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Ask the Artist: James Wappel, aka @Wappellious

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

I bring before you all another interview, this time with James Wappel! I had never heard of this artist until he was recommended by David Hills, a fellow hobby enthusiast, in my post requesting more inspirational artists. Since I don't want to be someone that doesn't do my research first, I hopped onto his page and was immediately slammed in the face with some of the cleanest looking models my baby-blues had ever witnessed. The colors are insanely vibrant, the shadows ridiculously deep and the beautiful appearance of reality brought these all together.

I mean, HONESTLY....look at this frighteningly beautiful thing! The color wheel is all over the place, but it's so chaotic it actually helps drive the realism of the model to the max. I immediately knew I had to contact James, and I was beyond shocked that he agreed to answer my questions!

1. How long have you been involved in the hobby in general? 

"I first started painting miniatures in 2001".

2. How long have you been actively promoting your content on social media?

"I started my Blog in 2012, with Facebook before that.  The YouTube channel began in 2013, the Patreon Page in 2016, and the Twitch channel this year".

3. What initially drew you to the miniature model hobby realm? 

"Friends of ours were playing Blood Bowl, and they wanted us to join the league. Soon I was making stadiums and painting teams!"

4. What tabletop game would you say is your favorite? What particular faction within that game is your favorite and why? 

"At this point it would have to be split between Bolt Action (French) and Lord of the Rings (Easterlings).  I like to play the French, as it is a way to show those who don't bother to study history that horrible leadership and a highly fractured population was the source of the demise, not the equipment or the soldiers themselves.  I enjoy the Easterlings because they are the only faction that serves Sauron out of belief, not fear.  They still hate the Neumenorians for what they had done to them in the past". 

5. What is more enjoyable for you personally: painting or playing the game? 

"Painting the miniatures and making terrain is definitely preferred, as rules systems are always wonky, and they have a tendency to go in bad directions, even when they are good".

6. If money or time weren’t a consideration, what single purchase/upgrade/expansion would you make to further your hobby enjoyment?

"I would like to be able to sculpt more, and find some way to have 3D prints made of them".

7. Where do you get the inspiration for your particular army theme or style?

"I usually try to make unique stories for the army, which leads to color schemes which are typically not thought of for that particular faction, etc., such as my Tzeentch tainted Tomb Kings army".

8. What tips or advice would you give someone just starting out in the hobby? 

"Pick figures that you really enjoy to start out with, but also try to paint things which will not be too complex.  Getting frustrated early on will make it less likely that you will want to keep painting!"

9. What was the moment you realized commission painting was something you wanted to pursue as more than a hobby? 

"I had no choice, as the impact of 9/11 destroyed my 2D art business in a matter of months.  We had been painting a few minis on the side at the time, and suddenly that had to take the entire burden.  It was a real baptism by fire".

10. What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome on your path to becoming a full-time painter? 

"The struggles there were much the same as the ones involved with 2D art.  I think trying to stay out in front of all the constant changes are the biggest challenge".

11. What was the most rewarding experience you’ve had as a painter? 

"There have been many in terms of the miniature painting... but the most meaningful is hearing from folks who say that you have inspired them, or that the things you taught them literally changed their life!"

12. If you could do anything to expand your company/studio/hobby footprint, what would it be? 

"I would like to have more equipment for my live streaming, especially for larger scale things like terrain building and live streaming games".

13. What product line do you endorse and what about their products do you feel sets them above their competitors? 

"Green Stuff World makes a host of basing products which make one of my favorite things (basing) so much more fun and interesting!"

14. If you could earn a sponsorship or endorsement from your dream company, who would it be and why?

"I don't do the sponsorship thing, as that sort of locks you into saying nice things about a product.  I prefer to be able to use any products I want, and folks know that if I say good things about a product, it is because I really believe in it, not that I am obligated to say that.  Also, I want to be able to say when a product is not good, even if I comes from a manufacturer that I love".

15. What advice would you give to someone interested in taking the plunge to becoming a commission painter? 

"Make sure that you are willing to go "all in", as that is what will be required.  You will have to be willing to communicate constantly, ship figures, paint figs you don't like in color schemes that you might hate, and you will have to paint when you don't feel like it either.  If you think you can handle those things, then perhaps it might be for you :-)"

James, thank you for being willing to answer my questions! I really appreciate you taking the time to interact with a recent, but lifelong fan!

Readers and fellow hobbyists, check out his YouTube, Instagram, Blog, and Facebook pages!

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