After speaking with @dornsarrow last week, I asked him if there was anyone in particular he would like to have interviewed. He immediately responded with "Matt Kane, @broken_arrow_2000". Being relatively new to the hobby, especially to anyone outside of the Space Wolves side of the house, I had never heard of this person, nor had I seen their work. I said I would take a look at his page and see if he'd be interested, so I went to Matt's Instagram and began to snoop around.
Let me take a brief moment to explain why I absolutely love both this hobby and this little blog interview series. It all began with asking one person a few questions, which led to someone else and a few more questions. Now, I find myself having conversations, not just quick "yes and no" interactions....but legitimate conversations with people I never dreamed to be as approachable and helpful as they have been. Another thing, the majority of the people I reach out to simply based upon what I see of their work. I have found myself in the middle of reading a response being pleasantly surprised I've just interviewed a former GW employee, Golden Demon Winner, or other such recipients of renown! Understand something, first and foremost, I am a hobby enthusiast. Also, since I'm fairly fresh I still get all star-struck when I'm chatting with astounding artists, prestigious painters, marvelous modelers, and other such alliteratively-alluring individuals. Anyway...back to the artist!
Before I realized his past employment with GW and Forgeworld as painter, before I realized his, not one, but two Golden Demon victories (Silver in 2016, Gold in 2017 both in the squad category) I saw a person that gave his Custodes as much, if not more care and affection than the God-Emperor of Mankind himself. He has painted much more than Custodes mind you, but his true passion is for the Guys in Gold. To be truthful, I had previously thought Custodes were kind of a lazy-man's army to paint. Just spray with Retributor Armour, put pink on the face, red on the plume and cape. BAM! Instant, Ready-Bake, Overpowered Army. I held that opinion until I saw the minute details and exquisite intricacies of Matt's beloved Custodes. His faces alone are enough to capture the emotion and true depth of feeling in his models. The positioning of his models also allude to and accentuate the fluid, deadly grace of the Talons of the Emperor. His models exude a sense of barely-contained lethality that draws the viewers in and holds them at his mercy.
I've dribbled and drooled enough.....let's get to the questions!
1. How long have you been involved in the hobby in general?
2. How long have you been actively promoting your content on social media?
"5 years of Facebook, maybe 1 or 2 on Instagram. But it’s not so much promoting, just posting pictures of what I enjoy doing".
3. What initially drew you to the miniature model hobby realm?
"Going past a games workshop store with my friend. Seeing bright pictures of fantasy things in armour with weapons and loads of people being so enthused and having so much fun. As a 13 year old, I was like a fly to a neon light".
4. What tabletop game would you say is your favorite? What particular faction within that game is your favorite and why?
"Horus heresy. And talons of the emperor within that. When I was in my young teens, visions of heresy (the art collection) showed such amazing pictures of the custodian guard. I wanted them from that day on. 20 odd years later they finally released them. Dream come true. Gold, billowing cloaks, halberds and eagles. What more could I possibly want?!".
5. What is more enjoyable for you personally: painting or playing the game?
"Playing. Although I made success of painting, it’s the creating of your own epic novel of war with your opponent over a table top That really excites me about the hobby".
6. If money or time weren’t a consideration, what single purchase/upgrade/expansion would you make to further your hobby enjoyment?
"Amazing battlefields. It’s a continuous thing rather than a one off. But the gaming table is the part that sets the scene and turns a game into a story".
7. Where do you get the inspiration for your particular army theme or style?
"Visions of heresy. All of my models are converted to look like the artwork from those books.
But in terms of people who have influenced me, they are vast in number. Because it’s not necessarily peoples skills that make me want to do something, more their passion and excitement. People look at the artists that sit in columns of greatness within the hobby. But for me, it’s not those people that give the hobby the energy that it has. The community is what drives it. Excitement builds excitement. Peoples passion enthuses others. Creating an amazing atmosphere that is utterly intoxicating".
8. What tips or advice would you give someone just starting out in the hobby?
"Do what you enjoy without the pressure of trying to be better than the next person. Enjoy it with your friends, not against them. Look to people to learn from. Seek their feedback and try to put that feedback into place. Only by practicing, making mistakes and then learning why you have made those mistakes and what to do about them in order to correct them and push forward will you get better. There is not a single person in history or the future that will ever be perfect. Everyone can improve. Everyone can learn. Never close your book, always leave it open to add more to it".
9. What was the moment you realized painting was something you wanted to pursue as more than a hobby?
"When I felt my current career was becoming stale and I wanted to push myself in another direction in order to build on my skill sets, learn new things and be surrounded by those who thought the same".
10. What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome on your path to becoming a well known and influential painter?
"My ability to be able to take constructive criticism. I used to feel like people were just negative. Like I just couldn’t do good enough. But then I learnt how to turn that into something to learn from. The biggest point was that I learnt that anyone who thinks they are too good to learn something new is the biggest loser. Because even if it’s just learning something in a different way. You are still getting an entirely different perspective on it".
11. What was the most rewarding experience you’ve had in the hobby?
"The first time that one of my students won a golden demon. It was like a proud father moment. Everyone at work looked at me strangely when I shouted out loud how happy I was for them when I heard it on the phone".
12. If you could do anything to expand your company/studio/hobby footprint, what would it be?
"I wouldn’t. I’m not in it to be the biggest or best. Just someone who can enjoy what I’m doing while helping others to enjoy it too. It is a hobby. So enjoy it".
13. What product line do you endorse and what about their products do you feel sets them above their competitors?
"If anything I’d say Windsor and newton. Their series 7 brushes, for me are just a cut above everything else".
14. If you could earn a sponsorship or endorsement from your dream company, who would it be and why?
"I’m not really after anything like that. I don’t need sponsorship to enjoy the hobby that I do for fun".
15. What advice would you give to someone before they accept their first commission?
"Remember that it is work, not personal. Make the difference between the two and it will help you to set boundaries. Being professional and not being emotional about it. Value your time and your skills. If someone isn’t willing to pay for an hourly rate like any other employment pays you for, then are they the sort of customer you want? Do they actually value your skills and your service? Remember, they came to you, you didn’t go to them. Don’t lower your prices just to get work. It devalues you and your name. As a commission painter, you have to remember that time is money. And top results requires a fair amount of time. If you drop your prices, then the customer is paying less than what you/your family need to survive on. It’s a business. So, be a businessman/woman"
Matt, I thank you both for your service to your country, as well your contribution to the hobby. As a veteran, I understand, respect, and appreciate the hardships and rigors that you and your family have to endure. As a novice to this hobby realm, I have been inspired and motivated to push myself to improve. Thank you for your time, and I hope to have more reasons to pick your brain and chat with you in the future!