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Ask the Artist: Jeremy Pillipow aka Black Magic Craft

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

We have another member of YouTube hobby royalty on the docket today folks! BMC was one of those creators I reached out to full of hopes and dreams, but pretty realistically confident I wasn't worth the time. Not that he has given any indication of being someone that thinks like that, mind you. Simply because the life of a Content Creator is so hectic and involved, little emails or messages have a tendency to fade into the shadows. However, when I saw not only the little word at the bottom of my post change from delivered to seen, but from seen to typing... my hobby heart skipped a beat!

I first saw Jeremy about a year ago, when I was looking for inspiration on how to build a little house out of foam for my kiddos and I to play a VERY HEAVILY MODIFIED version of Warhammer. I stumbled upon his video and was shocked! Here, I was presented with the opportunity to have a very nice looking tabletop prop, and I would actually be able to do it! Since then, I have been an avid and excited viewer of his content. I love his approach to building, in that it is very similar to mine. We start off all methodical and precise, with rulers, levels, gadgets and gizmos galore. But throughout the project, we become more focused on the overall aesthetic and feel of the project, so we call some audibles. In the end, we realize it's the imperfections, the impurities take a "pretty cool tavern" and transform it into the PERFECT stage to tell your story. If you haven't subscribed to him on YouTube, do yourself a favor and correct this terrible misdeed.

But, when you're done..... please come back. lol

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

"Not that long compared to some. I think at this point I've been into the hobby (this includes modeling, building terrain, painting, AND playing tabletop games) for just under 6 years".  2. How long have you been actively promoting your content on social media?

"I actually started my channel very shortly after starting the hobby, I think within the first few months. My development as a hobbyist and my development as a content creator sort of went hand in had. You can actually see my progression as a builder very clearly because of this if you go back and watch my videos in order. My channel's first videos show someone new to the hobby with limited skills, and if you watch the videos in order you will see me slowly progressing my skills and style. So to answer your question I've been promoting my content for about 6 years as well. It started with just a facebook page to post photos which I would share in a few related groups, the YouTube channel followed shortly after. As for Instagram, I only recently started it and it has never been a huge part of my business model". 3. What initially drew you to the miniature model hobby realm?

"I have always been interested in general modeling since I was younger (but more drawn to larger scale monster and character models) but I never thought I could actually do something like that. When I was a teenager I collected vintage monster models but tended to buy them painted as I was scared to do them myself. When I was maybe 14 or 15 I did actually paint a few Polar Lights replica models of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc but they were done in a pretty rudimentary way. After that I didn't do anything like it for at least another 15 years. Aside from Magic the Gathering I also really didn't do any gaming, and certainly no Tabletop RPG's or Wargaming. But a friend asked to try D&D and I gave it a go. I was totally hooked and wanted to run my own game. As soon as I started looking into the game more I knew I wanted to use visual props for it and decided to jump head first into building. The hobby of making stuff for games, as well as making a YouTube channel, was really appealing for me at the time. Shortly before my wife and I had our daughter, and my side passion at the time was electronic music production. Making loud music and traveling to gigs was no longer conducive to life with a new baby. But making miniatures and recording video was something more quiet that I could easily pick up and put down as needed with a new baby".

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

"The obvious choice would be D&D, but I'm not sure. Over the years I've grown to really love certain aspects of that game and sort of grow tired of others. I love the stories, I love the collaborative nature, I love the rules-loose non competitiveness of it, and of course I love making cool things for it. But I have found that over the past two years I've gotten very burned out on running games. It's a lot of work being the DM and preparing so much. You don't get that casual meet up with friends and relax and play a game vibe when you are running. You are in a sense working, and there is a pressure to make sure everyone else gets that enjoyment. That's what has made me more drawn to skirmish games lately, but those seem to often come with a competitive side and stricter rules that I think diminish my personal enjoyment a bit. Frostgrave was a pretty good game for striking that balance. I personally really enjoyed it but the guys I was playing with sort of lost interest unfortunately. Right now I'm really interested in playing Gaslands and I tried it out at a convention last year and it was such a blast! I'm hoping to get set up for it soon and once it's safer to game with people in person again I hope to get some of my friends into that".  5. What is more enjoyable for you personally: terrain building, painting, or playing the game?

"It's certainly not painting! I find that part to be the least enjoyable. That being said, I've recently started to enjoy it a lot more  now that I'm learning to use the airbrush to do things I just don't have the patience for with a brush. I really enjoy gaming, but the reality is that most of my enjoyment comes from building. I think my favourite part of the process is all the little detail effects after building and painting. Stuff like adding blood or drool or bits of moss....If I had to give up gaming or making I would easily give up gaming and I think I'd be perfectly happy just making dioramas". 6. If money or time weren’t a consideration, what single purchase/upgrade/expansion would you make to further your hobby enjoyment?

"I'd really like to have a good quality CNC laser cutter that I could use to make my own MDF kits, templates, tools, bits, etc. This machine has a lot of limiting factors. Cost, a place to put it and run it safely, the learning curve of using it. But the biggest thing stopping this from happening is that in order to utilize it in the way I want I'd need to learn to actually design stuff for it. That's something I have no clue about and simply don't have the time to dive into. If I were to invest that sort of time to learn the design skills I'd actually instead just invest that time and effort into learning to model in 3D for printing, which is a tool I already have and use".  7. Where do you get the inspiration for your particular theme or style?

