“To be great, be whole; exclude
Nothing, exaggerate nothing that is you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
The whole moon gleams in every pool.
It rides so high.”
– Fernando Pessoa, To be great, be whole (from Poems of Fernando Pessoa, translated and edited by Edwin Honig and Susan M. Brown)
“If the bar ain’t bending, then you’re just pretending”
To be gifted or cursed can be a matter of perspective. Growing up it was clear that I excelled in many matters I enjoyed, and absolutely tanked things I did not like. My vivid imagination, energy, and boldness would get me rewards or troubles depending which teacher you’d ask. Thankfully it has paid off to pick something I liked and work very hard on it.
Most relevant to this story of plastic miniatures and grim darkness were these key junctures. First at five when my godfather showed me part of the first Star Wars movie. Galaxies far far away, space ships, laser and good versus bad. Wow. Nothing was the same anymore. Then at 10, when Santa brought the Space Crusade and through a series of fortunate events I stumbled on a Fantasy Games store that carried Citadel products and perhaps most importantly, the White Dwarf. This was in the metal infested magic of the second edition Warhammer 40000. Suddenly it was grim, dark, and utterly captivating, relevant bits of star wars coupled with almost Finnish feeling folklore and Northern European feeling art work. The final delivery of the addiction became a decade later with the release of the Inquisitor rule book. Finally everything was grey, and you could through the rules out of the window.
Initially White Dwarf was stuff of legends, miniatures so pretty and well painted it seemed impossible. Each new miniature release was celebration, and if I could have afforded, I could have finished all of them. As sports and pretty girls begun beating plastic men repeatedly, the fire was kindled only through still picking up the White Dwarf and then living in England with the family for a year. Things changed with the 3rd edition of Warhammer 40000 and the proper plastic kits. My capabilities slowly grew together with those of Games Workshop and Citadel miniatures and I was finding my life’s calling and profession in design.
The Artwork in the books, from the beginning was the single most impactful driver to how I approached my miniatures. To me there was always a clear distinction between artists driving completely new and illustrators beautifully and novelly rendering the established themes. But both classes of work, still somehow completely eclipsed the miniatures. John Blanche stood out as the mastermind, a power for originality. The creator of Archoflagellants. Years later it has been a privilege to get to know this humble genius who’s creativity beats stronger and stronger each year.
In 2000 I stumbled upon an ugly ass internet page called the DakkaDakka. This proved out to be a force multiplier in what I could learn and share. 15 years later, Dakka still has special significance. I could have not imagined the number of incredible people I get to meet through the hobby – a hobby supposedly for hermits.
With every new project I challenged myself to learn and try new things and to do something no-one else had hopefully really done before. I was learning from the best, a fellow Finn “Colonel Hammer” who absolutely never learnt a rule, but created armies previously at most whispered in some arcane Codex corner. Internet had changed the reach of our work, but also revolutionized how much one could learn from distant others. My abilities to produce what I could imagine and what I would be happier with slowly got closer. Very slowly. Everything I learned in Design school I also applied to my miniatures. I created quite a few armies, enjoyed and attended tournaments and made great friends. To finance some of the studies and new projects, I had to sell most of those armies, but that made me happy and killed the hunger.
Along the way a rewarding, changing relationship with Games Workshop’s people developed. Back in the days when it wasn’t run like a big corporation, and one could visit the studio and see the future, and today that it has hopefully grown into a proper, healthy, sustainable creative environment – locked from visitors. I could not be happier about trading the perks for the amazing company that it is today. 🙂
I also no longer have to sell miniatures, but also have no free time. Today the hobby is an intensely disciplined series of half an hours here and there. An immersive, mediative quest to create groups and armies that redefine their subject matter. I’m dreaming of getting back to gaming and thoroughly enjoying the entire breadth of the Games Workshop hobby.
So here we are. 2015, new blog with two incredible artists from Finland that I have admired for a long time. We share a common aesthetic undercurrent, some natural wavelength to grim and dark. And what is the mission?
“A series of artistic endeavors and musings, and a celebration of converting and painting English science-fiction miniatures. This is a space for storytelling and wild imagination in truly Gothic fashion.
Think of your favorite Dainton, Kopinski, or Boyd painting. Is your favorite art photorealistic technical exercise or a vivid statement of emotion, color, texture and artistic decision? With key focus points and detail, on a loose backdrop.
I grew up marveling John Blanche’s work and the worlds and characters he birthed. My goal is to render Games Workshop art in miniature form. Raw like weather, laden with emotion, action and sense of scale.
Games Workshop has largely gone from strength to strength the past few years, yet I feel some of the core products deserve to be critically challenged. The basic Space Marine kit for example is a badly scaled, toyish and failing to capitalize the wonderful background and imagery.
My plan is to produce alternative designs and have heaps of fun.”
And what would be the best imagery to accompany all this rambling?
My desk. Slowly, carefully and quite affordably put together in many years of tasteful choices in different antique, second hand and art stores, to create an environment that enhances my painting experience, hides the illegal amount of paints & inks, and displays my miniatures.
Welcome to Iron Sleet,