Interview With
Aaron Lovejoy from Miniature Monthly

miniature monthly

Aaron Lovejoy stands out in the miniature painting community as a key figure at Miniature Monthly. His approach combines sharing his impressive painting skills and techniques through lively and engaging video tutorials. Aaron is deeply involved in the miniature painting scene, always eager to teach and help fellow artists improve their craft with his knowledgeable and approachable style.

How did you start miniature painting?

As a kid, I used to paint model tanks and airplanes and tanks with my dad. When I was 29 I discovered Warhammer 40K at a local game store and I was hooked. Fortunately for me there were a lot of really good army painters in the San Diego area and this further inspired me to take my painting more seriously. In 2003 I attended my first Golden Demon competition and that’s when the painting bug really took hold of me!

Aaron Lovejoy

What was the most difficult painting technique to learn?

I think for me it was learning non metallic metal. It’s all about creating that illusion of metal and I just couldn’t work it out in my head. One day it just clicked…with many thousands of hours of practice of course! Back then there were no YouTube videos to watch or Patreon’s to subscribe to. You just had to learn everything with trial and error. That made the process an incredibly long one.

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What is the key tip you would give to a miniature painter who wants to improve?

Invest in your learning. Whether that be taking classes at a convention, weekend bootcamps or even signing up to a Patreon or two, or three. l\Learning from other fantastic painters is the fastest way to level up. A lot of the techniques I know took me years to figure out.These are things that can be learned in a 2 hour class. There is so much information out there, make good use of it! I have been doing this hobby for over 20 years now and I am STILL investing in my learning.

Aaron Lovejoy

Which painting techniques do you wish you had taken the time to learn sooner?

Definitely the airbrush. Wet blending is a close second.

Aaron Lovejoy miniature monthly

What is your main source of inspiration?

Other miniature painters for sure. I am also inspired by video games, movies and shows about murder. 😉 I also watch a lot of Mural Joe YouTube videos. They have nothing to do with miniature painting but I learn so much about painting in general from his videos.

Aaron Lovejoy

What is your proudest achievement to date?

I think seeing my students achieve their dreams is a really proud moment for me. I know how good it feels to win a Best of Show or to have a vision in my mind and then the final paint job looks as good or better. It feels really good when one of my students finds the same success or even more! There are so many talented artists out there, just being part of their story is the best.

miniature monthly Aaron Lovejoy

Which of your painted miniatures is your favorite or most meaningful to you?

I think it was my Voldemort piece. I had to learn how to digitally sculpt, and then how to 3d print. The whole process took about 2 years but I think the finished piece was well worth it in the end!

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Aaron Lovejoy

Do you play any board games or wargames with miniatures?

Yes, I play Warhammer 40K, Shadows of Brimstone, Zombicide, Marvel Crisis Protocol, Titanicus, and A Song of Ice and Fire. I also love playing Call of Duty (video game).

When did you start painting at what you would consider a serious level? What do you think makes a ‘pro painter’?

I was never good at the gaming side of things. I enjoy it but I was never going to win a tournament or the local league. So the painting side of things definitely appealed to me more.. I had been painting for about 3 years when I went to my first Golden Demon competition. I saw the amazing entries and was like, “That’s what I want to do!” I wasn’t as good as those other painters but I was willing to work hard and eventually,after 5 years of trying, I started winning. As for being a “Pro” painter, well that could mean almost anything. If you take money for painting then you are a “Pro” right?? I know people who have been painting for 3 months and claim to be “Pro Painters”. I think to be a true professional you are doing it full time and you provide a dependable service for your customers while still providing for your family..That is just my own interpretation of course.

Aaron Lovejoy

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

First off, be ready to work long hours. 12 hour days are very normal, especially if you have mouths to feed other than yourself.

Second, put a value on your work. I see too many painters who are making well below minimum wage simply because they never bother to do a cost analysis of their services.
If you’re too slow to make a fair wage, do something else and just paint for fun. Don’t ruin your hobby over wanting to be a “Pro Painter”.

Third, be prepared to diversify. I don’t know any painters who are making a living off painting alone. For instance I paint miniatures, I co-authored a book (The Art of Miniature Monthly), helped design an airbrush (the Reaper Vex), have a Patreon (Miniature Monthly), and I teach (convention style classes, weekend bootcamps, and online courses). All of these add to my yearly income and help keep me above water financially.

Fourth, keep a positive attitude. There will be good times and bad times. Just keep moving forward. 

Fifth, allow yourself to hate your job. I know that sounds crazy but a lot of people think that since you are turning the thing that you love into a business, that you have to love it everyday. If you find yourself hating it, then your hobby is ruined and you quit. There are days that I wake up and never want to paint again and I am ok with that because I know that most of the time, this is the best job I have ever had!

My last little nugget of wisdom is this, and I’ll ask you to sit down for this one. The worse you paint, the more money you will make. How many of you just spit your drink out? I know that sounds weird but hear me out. High end paint jobs take a long time, usually longer than what you had quoted it for. In my own business I have noticed that I typically go over time with box art and display pieces. I typically make between 10 and 20 dollars an hour for those high end pieces while for a low end gaming level piece I can make anywhere from 30 to 60 dollars an hour simply because I can go faster. I’m not worried about hitting the perfect shade of blue or getting the blends good enough to photograph. Do I want them to look good? Of course, but I am not trying to make them perfect and that is typically where the time sink comes into play. Keep that in mind when you are making your business plan and do a mixture of both. .

Aaron Lovejoy

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