense that previously you would do one class in the U.K. in Germany and others around Europe and so on. Do you see yourself replacing single classes with Painting Tours and what are the pros and cons of tours over the single trips?
Yes absolutely! I think this will be how I approach my teaching from now on and into the future. As you know I was recently married, I want to have a baby and I can have more than 100 days every year in a different bed, in a different home, in a different country with different people and students. I have had so many incredible experiences doing this and met and stayed with some incredible people but it is so super tiring. It drives me crazy sometimes, it is important to have your normal rhythm with friends and family in your home town, building your home and family and having your loved ones around you.
I will need to attach four or five workshops into one tour, this will be more efficient and is actually very exciting as I am currently developing new courses for my students. These can be done in two or three different weekends in a row, where students can subscribe to single or a cluster of classes depending on what topics they wish to study. The pros are that I have the chance to meet many people, it was a great platform for me to spread my #fucksmoothness concept or movement, to meet wonderful people from all walks of life, I will not name them as there are so many, but it was incredible. The cons invariably revolve around time, I had little time to see and experience this amazing country of Canada. I can say I know Canada but not as well as I would like, I would have loved to hire a car and see much more. Money is also an issue, I need to make money from these classes as it is my job and Canada is quite expensive.
I have been in many beautiful places and one example I can give is the Museum of Dinosaurs that I visited with Dallas, was great as it was a childhood dream. At the same time is exhausting, I was almost deaf in my right ear, I had many headaches and it was exhausting. The time difference and the size of the country meant I also felt even more isolated from friends and family, that so much was happening but I was not a part of it. It was like an emotional hurricane; these trips can be very difficult for me. Sometimes very lonely, but if I look at it in a balanced perspective it was very positive for me however, I look back now and it was too long, was like a marathon event, never done before by anyone, so the next tour will be shorter. I don’t want to lose the chance to be grateful to all the lovely people I met, that treat me so well and made this an amazing experience, but it was also hard as I guess every beautiful and huge experience in life can be.
As an experience it was amazing, somehow I was so loved, respected and well treated that was an additional payment to me, so thank you to all the students there, they made me very welcome and so I offer them now my love and big hugs!
19 – We are aware that there is a vast difference in the approach to figure painting say in Europe compared to America, how would you describe the scene in Canada compared to the rest of the World?
Wow that is quite difficult to answer but I believe there is a major factor that influences the painting community in Canada and that is the vastness of their great country. The people of Canada, or at least those that attended my classes, were humble and very keen to learn, they were some of the best students. However, the distances between the cities is so vast there is no close knit community such as we have in Europe, they are very much alone.
They do not have big events such as in Europe, we are very lucky as a figure painting community in Europe. We have the opportunity to go to a contest and see and compete with the very best figure Artists in the World! We can meet, talk to and see the works of Komets, Lappat, Picca, Kirill, Masclans, Rusto, Murelli, Calvo, Pisarski, Kontraros, Gallardo, Saavedra, pfft you choose there are so many, I mean no offence if I do not mention someone, this was just to make a point. All of these guys are in one contest, they do not have this in Canada or even in America, where historically the painting was centred around the Wargaming scene. It has begun to change slightly in America now but Europe is still the place to be when we consider figure painting as more than a hobby and more like an Artform with Artists. Figure painters in Europe are very lucky.
They are very isolated in Canada, with little connection, but their desire to learn, their attitude and how they embrace the hobby is very positive. They welcomed me in the greatest way, every class they were super open, I never felt uncomfortable, that there was no misunderstanding in what I was teaching, they interpreted my ideas and techniques perfectly. Sometimes in Europe you can try to fill a class with enough students but fail, in Europe I have had cancellations because, through no fault of anyone, the painters feel that if they can not attend this class then maybe in a few months they will attend another one of mine. Whilst in Canada, due to the logistics and costs, the courses are more rare, so the students were super avid, passionate and anxious to attend the course, to learn and to take the maximum from the experience.
Everything I got from them was awesome, I think the community there will definitely grow but perhaps a little slower due to the limitations I mention. However, there are people like Dallas Madill (who has created the Alberta Painting Society), Matthieu Fontaine and others who are passionate to develop the figure painting scene in Canada. I think we can expect to see it grow over the next twelve months and I hope to return as fell in love with Canada and it’s people!