"I would say my early builds were heavily inspired by Hankerin from Runehammer (Drunkens n Dragons at the time). He really influenced both my aesthetic and how I approached building and using terrain. While my style has changed and developed a lot I think that influence has always stayed as the foundation. I take a lot of technical influence from my friends and fellow creators but this is more small tricks or ideas than overall style. Lately I have been more interested in practical effects from films of the 70s and 80s. I think once I start making stuff that looks like it could actually have been used in The Dark Crystal or Blade Runner...I'll be happy". 8. What tips or advice would you give someone just starting out in the hobby?

"Don't be afraid. Avoid decision paralysis. Just start building. Don't get discouraged that the piece looks like crap most of the way through. They all do. You need to start something and you need to finish it. No matter your skill level, it will be encouraging to see the final result. And the more you do it the better you will get. If you don't believe me go look at one of my recent builds and compare it to one of my early builds. They are miles apart. You don't need to start by making stuff that looks like what I (or others) make today. Go look at what I was making at the beginning. It wasn't amazing, and that's OK. Obviously I stuck with it and got better. You will too". 

9. What was the moment you realized terrain building and customizing was something you wanted to pursue as more than a hobby?

"As soon as I realized the channel was starting to grow and that I was building a following and developing a strong community I knew this whole venture (both terrain making and video making) was something I needed to start taking seriously and put real effort into making a career of. It took nearly a year of incredibly hard work to get it to that point, and it almost broke me trying to do it while maintaining a day job and family and all that, but I knew it's what I wanted and I refused to stop until I got it. It was so important to me because my whole life I knew I had to find a way to do something creative as a full time job. Something I was in control of, where I could really just create and reach people. I never achieved this level of success with music, so when this hobby channel thing started taking off I knew I finally found that magic thing I was searching for".  10. What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome on your path to becoming a Content Creator?

"It was really the obstacle of hours in the day. At first the channel and hobby was a fun thing I did casually. I could do it at a pace that was dictated by the rest of my life. But when I decided to do it seriously, and really commit, that changed. I decided I would do one video a week, every week, no matter what. I was working a super stressful job at the time that often came home with me (Construction Management for a large firm), I had a toddler, and I had a wife who was very ill. This was the year her Chron's disease kicked in and she was so damn sick for a year while they tried to diagnose it and get her on effective treatment. So finding time to build, film, edit, end everything else that goes into being a content creator was very hard. For several months I worked 12-18 hours each and every Saturday on the channel. My wife and kid sacrificed a lot by giving me this time. I missed out on a year's worth of family outings with my wife and daughter when she was at a very important age. But I knew, and my wife knew, that this was important. Eventually it paid off. Now I am a full time content creator and while it's still a very laborious and time consuming career choice (most people really have no idea how much time and effort it actually takes to do this) I do have a LOT more freedom and flexibility with my schedule. Now I can make up that lost time and be a far more involved Dad than I would be with a "normal" day job".  11. What was the most rewarding experience you’ve had in the hobby?

"There's been a few, but one that really stands out is when I was messaged by a guy who works in the special effects industry in Hollywood. He told me that him, and many people in that field, were big fans and avid viewers. Not only that but that he had used several techniques he learned from me on props he built for the Avengers films as well as some other movies like the most recent Hellboy. That kind of blew my mind. He even sent me some photos of him working on props for those movies in his BMC shirt right there in Hollywood. It was really crazy. Another similar thing was when a viewer toured the Weta Workshop in New Zealand (the company that did the practical effects for the Lord of the Rings films), he mentioned my channel and the Weta guys knew all about it and were apparently big fans and watched regularly. This was so cool and I'm really glad this viewer shared that story with me. It made my day and I'm still really proud of that little thing. Lastly I have to mention being interviewed on radio by CBC about what I do. It was really cool to be recognized in this way by my country's largest national media outlet. That was the type of recognition I never imagined getting from this".  12. If you could do anything to expand your company/studio/channel footprint, what would it be?

"Staff. Hiring some staff. My channel has gotten to the point that it has really outgrown being a one man operation. It's barely manageable doing it all myself and that is holding me back a fair bit on my creativity and what I can make in my limited time. I would really like to hire someone to act as both a camera person and an editor. I don't want to just contract out an editor, I'd like to find someone that is more involved during the filming process. I think having a second person would improve the dynamics of my content a lot and having another person deal with filming and editing would literally double the amount of time I can spend actually building stuff. Right now the time I have each week for actually building things is so restrictive and I think the biggest limitation of the channel".  13. What product line do you endorse and what about their products do you feel sets them above their competitors?

"I think it's pretty clear the two products I love most are my Proxxon hotwire cutter and the accessories for it made by Shifting Lands. I use them all the time, promote them heavily because I love them and use them so much, and neither are official sponsors or anything. They are just so good and so crucial to what I do. There are a lot of competitors making hotwire tables and so far they've all seem to be very inferior compared to the Proxxon. But there is a new one on the market by Hercules that looks to be a clone but with some minor improvements. I think that one looks really promising and I've been considering ordering one to try out. It could be a great alternative".  14. If you could earn a sponsorship or endorsement from your dream company, who would it be and why?

Wizards of the Coast. Full stop. I won't rest and wont be happy until they collaborate with me to make something for some sort of big official Dungeons and Dragons live show. Wake up WotC! Hit me up!

Well Jeremy, let's see what we can do about getting you that WotC sponsorship brother! Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me!

Readers, let's do what we can to bring this guy's work to the doorstep of the WotC people. Share it around and let's get this endorsement rolling!

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