The next person to sit in the hotseat sits atop one of the most well known Miniature painting sites in the world; Chern Ann the King of Coolmini.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was an avid miniature collector when I was in school and still love the little metal men. Iím also a serial entrepreneur, one of my projects which Iím quite proud of is Razer! where we make various gaming peripherals. Iím currently working on lots of cool stuff on CoolMiniOrNot full time. Iím a lawyer by training but never really developed a taste for other peopleís problems.
How did cmon begin?
Dave (the other guy behind CMON) saw an early incarnation of HotOrNot.com and thought itíd be cool to have something like that for miniatures. This was sometime in mid-2001. So he bought an off the shelf script, dumped it on the net ďas isĒ and sure enough it was getting a lot of attention. Some of it was negative though, in the early days of HotOrNot it wasnít really a dating site and was just there to kind of ogle and giggle at peopleís pics, so naturally the clone was the same. I looked at the site and then thought itíd be cool to add stuff like proper attribution, user accounts, PMs and the like and put up an alternative site. Dave got wind of it and asked me if Iíd like to join forces on CoolMiniOrNot.com. I said, sure, why not, transferred everything over and started running CoolMiniOrNot.com from October 2001.
Did you ever guess at its popularity being so big?
Well, we had some indication in the early days that there was a hunger for some kind of organized gallery of painted figures, but really I personally had no idea. I basically stuck my head in every few months, made performance tweaks and improvements as well as implementing requested features and if just kinda went from there.
Do you paint or game yourself?
I donít really have time to paint anymore. I used to play a lot of WFB, but my work life involved a lot of computer game playing which occupied a lot of time (not that I complained really).
Do you sometimes feel you created a monster?
Not really; there are lots of sites out there related to the hobby. CMON isnít as big as say, deviantart.com which started around the same time, mainly because it serves a more focused niche
What do you feel are the biggest positives of Cmon?
Itís got a big international audience, with very very active participation from some of the best painters in the field. For those that thrive on competition, CMON is one of the best places to learn. Itís easy to find out how well youíre doing (say Iím painting at a ď6Ē level) and observe what everyone is doing to get ď7Ēs. There are several very good painters on that I believe have galleries of their first few paintjobs all the way to their current 8+ scoring figures, which I have to say is just awesome. Weíve also been the launching pad for some popular independent lines of miniatures, and that Iím also particularly proud of.
That said, if you donít like a competitive environment, the harshness of a hard, numeric score turns some people off. Sometimes, all you want is the rest of the world to share the joy you have when youíve created something cool, not critique it and tell you whatís wrong with it. That makes the CMON artists and contributors, including and perhaps especially the beginners such a rare breed whose work they are prepared to let the rest of us enjoy (I admit, I even enjoy the bad paintjobs).
The rating system i s sometimes criticized - how would you defend it?
I wouldnít. It is what it is. I may not agree with some of the scores, but thatís the whole point. Everyone understands a 1 to 10 scale, it universally cuts across almost all language and cultural barriers and thatís why it works.
As the market leader cmon obviously meets a demand, how do you avoid it getting stale whilst keeping it recognizable?
Well since most of the content is user generated, it should never get stale, there will always be something new to learn. My job I think would be to make the information easily accessible and keep up with new developments on the interface design front that make it easy for the community to connect with each other. We have lots of physical world projects like the annual and Game Forces magazine, as well as manufacturing of miniatures themselves, which also adds a significant dimension to the site that doesnít really exist on pure portals.
Do you have favourite artists?
Not really, although I tend to gravitate towards humorous and/or darker themed pieces.
Cmon now has its own minis - what are the plans for this range long term?
Weíve got major news on this front coming up soon.
You have the first cmon convention coming up - can you tell us more about that?
Nothing concrete planned yet, itís still early days.
What does the future hold for cmon?
No ideaÖ should be an interesting rest of the year though.
Who would win - The terminator or Predator?
Terminator of course. No sense of fair play?Ouch. Predators are too nice!
Many thanks to Chern for taking the time to answer our questions. If you havent checked out coolmini yet then make sure you do www.coolminiornot.com
Interview with Chern Ann Ng