Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A new life and... Commission painting service?

July has seen the initial implementation of a new government contract, that governs remuneration in my industry sector. It has been met with great uncertainty and apprehension by industry contractors, in part because the government still doesn't know the full implications of what they propose, and yet we are forced to sign this contract to get any money at all, at this stage...

The result, is that my boss is quite uncertain how things are going to go for us and quite candidly stated this today. The possible implications being that he, and I, could be out of a job... perhaps Nostradamus was right after all, about 2012!

Of course I could seek employment with another business within the industry, or consider switching countries (again!), but it made me ponder, is it time to simply get out and do something else.

I had always wondered if my 'hobby' could sustain me?

So, I thought about offering a commission painting service.

Obviously you can see the standard of my work by looking through this blog.

At this point I don't know what my charges would be, but would guess there would be a range of costs depending on what level of painting standard was required, and what figure scale is involved.

A flat base colour would be cheaper, than a more expensive shade and highlight.

Basing would be another factor.

Obviously there will be shipping cost implications; the commissioner, would have to pay to ship the figures to me and cover costs for their safe return.

The other factor would be what turn around time I can realistically achieve. At the present I paint in my spare time for my pleasure. How much I could get done on a full time basis, who knows...?

At the moment, I am still in full time employment, and this is likely (I hope) to be the case for the next 6 months or so, thanks to 'interim payments from government' until they figure out whats going to happen... and we get to grips with the true implications of this new contract.  

This is all very much up in the air at the moment, and perhaps I am just rambling...

... or there again, this could be the way forward...

...at this point I am unsure...

...but... if you have experience of other painting services, and can give me idea of likely charges, and perhaps, more importantly, are interested in offering me a commission, please get in touch and we can chat through the proposal. No promises yet though!

Oh, I'm in New Zealand, if you didn't already know, so that could impact on shipping costs...


  1. Scott,

    That stinks about your job, I know all too well the feelings your going through, best of luck my friend.

    As for your questions, check out my Painting Service, Saguaro Painting Service http://saguaropainting.blogspot.com/

    Take a look at my pricing and feel free to use any or all of it. If you have questions feel free to contact me and I will do what I can.


    1. Hi Tim, thanks very much for that, I really appreciate it.

  2. Well, I can certainly vouch for Scott's painting abilities, having seen his figures many a time across the table in real life.

    I too may be in a period of job uncertainty soon, with my training contract coming to an end in a few months ...

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Roly. Much appreciated.
      You do fine work yourself Sir! Perhaps we should go into partnership? ;-)

  3. Until you become well-known (and even then), I would expect commissions to be very uneven in their size and timing.

    This would not be a "steady income" situation . . . so unless you have enough of a nest egg to survive intermittent income, I'd be wary of jumping into it too hastily.

    -- Jeff

    1. Wise words Jeff, thanks for the input.

  4. So many factorys closing down and bulk job lose. It sounds a little scarey at the moment with manufacturing here in Australia doing it hard at the mo. Best of luck fella.

    1. Thanks mate I appreciate it...

  5. Your work is top notch, try out Brian's blog http://www.leadlegion.com/

    1. Many thanks Fran, I'll do just that.

  6. The uncertainty of the situation must be terrible and I wish you every success in a speedy return to normality. A great idea with regards to a painting service, especially given the quality that is on show here.

    1. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement Michael.

  7. Sorry to hear about the job situation Scott.
    Sadly I fear the local market for your outstanding work is too small to guarantee a steady and lucrative income. One of our group tried it whilst going through a job drought and found the costs of advertising and getting established outweighed the meagre income. Kiwis are very tight with the purse strings and generally under-rate the value of peoples time and effort when paying for services.
    Also I fear you may lose the passion if you have to paint to a time table day after day. Working from home actually requires greater discipline and the distractions are not condusive to production.
    Best of luck.

    1. Thank you for the frank reply.
      If truth be told, I cant see a 'painting service' equating to my current income... it would mean a serious down size in the domestic dwelling.
      It might do as a stop gap, between 'things'... I dunno. Or perhaps an extra top up to income...
      But as you say when hobby becomes income, your hobby ceases to be, and loses its 'fun' dimension?
      Its certainly been an interesting exercise to gather these comments...
      As I say its still very early days... and I suppose the logical next step, should the worst happen, would be to look for similar employment within industry, but where that would be I dont know...
      If I find myself in that position, whos to say there arent more similarly affected folks out there...
      There were some very nervous faces at a meeting about this I went to last week...
      Might the little guys go under, and the big guys gobble up their local shares, and thus need more hands on deck to do the extra work? Who knows, its all conjecture...

      The odd thought at the bottom of all this, is New Zealand, often appears to be a testing ground for new ideas to affect the rest of the globe... it will be interesting to see if this contractual concept will be extended beyong these shores in time to come... so shifting countries again for me, may just delay the inevitable...

  8. Good luck Scott with your current job and if you do decide to paint fulltime good luck with that too.

    1. Thanks Roger, fingers crossed whatever happens , works out!

  9. That stinks about your job! I'm in the same boat as you Scott, I may be out of a job by mid November, and have been thinking of exactly the same thing!

