Welcome readers, unless you have been hiding under a stone recently, then you will have heard at least a little about Dave Taylor Miniatures – The Art of …. Allow me to fill you in on the details and bring you up to date! I have regularly seen posts and snippets from within our community regarding a series of books about miniature painters by Dave Taylor. It wasn’t until this latest Kickstarter that I began to pay serious attention, as I know and love the work of all three painters, Chris Suhre, Seyni N’Doaye (both who have appeared in the Fantasy Edition of The Figurementors Magazine) and a fellow Brit Tommie Soule.
I am fortunate enough to have the first three volumes and hope to get my hands on the new set that is currently subject to an all ready successful Kickstarter campaign. With three weeks still to go, the Kickstarter is already funded with almost 500 backers! I took the opportunity to have a chat with the brainchild of this project, Dave Taylor!
THE BEGINNING OF DAVE TAYLOR MINIATURES
Dave Taylor was born and raised in Australia, although he has been living in the US for the last 20 years. He has been involved in miniatures painting for the past 31 years and worked in the toy soldier business for more than 27 of those years. He says that the best part about that is that he had the opportunity to meet many wonderful and enthusiastic people, all of them excited by some facet of the hobby. Dave is incredibly passionate about painting miniatures, and speaks of his joy to have been able to make a living working with them every day.
Let’s ask some questions and see what he has to say for himself!
1 – For those that don’t know what is Dave Taylor Miniatures and how did it come about?
For 14 years I worked for Games Workshop, starting out in retail and then moving on to the promotions and marketing side of things (where I got to put my Graphic Design degree to good use). I learned a lot focused around promoting new and existing ranges, and building communities of like-minded hobbyists. When I left GW, I went to work for Wargames Illustrated as the US Editor. I was able to develop more skills, and meet more people, and explore more avenues of gaming and painting miniatures. After five years, I decided I wanted to be my own boss, and started Dave Taylor Miniatures.
In the beginning I spent most of my time helping small businesses fill gaps in their skill sets. I would do photography, or editing, or layout, or event organizing, or community management. I slowly came to realise I wanted to create products (books, really) that would help people engage with the hobby on a deeper level. So, since 2018 I’ve been working towards making publishing my primary source of income. I still do consulting work for other companies, but creating the books I love comes first.
THREE VOLUMES, THEN SIX. WHAT NEXT?
2 – Tell us about the first three volumes in The Art of … series of books? Each seems different and to feature different styles and approaches…
I looked around at the market and saw that there were two main types of “miniatures painting books” available. The first is the instructional type, with step-by-step photos and colour guides, to help you improve some skill or other. The second was the inspirational style, filled with wonderfully painted models with a line or two of text to provide context. Now both of these formats can be great (I have a shelf of them myself), but I’m often left wanting more.
I knew the type of book I wanted to see was one that not only showcased the spectacular work of the artists, but also let me know what they were thinking about when they created their art, where their ideas came from, and what experiences coloured their approaches. And to have these things written by the artists and designed in close consultation to ensure everyone is happy with the end result.
The first three books are all different because each artist had something different to say about their art and the reasons they create the way they do. The Miniature Monthly team (Aaron Lovejoy, Elizabeth Beckley, and Matt DiPietro) are all full-time miniatures painters. However, they all have things they prefer to do, and they have different ways of getting them done. It made sense to show that a working collective like this team can be incredibly varied.
I’ve always converted my minis, and Christof Keil’s approach to kitbashing has really spoken to me, ever since I first encountered it. I learned so much while working with him that I can’t think about my converting in the same way anymore (for the better). And finally, I have followed Ana Polanscak’s work since she started posting on her Gardens of Hecate blog over a decade ago. The way she creates her worlds and tells her stories makes me want to explore them, and also dread what I might meet when I turn the corner.
I wanted each of these things to shine through, and that meant treating them all differently. The layout helps to bring the books together as a series, but the content is certainly not cookie-cutter.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS AND ORIGINALITY – DAVE TAYLOR MINIATURES THE ART OF …
3 – Explain the creative process for bringing a book to market and what insights can you provide about running a Kickstarter campaign.