20 – This year the sponsors pulled the plug on Euromilitaire, 2016 was the last ever show (at time of interview however, it has since been reincarnated as Euro Miniature Expo), what is your opinion on this, that what for decades was considered the finest figure show is now dead?
To be honest I do not like to talk about topics that I do not have much knowledge of and I had never attended Folkestone. I feel sad for what Euromilitaire represented for so many and I grew up following the show and the winners, looking at the entries in the magazines and such. At the same time, my opinion is that some contests are dying because they have not evolved as the painters and community have evolved. That the judging system is maybe flawed, it is possible at some shows to win an award, almost just by turning up, thousands of awards being presented, which to me deteriorates how important the award should mean. It has no sense to have an open contest where everyone wins, everyone is happy, sure but the awards have no value.
I am particularly committed to MSS, attending as a competition, a judge, on hand to help the organisers or to present a workshop, I think other contests should look at the death of the glorious Folkestone and take note that contests need to evolve, develop and change their mentality to suit the community and competitive, showcase painters. Also Monte San Savino should think about this. You cannot make everybody happy, this just doesn’t work in life. Either you turn the contest into exhibitions, which I would support as I think it should be the final goal. Or if we keep the competition, we should give the award the importance that it deserves.
It is not normal that every contest, half of the community in Facebook are showing the same medal, no distinctions between categories, or even if the prize is to the full display or just a single mini. I always as a judge, clarify to the organisation, which are the displays that got an award for the FULL display, or only for one mini. And I think is important.
Also a very important thing I said during many participations in many contests. Especially in MONTE which is my favourite event. I always talked about the necessity to use the social media to tell the hobbyist , which are the goals that the jury are searching for. Thoughts and opinions that will through some light to the lack of knowledge about what’s going on inside the contest. There are actually already medias such as yourself with figurementors, or Volomir or even the contest itself who could potentially give the impressions of the jury and this will be very useful for all the hobbyists. It will also be a good way to show, who is being a jury just because of his name, or who really is able to defend and explain his reasons to judge.
Not everyone is able to be a good jury. Same as not every good painter is a good teacher. Not every good painter or modeller has the knowledge, the fair judgement, or the courage to be honest with himself and the others. I have seen this in many events. Not everyone should be a jury. I even say something more, maybe the creation of a professional group of jurys, would be interesting. A group of people that could put themselves in front of a camera to explain through social media or youtube, why and how they have judged the competition.
I would do this without any problem!
Here you can check an interview that fortunately massive vodoo recorded while I was being interviewed by the other media. Thanks to Roman and Raffa for uploading the real answer without post edition, otherwise this conversation of the youtube video wouldn’t have any sense. I like when people show my words in a real way, not with some copy/paste that changes the sense of my words. This opinion about which things can be done in the contest to keep on growing and developing along with the community and the days we are living… this is something I have been proposing to all the contest I have attended since 2011. Yet for whatever reason, the contest always find excuses for not interacting with the people. When in my opinion, not using the social media in favour of the community is wrong, but surely there are major reasons why this idea seems to be not interesting for the organisations, clubs, and associations and here is where I stop talking…
But I just assure you something, If people really push the contest and events to be more transparent, then many things can be done, the power to change things is in the hands of the community. They are the soul of the events, contest and so on. I don’t understand why the judgement has to be secret after the contest. In any other world, the juries are professional enough, they have speech enough and they have enough reasons to vote one thing or the other that they would not have any troubles to give a small review or opinion about the contest. At least I wouldn’t have any problem and I think it would be interesting and instructive for the readers or followers.
21 – We talk about our world dying, you yourself have used Latorre as an example, yet I believe there maybe something even more sinister to the situation. One point of view may be that nowadays everyone wants their slice of an ever decreasing pie. By that I mean that there are more and more small figure companies starting up every month. This past year, half a dozen of my friends have told me they’re starting their own range. Yet in the most part everyone is doing the same thing, another barbarian, orc or dwarf!
