As every red-blooded American tends to do, I decided a few months ago to turn my hobby into a business. OK, that’s a bit strong, I was actually asked to paint something for a gaming friend, and he gave me money for a job well done, and like a one-night stand turned relationship, things kind of just started happening.
Doing commission work is just like everything else in life; it has its good and bad. Do you find yourself wondering what painting for money is like? Do you have many sleepless nights with thoughts of painting for others rolling in your head? Do you wonder what it’d be like to wear a silk thong and sing Allman Brothers songs? Well, I can’t help you with the last thing (I am married, after all), but I’m all over the first two. Let’s discuss commission painting!
First and foremost, hell, it’s a way of funding our fairly expensive hobby, something my wife has been very appreciative of. Even while adding a couple of thousand points of units to my full and ally armies, I have spent no more than $100 out of pocket this entire summer. Not bad, says the man in Washington, as it leaves more money to spend in other parts of our economy. Anytime you can save money, do it. Money is always in demand in our modern world, like new iPhones and pop culture humor.
Secondly, it gives you a reason to practice new painting techniques. When a customer wants OSL on their piece, you better deliver OSL. Knowing you have to deliver puts a bit of pep in your painting step, not unlike having a blind date who thinks you have washboard abs. If they want a paint scheme you’re not used to (or yellow…*shudder), it forces you to really sit down and work through the aggravation. Before long, you’re at least sufficient at just about anything people can ask of you, which inspires others to ask for your services. See? You’re investing in your future
Probably my favorite “good” is that it allows me to paint a variety of models without having to spend any money. I only play Black Templars (with upcoming Grey Knight allies) and Alpha Legion and Tzeentch marines with Tau allies, so while I have a diverse collection, there are still plenty of things I don’t get to see on my painting table. With commissions, I can paint Salamanders, Death Guard, Tyranids, and all sorts of other armies, all without buying boxes I won’t use or snatching models from a baby in a stroller. GW is the new lollipop.
Deadlines. Oh, the deadlines. When you’re painting your own stuff, you can take your time, paint a model a week, if you so choose. If you’re doing a commission, well, you better get that model back to the owner asap. Tired after work? Tough. Girlfriend giving birth? Oh well. Alien invasion? Tell them to hold on a minute. Larry the Cable Guy said it best, “Git R Doen”.
Also, your free time for your own stuff starts to dwindle. I suppose this one is only as true as the demand you’re working with, but I know that I typically have three models painted per week in my personal collection, but haven’t completed more than five personal minis in the past month. Being busy is much better than being bored, but it does suck to watch all the model boxes pile up when you know you won’t be able to get to them for quite a while.
I might have forgotten earlier, but another downside is the deadlines. Wait, I said that? Damn. Well, it does hamper things. Just saying.
So Should I Do It?
That’s an excellent question, Billy. What it really comes down to is this; is time more of a factor for you, or money? For me, I knew that the summer was going to cost me a lot of money, and I knew I’d be painting a few nights a week no matter what, so I thought taking on painting jobs wasn’t such a bad idea. If you find your wallet bursting, but your free time dwindling, commission work probably isn’t going to be much fun. You’ll stress yourself out trying to complete everything on time, and you’ll stare at your plastic gray models and shed a tear. Even if you’re getting paid for it, commission painting is still part of your hobby time, so you have to make sure you’re enjoying yourself.
So while we’re talking models, I wanted to ask the community a question; do you all typically paint models *after* putting them together, or do you paint individual parts and assemble the models after. Here’s why I ask…
I’m thinking about trans-species surgery and…wait, no, you guys aren’t my therapist. Ahem. Never mind that earlier bit.
I ask because I’m a parts painter. I like the control that comes with painting bits first, and assembling later. There are no shoulder pads getting in the way, no knives covering any details, and no elbows preventing me from getting to a highlight. But lately I find myself drawn to putting some of these boxes together and painting them later. Now, I have a strict rule about only fielding models I’ve fully painted, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be nice to put the mans together and really see what they’ll look like before I turn my attention to the next model. Hmmm, I just don’t know.
So what do you do, my theoretical readers? Do you assemble then paint, or do you paint then assemble? Give me your thoughts in the comment section below, or send a Tweet to @CBMcGames. I’d love to hear some reader opinions.
So this post wasn’t all that funny. Give me a break! It’s 12:31 a.m., I start a new job tomorrow, and I’ve slept a grand total of 13 hours since Friday night. I’ll leave you with this gem. Kisses!
To Do: Discuss Commission Painting and Ask Painting Questions of the Community