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Wamp - Interview with Ben Jarvis
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  • Interview with Ben Jarvis

    Next in the hotseat we have Ben Jarvis - recently Ben won the coveted Slayer Sword at Golden Demon Uk 2009 with
    'The Clockmaker', he is also one of the founders of Platoon brittanica. Online he goes by the name Rocketandroll.

    What was your inspiration for the Clockmaker?
    I actually get a lot of my inspiration from generic fantasy and sci-fi artwork books, from films, computer games and all over the place.
    The Clockmaker did I guess partly come from the great artwork that GW have done for the Empire range, but also just from numerous fantasy and historical sources.
    It was really just this idea that popped into my head and I ran with it and refined it and added to it until it was a true character with a life of it's own. I think the key to it winning was the number of little touches on the model that all just tied in to one coherent story about who this character was, and what made him tick (if you'll excuse the pun).

    When you were working on the Clockmaker, did you ever think it would win the Slayer Sword or did you not let you get ahead of yourself and just concentrate on finishing it?
    I STILL don't think the Clockmaker would win the Slayer Sword :-) I never really did. I got back into the hobby four years ago with the aim of maybe winning a demon, even that seemed a lofty and barely attainable goal. I only ever paint models for competitions, so I guess you could say I paint every model to win prizes, but you can never 'assume' that you will.
    Having seen the quality of painting in some of the models that won demons the last few years I was 100% sure I would not be able to reach the level of those painters so a sword was never really on my radar as something to even aim for.
    When I won the gold and silver demons in GDUK in 2008 I felt I had climbed as high as I ever would. I feel my skills are in coming up with unique ideas and coherent designs for models rather than painting.
    This year I had done NO painting at all since the month after the last demons, so my only goal with the Clockmaker was to just get a single model finished and entered that had a shot at taking another demon.
    In the last couple of weeks before GD a few people in the community, watching the WIP come together, commented that they thought it had sword winning potential, but I really didn't take that seriously, you can't let things like that get in the way of just
    finishing the model once you're that close.... I just did the best I could in the time available.

    Describe the process that you came about with the model, and how you picked this one for GD
    These ideas kind of fester in the back of my mind for anything from a few weeks to a few years before they finally make their way into model form.
    I had seen some pics in GW artwork of Empire master engineers a few years back, and loved some of the models and the whole idea of these overly-complicated clokwork weapons and mechanisms and the whole visual style of it all.
    From the outset I had this idea that an Empire engineer using a lot of custom brass-etch components would be a really nice model. Originally I had toyed with completely scratch building a mechanical steed out of brass etch... but the work involved was just horrific so I put that on the backburner. Immediately after GD 2008 I started looking back through my ideas
    to start a new project for 2009. I immediately decided I wanted to do a single figure that was a lot more scratch built than anything I had done before. I also decided, having won two demons in 40K categories, I wanted to definitely put some serious work into a Warhammer entry for 2009.
    I had already done some brass-etch cogs and this idea of 'The Clockmaker' just kind of popped into my head one day... The idea was simple, to make this old looking engineer, who looked like he used to be a wealthy noble, but had let it all go to pot because of his obsession with his mechanisms. I just slowly drew in ideas of little things that I wanted to include... from his tool-belt with the brass-etch tools in it to the clockwork gun, to his untied shoelace.

    Did you enter anything else, or did you stick to that on entry?
    Painting miniatures is one of several time consuming hobbies I have, and I hadn't even intended to enter GD 2009 until I was talked into it around a month and a half before the competition. Right up until a few weeks before the event I had two models on the go, I thought there was a chance I might get both a 40K single and a WH single entry done in the time... but in the end, I had to make a decision between the two... and I went for the Clockmaker simply because I had more invested in the model and it was more coherent than my 40K entry. Normally I enter at least three categories, this year was the first
    time I've only entered one, though strangely there seems to be a history of UK swords going to people who have only entered the one model, maybe it's something about putting all your passion into one single thing that shines through?

    Other than the sword, what was the high point of the experience?
    Winning the sword was all a bit of a blur.... it's one of those things you kind of imagine all the time, what it'd be like... but you never really think it'll happen, so when it does, it's all a bit dream-like, everything goes wobbly round the edges and nothing really seems real until a few days and several strong coffies later :-) The high point for me... was not holding that sword aloft and screaming like a freak.... it was seeing my closest friends, who had shared the whole journey of the last four+ years, trying to get to that point looking up and cheering for me when I walked up on stage, that was what really made it for me. These experiences are totally hollow without friends to share it with.

    What now?
    a stiff drink? :-)
    I kind of feel that I've proven myself now, I have achieved everything I ever dreamed I could in this hobby, and more. I feel that now the pressure is off, I can concentrate on doing stuff that I really want to do just because it'd be cool, without even caring whether it's what the judges want to see or not. I seem to have spent far too long the last few years over-analysing
    what wins and what doesn't, I think the Clockmaker winning just shows that what it really comes down to is just doing something you love and are utterly passionate about. A good idea, well executed will win over the most impecable painted-by-the-numbers model every time. So from now on... it's all about the ideas! :-)
    I also saw in a few people this year, the same emotions I had when I entered GD the first time a few years ago... so I genuinely want to give something back and do what I can (which may be not a lot) to help some of the other up-and-coming painters in the UK win demons next year.