In the past we had half a dozen, established figure companies who were responsible for creating the vast majority of the figures on the market. Now the hobby is awash with new releases from many small companies, it seems to me that at a time when we need to be strong together as a community with an organised and consolidated effort to evolve the hobby, to move the Art form forward, we are instead all determined to own something of our own and take from the hobby. What is your opinion on this?
Wow, it is difficult for me to give a complete answer as in many ways I am also part of this process, working for figure companies and selling to the hobbyist, I am part of this craziness somehow. However, I am also in agreement, in fact this is something I have discussed with Roman Lappat and he provides a really clever metaphor for this phenomenon. He told me “sometimes it is better to see a small forest with large, settled and impressive trees that will last forever, rather than a vast forest, reaching as far as the eye can see, with tiny, weak trees that will surely all die, one after the another”.
I agree everyone seems to want to be a producer, a businessman, to have a company and I am no one to tell someone else to top, we have the freedom to do what we like. Yet I feel the industry is losing perspective and to an extent is also the fault of the Artists who are dropping their prices. They are charging ridiculous prices, creating masterpieces in some cases and charging shit money, just to ensure that they can attract more jobs.
In my opinion we should copy our biggest brothers, industries such as video games and illustration, where the great names are making good money and developing their personalities, creating astonishing Art for a large audience. This will also ensure that the really small companies do not “hide” the great Artists. So what is the problem with this? Anyone nowadays, if you have €10,000 or even less can say ok I can afford to commission three top sculptor, three top box artists who earn shit money, take advantage of this and start a new company. Usually we find these companies have no unique selling point, no defined idea, no specific style, it is a copy of a copy of a copy.
If you pick say fifty companies, how many of those have a clear style, guideline and personality that defines them. In the past it was possible to differentiate between Andrea and Pegaso, Knight Models and Rackham and so on. Now it is not like this, everyone is copying and I do believe from one angle the Artists are at fault for accepting cheap prices, if they raised their prices, the companies would have to pay the true value. It is ridiculous that a company can buy a original sculpt from a master sculptor for approximately half the average monthly income of unskilled employment, a regular job in the U.S, that makes no sense, it is also the fault of the clients and customers who accept everything that they are presented with, I see it all the time. On Facebook I see the comment “oh my god this is the best figure I have ever seen in my life” every day of the week. This means either you have never seen any other figure in your life or you need to make an appointment with your optician as you are going blind! We do not like to be honest with ourselves and others, Facebook is full of people kissing ass, rather than being honest. Why not say “hey I think this needs improving” or ” the composition is not balanced” or “this design is not well considered”? We generally do not do this because then the community rises up against us and attacks you. We see them say this is amazing but then they do not buy the kit, so what is the point?.
This is like a vicious circle we are part of and I can only see it ending badly, people are not realising that we are killing the hobby that we love, this is true. People say “no it can not die, what are you talking about, every day there are new companies”, OK this may be true but for each that is born another dies without anyone noticing. It means there are no large, strong companies in the industry and this will be devastating in the end for the Artists. We will all suffer this, so we need to reflect very much what is happening now and work to prevent a very sad ending. Years ago Andrea would sell 8,000 copies of one release, Latorre selling I do not know even more, much more maybe 15,000 copies just because those were so amazing, impressive and unique. You create something unique the people will pay properly for it.
Let me choose an example from another industry ok? If you see a new movie from Spielberg a couple times a year, do you think you will have the highest expectations of that movie? Why do people always go and be amazed at a Scorsese movie, I tell you, it is because he releases one maybe every five years. That is the point. We are seeing the same Artists, release maybe twenty references a year! So I think it deserves a deep reflection but is difficult to explain like this, but I tell my friends and students, I promise you if things do not change the hobby or figure Art or whatever you wish to call it at the worse will die and at the very least will not develop into anything greater, it is stagnating!
No matter if there are more companies, this is sad, at the moment we are witnessing the highest level in sculpting, painting, of pioneering new techniques and styles, yet at same time the money being paid to the artists is at all time low. So now everyone is fighting against each other, trying to find the popular selling figure, so everyone is copying every one else, releasing figure after figure, because the price is low to get them the job but then they need to produce many figures to be able to make a living and it is easy to recreate popular ideas and concepts rather than searching for something unique. I like dwarves, but another one in the same pose, with same elements, same weapons from another one I saw just one month ago and people are still saying that is amazing! Really come on!? We should be able and willing to support the new and original themes yes?