I may have pre-emptively explained that creative process in the previous answer, but I will add that I love to have great conversations with the artists about how we’ll create their books. I might suggest a set of chapters and the artist will agree or want to change things up or they might suggest a flow and we’ll riff off of that. One of the most exciting things is that we’ll talk about something, or I’ll read a section and come across a practice or process they find a bit boring, or not worthy of any real note, but I’ll find it revelatory!
Then I’ll request we include a deeper explanation in the book. A great example of this is Elizabeth’s WIP shelf – a shelf where there’s absolutely zero expectation or guilt about whether or not the minis there will ever be finished. Brilliant!
Running a Kickstarter campaign is an incredibly large beast to tackle, but it’s a very important one for a small business like mine. It’s just me, so it’s difficult to come up with the money to pay the artists and the printers and shipping companies without the support that Kickstarter backers provide. This way I can make sure that everyone wins. I’m happy to come back at another time and answer more questions about Kickstarter itself, and suggestions for those contemplating dipping their toes in to fund a project they love.
4 – Myself and many others will surely know most of the Artists in the series so far, how do you choose those to feature? What special traits or characters are you looking for?
I think at the moment I’m in an incredible position, with so many wonderful artists that have something special to bring to the painting community. So far, I’ve been able to approach artists whose work I have enjoyed for a while, and have a particular style or approach that really resonates with me (and that I think will resonate with others). We can generally all call out something about other artists that we recognize as their signature skill set or passion or what-have-you, so what I have tried to do (and will continue trying to do) is create a good balance of different styles/approaches in each set of books.
I would want to avoid having two artists in the same set of books whose focal element was their use of colour, or their story-telling, or their terrain-building, and so on. They could all talk about these things, but I wouldn’t want them as an over-lapping focus. For example, I’d love to work on a book with Victoria Lamb and discuss her set design work for the theatre, but I couldn’t have her in the same set of books as Chris Suhre who’ll be talking a lot about composing dioramas.
I’m also keen to include a variety of artists from all around the world, so I’m developing lists of artists to approach from North America, the UK, Europe, Australia, and so on.
KICKSTARTER AND THE FUTURE OF DAVE TAYLOR MINIATURES
5 – Tell us about your current Kickstarter and the Artists involved!
The Kickstarter that is running now features Chris Suhre, an artist from the US who will be talking about story-telling and composition through his dioramas and other pieces. We have Tommie Soule (aka The Miniature Painting Tutor) from the UK, who has long been passionate about teaching people about painting. Tommie’s book features his fundamentals course, written down for the very first time as he tries to demystify the mechanics of painting and painting jargon.
Finally we have Seyni N’diaye from France. Seyni has been evolving his use of colour, texture, and patterns over the last decade or so. He has an eye-catching approach to the choices he makes to all his projects, be they his earlier wargaming armies or his more recent busts and larger scaled models.
You can check out the Kickstarter HERE:
Again, each approaches their passion differently, with different influences and ways of expressing themselves. Be ready for three more excellent volumes that are each as different as the artist they feature.
6 – Can we see some sneak peaks of the books coming up in the Kickstarter?
Sure thing! We’re at various stages with all three books. Chris is the closest to finishing his writing stage, so we have a few more ideas on how we’ll be laying out his various chapters. Tommie is almost finished the instructional portion of his book. Once that is done, he’ll be starting on the gallery of minis and armies that he wants to illustrate his ideas with. Seyni joined us most recently and has been getting into the rhythm of writing as we narrow down the things he’ll be covering. These sample pages will no doubt change, but they give you an idea of where we’re headed.
7 – What plans do you have for the future?
I would love to be able to release three or more books each year and really grow this series. I’d love for them to become the “go to” series of books when painters are looking for information and inspiration on a particular topic, be it colour, composition, story-telling, skilful techniques, and so on. These books will remain timeless; as relevant in 20 years as they are today.
That’s the goal, anyway.