    Which do you find turn out better, things you love working on or the buggers that give you no end of trouble?
    I find that I abandon anything that doesn't go too well :-) I have numerous models half finished on my shelves that got to a certain point and I just felt that there was some fatal flaw with them that meant they would never be quite right.
    There are problems with any model... I had to replace the sword on the Clockmaker's back a week before GD after I trashed the original because the metalic paint didn't go on right... you always have at least one 'Oh my god, that didn't just happen' moment with a model. If you believe in the overall aesthetic and idea of the model enough you'll work through it and make it right. One of the key skills I've learnt the last couple of years is taking the time to get the modelling right before I rush into painting it. Too many times I've though 'Oh, that'll do' and started painting while there were still bits that niggled me about the model, and have always regretted it... on the Clockmaker I made sure he was 100% clean and correct from a modelling standpoint before I painted him.

    How long from concept to finished product did your winning entry take you?
    In total 11 months if you count the day I started working on the idea after GD 2008 until the day he was finished 24hrs before GD 2009. But actually I did about 2 weeks modelling work on him, sculpting his torso and assembling him into the pose I wanted, and added some clothing, around November 2008. I then didn't do anything at all on him, apart from the odd bit of computer design work on the brass-etch pieces, until August 2009. I then paniced through and finished the brass etch, did final assembly on the model the very end of Aug/early Sept and spent about three weeks on and off painting him. If you include the computer time designing the brass-etch components then I'd say he took a total of around 70 to 80 hours work start to

    Was it done a little at a time in between other projects or in marathon paint sessions?
    I tend to be an 'all-or-nothing' person, I work well with a deadline and a clear goal, such as a single model to finish, I am rubbish at maintaining motivation for long periods of time :-) He was really completed in two 'spurts' of motivation, the fist was
    a couple of weeks of modelling in November 2008 and then the second was the mad panic to finish and paint him in Aug/Sept 2009. I'm not one of these 'up until 4am' painters though... I am good at time-management over short projects so I planned out what stages I needed to reach by when and worked through steadily in those last few weeks and was never up painting beyond 10:00pm... I value my sleep too much :-)

    Do you plan your projects out ahead of time or just start and see where they will end up?
    Most of them I have a pretty clear vision of what I want to achieve, how the finished model will look, at the otset and work to achieve that. I always find that if I just start playing with things and 'see what happens' the result is never as coherent or as innovative as if I have a clear idea before I start.

    Is there one project or idea that you've been meaning to do but never get around to?
    There is a list... and it is long :-)
    I do have one particular idea, involving a scratch built knight titan, which I've been sketching for over 3 years now... it's just SO MUCH work but if I pulled it off it'd be a trully iconic piece.... there's a reason I seem to mostly enter single miniature categories... see my previous comment about having a short attention span and an utter inability to maintain long periods of motivation :-)

    How do you plan your models? Start with sketching ideas on paper? Do test pieces for colours etc?
    I come from a design background so I'm used to following a 'design process' with each model... this usually starts with a vision, an idea of what I want to achieve in my head, then I move on to sometimes do a few sketches, sometimes I move straight on to playing with doing some sculpting and tacking bits of model together to try and see if I can achieve what I want in 3D.
    The thing I use paper sketches for the most I think is actually planning out freehands and how they will fit on a flat surface.

    What advice would you give to people entering painting contests - not just golden demon but any event like this?
    Look for inspiration everywhere, not just in the artwork for the models you are painting.... originality is always rewarded. Believe in yourself, yes there will always be better painters and modellers out there, but keep improving, and keep trying, and you will get where you want to be. Above all else however... and this took me a while to learn... don't enter the model that you think the judges want to see... enter the model that YOU want to paint. Clever painting techniques and flashy bases come and go, but passion ALWAYS shines through.

    Platoon Brittanica had a great sucess at GD - do you think it can be more sucessful next year?

    I think PB is going to do very well next year :-) In one year we reclaimed the UK demons, in two years we'll be ready to expand globally! You really can't underestimate the value of having tallented and experienced people to look at your work and give you honest feedback and ideas to help you improve. PB is trully unique in the international painting community as a place where people are genuinely just there to help and be helped, and that is going to bear fruit for a long while yet.

    Do you feel getting critique from your peers helps achieve a higher standard?

    Absolutely. At any level of this hobby, you find yourself 'accepting' a certain level of quality in your own work... if you've put a lot of work into something, you want it to be right.... but having honest and experienced people there to say "Yeah, that's good... but you could still do better" is invaluable, it makes you push yourself harder, and after all is said and done, it's down to you to improve your painting and get to where you want to be. No one can tell you how to win, they can just make you push yourself until you do.

    Has winning a slayer sword sunk in yet?

    Not quite :-)
    It's sitting in the corner of the living room at the moment (only because my wife and I are still arguing about which room I'm allowed to mount it in), I keep looking at it and having to tell myself 'That's a slayer sword... and I actually won it'.... I don't think it'll ever sink in.



    So many thanks to Ben for answering these questions - hope you find it useful to read

    More of Bens work can be found here
    platton Britannica can be found here

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Spectral Dragon's Avatar
      Spectral Dragon -
      That was fun....and utterly informative! Thanks for this DL and thank you Ben for graciously being interviewed.
    1. Ulfgrimr's Avatar
      Ulfgrimr -
      Great interview, very inspirational. Many thanks DL and Ben for your time and thoughts.
    1. mcsneed17's Avatar
      mcsneed17 -
      Can you reccommend anyone that can help someone with a lot of ideas but no undestanding to bring to life please me help.