Like if you see Shaetann by Mproyec, this is a figure that deserves our support, deserves to be sold out! Why? because it is a demon, not original by itself but it is a demon that had a wonderful design by Latorre. You can sense how he has caressed, cared, loved this miniature, the details, packaging, Art, it deserves to be supported. Do not get me wrong, many companies work very hard and are creating nice figures but copying the tried and tested clichés I do not think is good for the industry. I am not saying that we should not do barbarians and dwarves etc any more, but we can make it our style, create it your way, create your stamp of authenticity and originality. We have fifty companies that have some good miniatures, yet I can tell you from observing, it was painted by Marc Masclans and sculpted by Joaquin Palacios, but I have no idea who the company is. Both of these Artists work for maybe ten companies at the same time, that is not an attack but is an observation on how our industry is going.
Before if you see a Palacios sculpt you knew the design and style belonged to Andrea, Andrea Jiula was Pegaso Models, so you related those figures directly with the idea and the company. So fans and supporters were not just appreciating the sculptor but the company, they became a fan of a particular company and it’s style, personality and the ideals that that company stood for! Nowadays it is single miniatures that look cool that we admire but no longer associate with a given style of a company, our minds are so full of references and designs and names that it is maybe too much. I think if you create a company bring your own personal style, those companies that do are the most successful, Nocturna has a certain line of miniatures, when you see a figure of theirs, you recognise the sculpt and the painting style as belonging to Nocturna. Even a company that is eclectic and reproducing ideas from lots of sources of inspiration it can still enforce it’s own style upon the viewer, at the moment there are more and more examples where I can not differentiate one figure from another and tell you who produced it, I think this is a pity.
22 – Continuing on from where we earlier discussed the lack of imagination within the figure painting community, I recently read an interview with the now sadly passed Shep Paine, who said “that he was discouraged, in fact that so few modellers fail to grasp a basic truth. I will see people standing around a piece saying Wow that is a beautiful diorama! NO it is not, there are three beautifully painted figures and there is a beautiful painted tank, but it is NOT a beautiful diorama! It tells no story, there is no narrative”.
He also talks about a general lack of imagination in figure painting in general and yet here we are 15 years later and we still have the same issue. Why has it taken this long and still no one seems to have recognised this or made strides to rectify the issue?
This is a very personal question, yet fundamentally I do not think that too many figure painters or hobbyists have a high level of education or knowledge of Art in general. Most of the people who are fans of Illustration and Fine Art, who may not know everything, at least try to delve behind and into the story of their interest, to understand the trend, evolution and history of their chosen subject of interest. This does not happen in our industry or figure painting world so much. I have seen many modellers, many many, who will instantly recognise the wonderful work of Ben Komets but have no idea who is Shepherd Paine, wow, this for me makes no sense. I do not know if I should laugh or cry!.
Shepherd Paine was the first super star of figure painting and modelling, a pillar of our community and society, for me, himself, Mike Blank, Bill Horan, Raul Latorre and some others such as Speranza and van Gills, predominantly historical painters, but were ALL pillars. If you are a real hobbyist, like I was and now I guess I have to say I am a professional as it is my career and my hobby is something different, you need to know about this! If you love and have a passion for figure painting, for me, you must immerse yourself in all elements of your hobby and to know the history is so important.
Now, we have some people who were a hobbyist and now want to make a company, they have no fucking idea who these people were, what they gave to the figure world, what ground breaking projects they created, what techniques they developed. They do not care about the history or longevity of the industry, they post their new release to Facebook and all that matters is the two hundred people telling them how great they are and that the figure is the best thing they have seen in their life (again!).
