It’s a good question! And to be truthful, there’s no one universal answer… We all have our own reasons for actively pursuing it as a pastime and given that there are so many aspects to this hobby (miniature painting, sculpting, gaming and collecting) it’s no surprise that there should be so many different answers. For me, if I had to distil it down to one reason alone, it would be that it fills an artistic NEED I have simply to create. It doesn’t matter whether I’m sculpting miniatures, painting miniatures, collecting them (even though I own far more than I’ll probably have time to paint – like most of us!) or even the social aspect of gaming with miniatures. I can still fill a creative void by pursuing any of these aspects to the hobby. I can do this in isolation or socially and it can be part of a much wider network of others either in person or online. There is a great freedom in how we all involve ourselves in the hobby. A great part about all this, is that at the end of the day, I have something to show for my investment in time and effort (and money!). I have created something – and it’s mine, or at least my interpretation. I find it fascinating seeing how you see so many interpretations of the same figure done by different people. Even seeing the same figure done differently many times by the same person! It really brings home the fact that everyone brings their own style, value and artistic merit to the hobby and that whilst we're all different, we share the interest in the hobby as a whole. I've recently begun conducting group painting tutorials and sharing my own knowledge and experiences with people who are keen and eager to learn more about improving their skills and knowledge and it is no small wonder that even though I was teaching the same thing to everyone, that at the end of each tutorial, everyone's painted model was different and unique. I also tried to reinforce with participants that while I was teaching them what works for me, that what i was showing them is only ONE way of doing it and that they should experiment, learn from others also and then find their own style and way of doing it. It was interesting for me to see some people who were already reasonably adept at painting, actually finding themselves challenged by trying to adapt to the methods I was showing them, proving that it's not always easy learning new things and that sometimes stretching out of your comfort zone can be rewarding and challenging. These tutorials have had a wide mix of people of all different ages, backgrounds and abilities, but they all shared the same desire to become more deeply involved in the hobby by investing time and effort so they could achieve growth in their abilities. As part of these tutorials, I've been showing the participants examples of my earliest work in both painting and sculpting miniatures - followed up by more recent work. Now there's no doubt that 30+ years of experience shows a world of difference, but the point was that I started at the bottom with no knowledge or ability (and my first attempts clearly showed that!) but that over time, with the willingness and desire to improve, you can make vast leaps and surprise yourself with what you can achieve. I have gained in experience and confidence with sculpting over the last 5 years and try to continue to improve with each new figure - and although I've made large leaps, I also know I still have so much to learn and so many avenues to improve on with my work. I am constantly amazed by seeing others work, whether it be a sculpt or a painted model, and they provide huge inspiration to me knowing that there is always a level to strive for. But it is always rewarding to me to know, and see, that my efforts create something tangible. There is a very talented fellow I know (who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this story) who reached, what I would consider, the pinnacle of miniature painting ability and whose work was literally world-class. Over time, he began to develop his modest sculpting skills and eventually became known more for his sculpting than for his painting. I recall reading an article where he was interviewed which I found fascinating because I often wondered why he basically abandoned painting in favour of sculpting - after all, why would you basically quit doing something you were supremely good at? He was asked something along those lines and his answer stuck with me, "I loved painting, but sculpting allowed me to truly create, making something from nothing and the satisfaction that brings for me, is more rewarding than bringing someone else's creation to life through painting...". I still think about that to this day and I still debate whether I agree with it entirely because I think it questions the assumption that (from an artistic level) you truly own the finished product from a creative perspective. I think, philosophically, if you went down that path, you could then argue that any painting hanging in any gallery is not entirely the creative work of the artist either - unless they made the materials the artwork was painted on and painted with! Of course, this is effectively beginning to argue semantics... To me, miniature painting is an artform - as is miniature sculpting - and whilst it is PART of a hobby, it still requires the ability to create as an artistic endeavour. The ability to create using colour, light, mood, focal point, set a scene or guide the viewers eye - all combine to create miniature artwork in 3D. THIS is what's so good about this hobby - at least to me.
What about you guys..?