    1. Thanks Ray, sorry to hear your news too! Fingers crossed for the both of us!

  10. I hope your job situation improves!

    From what I understand from folks who do it in order to be a full time figure painter you have to be fast and reasonably good to level out at even minimum wage. If you make a name for yourself your work load can come down and your prices can go up where you can make a decent occupation of it. As with anything in professional freelance work things go up and down.

    Either way I wish you the best of luck!


  11. That is not good to hear - about changes in regulations that affect your livihood. Hope you keep your current job, or the new endeavor works out even better, if it ends that way. Best wishes, Dean

  12. Thats not sounding good Scott - fingers crossed for you.

    As for freelancing it in the figure painting. Hvae a good think about your terms and conditions best to set things up front with te client. Deposits , payment due in x days , frequncy of updates. And bear in mind most wargamers are cheapskates! But hey it can be fun!

  13. Scott,
    Sorry to hear that the jobs at risk.
    Plenty of painting services around so some must be making money I use quite a few in the uk prices vary between £5 -£9 per figure for inf and £8-£15 for mtd.As others have said once you build up a rep for quality and reliablity then the orders should follow.
    I did have a go at doing this in my twentys and painted a couple of thousand figures mostly 15mm but as others have said it does spoil the hobby for you.
    If I were to do it again I would paint Napoleonics and sell them as ready painted units. Collecters of these never seem to have enough! Have a look on ebay uk some of the better quality painted figures command a decent return.
    I see figures from artmaster or waterloo 1815 going on the uk site almost weekly and seem to make decent money.

    Good luck whatever you decide and why not give it a try while you are still in the job it.

    Best wishes


  14. Guys, thanks again for all your words of wisdom and encouragement.
    Painting up Napoleonic units might be an interesting start to see what response I get, thanks Willie.

  15. Hi,
    Alot of my advice, as a painter, has been said, you gotta be fast, accurate, disciplined and consistent.
    Also, clients vary hugely in what they expect. "Terms and Conditions" are a little too officious for most 'solo' painters, who prefer a more personable approach; I like to simply tell people early on to check out my site's 'service guide' pages and briefly explain how I'll be running the project. Let them know when you'll be sending photos through, when's their last chance to change their mind on colour schemes (for me its after the mini's have been assembled and primed unless they want to spend more money!)
    Price your work sensibly. There are actually loads of painters out there, from solo artists through to large asian/african etc 'factories' producing anything from incredible one-off dioramas to mass-produced 15mm armies. Have a look at what they charge, time yourself painting some models to equivalent levels, setting up for photos and emails and writing out quotes, energy bills over that time period etc etc and decide if you could afford to charge the same amount for the time it takes you. That's the crux of it for you, time+costs MUST be EQUAL to income+profit... no point in doing it if it can't buy you new paintbrushes/modelling putty/food/socks!
    Finally, don't expect to get consistent returns straight away, business can be erratic - one week nothing, next week too many projects taken on to make up the shortfall...
    Good luck

    1. Hi Ben, thanks for your input - I appreciate it.

      Professionally things seem stable for me for the next 7 months or so... After that the Govt. 'interim' payments are cut in half, and we have to be up and running with the scheme of the new contract... that will be when things become uncertain... until we see just what impact its really going to have to the business...

      With some other folks suggestions, in the meantime, I am contemplating painting up units or forces for various game systems (Napoleonic 28mm, FoW, Saga etc etc )where there is likely to be demand, and selling these... That way I can do them in my own time at the moment, so there is no rush, and see what happens after that.

      At least that will get my head round the idea of selling what I have just taken so long to paint!

  16. Hey Scott, sorry for taking so long to respond to this. For what its worth here's my 2 cents. If you're really contemplating on doing this full-time you need to think big, with large enough volumes to make your effort worthwhile. If I were in your shoes I'd look into hiring a crew of painters to work with me. Focus on a couple specific periods and build a reputation on good, clean work with a fast turnaround. There are a lot of people out there that have the dosh but don't have much time to dedicate to the hobby. They want to get up and playing as soon as possible and if they can find someone that can do good work they will pay for it. Dave's idea of a watertight 'terms of service' is a must, I think. That way it reassures both yourself and the customer. I'd look at businesses like these to look for ideas:



    Anyway, those are my thoughts. Hopefully, this will all be academic and your position will be fine. I have all digits and limbs crossed for you!


    1. Hey Curt, no worries, many thanks for your input.
      Whoa "hiring a crew" ! You don't start small do you!?
      Its certainly an angle to this situation I had not considered. It would have to be pretty darn successful, for me to afford to pay wages, and make a profit myself...
      Still, I'll take it all on board, it could be something to work towards.

      I'm still hoping it doesn't come to it... no-one really likes this level of change in their lives... but if needs must... time will tell.

    2. They don't call me Mr Big just because I have the tackle of a Grand National winner - Woof Woof! ;)

      Yeah, with this situation it's about volume.

      If you were to go the 'paint stable' route you would need to make their earnings dependent on their output. That way you are not too much out-of-pocket.

      Curt 'The Sweatshop Grinder'

  17. It was nice reading this blog. Thanks for sharing


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