They are not searching for something different or original, come on guys?! Looking at what Marjinn van Gills has been creating over the last two decades, this guy is original and innovative, pushing the boundaries and is he standing around talking about himself and how great he is? No! He is a true Artist, a master! So many people will have no idea who he is as they are not interested! So yes it is a problem, I am not sure it is a lack of imagination, it is a lack of willingness to spend effort to achieve something. You know the easiest and cheesiest way to achieve a modicum of success? To cheat and copy? Black Sailors reinvent the Orc image, but we should know that it was first Allan Carrasco, many years ago who brought this style even to the old golden demons. People see it sells well, so they copy, what else has sold well? Dwarves? OK let’s copy this Dwarf design and sell some units. Come on!
Again though I believe the blame for this can to an extent be placed at the feet of the client, the paying customer, many do not demand originality and quality, nowadays any company, and yes I say this with passion and anger in my heart, is blatantly copying the work of an Illustrator, Film Director, Game Industry, DeviantArt etc and casting it and selling it to make money. I am not talking about individuals recreating work in this way as FanArt, I am talking about companies who are openly, copying another Artists concept or subject matter and seeking to make money from it! I know many super skilled, super talented Concept Artists who are literally starving and struggling to make ends meet as they can not get a contract, who are desperate to collaborate and work with a company on new and original concepts.
Listen Jay, some months ago I was in a workshop, first time in twelve years that I was the student and not the teacher, with Karl Kopinsky! So I decided to go and have this refreshing mindset to be a student of one of my favourite Artists ever! I was there and the class was full with young people, many were great draughtsman, grown up with knowledge of digital drawing, maybe since the age of 8 have been using and developing their understanding and knowledge and practice.
It is not so common Jay for you and I, it is a little more alien for us as we are now getting older yes? and we must accept this my friend. However, I still try to stay fresh and in touch with what the younger generation is doing and try to learn and keep up as otherwise you become the old, boring guy that you criticised when you were young, brave and very loud.
Now I can see from the perspective of someone who has been professionally in the industry for 13 years or more and I am able to respect the old as well as the new however, I knew these masters. I met Shep Paine and many of the others at competitions and shows and expos, I am big friends with some of them and I feel part of this classic world but back then I was the loud, brave guy, wanting a revolution and to have people listen to my ideas and to be recognised blah blah. Not bullshit, but said without knowledge enough or without the experience you have to have to have a real opinion about something.. now it is different. I talk from the perspective of a 33 year old with a wife, home, business, working professionally with a list of good and bad experiences and I feel part of the unfolding story of our industry so far.
It would be very interesting for me to get together these “young” owners of companies within our figure world and say OK you know you are trying to get the biggest slice of our “figure pie” as you can, but the pie is small so your slice is also small. Why not get a slice of a bigger pie? How to do that? We must create business, do not steal intellectual property from gaming industry where that audience will never see the product, our community is small, do not go to DeviantArt and steal an image you think is cool. This is harmful for our miniature world and the professionals that had dedicated so many hours on learning, growing, travelling, experimenting, succeding and failing. We should respect that and there is enough talent inside our world to create our own concepts.
You have some money so why not hire a professional, talented Concept Artist, you know the one who is working in McDonalds as he can not find work, why do you not give him an opportunity, a salary and create new, innovative and original ideas for your company’s figures? Develop your own style and brand. Then we will see our figure world grow, but why is everybody copying and stealing?
Cheers everyone! Thank you so much for reading, I hope you find this BIG interview very interesting, it was a pleasure to share this experience with Jay, the team and you the reader, my fans who have always supported me and urged me forever forwards, thank you!!
So there we have it, the untarnished truth from one of our greatest, bravest and loudest. I see things in a very similar way which is why I guess I was able to consider and ask the questions I asked. There is a Brave New World awaiting us but I’m in agreement with Alfonso, things need to change, the mindset needs to change in my opinion and everyone to an extent has a responsibility to see the new vision become reality.
We hope you have found the interview informative and interesting, if somewhat challenging and confrontational but again that’s what we need, a revolution, a confrontation, listening to ideas that may feel uncomfortable to us, yet when we are finally able to see the bigger picture, then we will realise our Hobby into a true, growing Artform. I can not thank Alfonso enough for all of this, I take it as an honour and privilege to be the one to lift the lid on Alfonso, the Artist, the Man, the Husband, the Legend. Love you bro, as a true friend. Let’s go! (Ed.)