Thomas Yates got started commission painting Warhammer and other hobby pieces on a part time basis about four years ago when players recognized his own figures as having detail and completion that they desired as well.
He says, “I can think of three people that are successful, long-term commission painters that it’s their full time occupation in North America. Not to say that I know every one of them, but I can think of two particular studios that have been able to do this.”
Yates expressed that it is these few people whom can both charge large amounts of money while also turning projects over quickly.
He says, “For me it’s mainly been a good way to get money that I would feel no shame about putting straight back into the hobby.”
For Yates, these projects aren’t done just for financial gain.
“I like painting and it’s fun to paint things that I wouldn’t normally. It gives you a chance to try out new stuff.”
The commissions Yates has worked on have been incredibly versatile.
Yates has of course completed whole armies of his own, all done in the same colours, with the same processes etc. so it is a welcome change when he is able to paint for others.
Often customers will ask for full armies of miniatures to be painted at once, but others will call for smaller scale works or single models that may be larger or more complex.
Yates shared that his favourite commissions are those were artistic freedom are provided by his customers.
“Some people are very specific. I have turned people away that are a little too restrictive.”
Yates also relates that often people are surprised at price quotes or do not have a great deal of value they place on the service.
“I imagine that this is similar in really any creative endeavour or any sort of art stuff that people don’t want to pay you for. They think it’s worth a lot less. You know, that happens a lot.”
Another issue commission painters face is batch painting, which involves painting a hundred or so figures, sometimes more, that require mass repetition.
When it comes to patience with this Yates says, “You’ve got a hundred idiots who look identical and they all need the same thing done to them at the same standard over and over and over. You get burned out a little bit.”
He says he generally deals with these large-scale projects with a combination of loud music, coffee, and alcohol.
All in all, the commissions Yates takes on are projects he genuinely enjoys doing.