Born in 1980, started painting miniatures when he was 11 years old. He finished school with two A-levels diploma in art and design. At the age of 21 he started his first work in Games Workshop store in Leicester as an shop assisstant. Since that he travelled through other GW stores, pass an internal GW course the `Eavy Metal Academy and went to Warhammer World as a resident painting expert. From there he quickly promoted to an Eavy Metal studio where he works for six years now. He`s also a Golden Demon judge but he has never awarded such trophy!
Szary: How your adventure with miniature painting has started? How long it goes now?
Darren Latham: All in all I’ve been painting for 17 years but 7 years as a professional. My brother got me into it when I was at high school, I liked the painting a lot more than the playing games.
Sz.: So what was first – painting or gaming?
D.L.: Both really, I painted the miniatures from HeroQuest and Space Crusade then got more and more, I did play a lot of Warhammer when I worked in the Games Workshop retail stores but I’ve not played for years now.
Sz.: Can you remember the first mini you have painted? Do you still have it?
D.L.: My brother let me paint one of the goblins from HeroQuest (it was his game). Then he let me paint more because I didn’t mess it up that bad! I don’t have it any more, its probably in a garden somewhere!
Sz.: Have you ever thought that painting miniatures will be your way of earning money?
D.L.: When I was at school the only thing I wanted to do was to paint figs, but my parents always said that it was silly and I had to get a proper job (whatever that is!). It was only when I seen the Eavy Metal team that I realised that it could be a job.
Sz.: So what your family and friends thought when they heard that you gonna paint miniatures as your primary job?
D.L.: I got a few different reactions, some thought it was cool some thought it was silly and it wasn’t a ‘real’ job as I wasn’t stacking shelves or something. But it was what I wanted to do so I went for it.
Sz.: How have you learned to paint miniatures? What helped you the most?
D.L.: Mr Mcvey helped the most when I started, I had no Games Workshop near me so other than painting guides I had to teach myself. When I joined the Eavy Metal team I got a lot of help from Neil Green, he showed me loads of new techniques that I didn’t know about.
Sz.: From an interview with you from WD332 we know that you have diploma both in art and design. That education help you much in miniatures?
D.L.: It has helped in terms of colour theory and designing banners and freehand but other than that miniature painting is its own skill/craft and it has its own requirements.
Sz.: If we talk about this special craft, your personal style of painting is exceptional and easy to recognize. How you achieve so sharp and crisp colours? What kind of undercoat do you use?
D.L.: I mostly use a black undercoat to start. I suppose my sharp and clean painting comes from the old school painting that influences me. I always practices painting space marines when I was younger, I think this helped me with my neatness and sharp lines. When someone asks me “how do you paint neat?” I tell them to practice on marines, you are not allowed to be messy with them!
Planning is very, very important.
Sz.: Can you unveil some facts from your workshop? What paints and brushes do you use? Do you have any your own tricks?
D.L.: I use citadel paints! And use the Masters Brushes. The other things interesting I use are Micro Set for transfers (when I use them) and the best invention in the world is Daler-Rowney Matt Glaze Medium which I use quite a lot for ink flow and glazing.
Sz.: So thats the secret! And by the way, you have just topple the common gossip that in EM you paint with GW brushes.
D.L.: Yes, they are the Citadel Masters Brushes we use.
Sz.: Aren`t they the Winsor & Newton series 7 line under GW brand?
Sz.: Can you tell us how you match colours? Is there any process of planning your colour palette for miniature?
D.L.: Most of the time the miniatures I paint already have a set colour palette, but I always look at art and imagery for inspiration when planning a miniature. Planning is very, very important.
Sz.: In interview which I talked before you have said, that you plan everything, right?
D.L.: Yes, and I try to ask the other Eavy Metal members to do the same.
D.L.: We always talk to the games developers first as they will tell us the background and what they should look like etc. and then the artists will be working on their work at the same time as us so we will communicate with them, it’s very important for us to do this. Also other peoples miniatures inspire me when I’m starting something new.
Sz.: So it is a huge process involving people from different design stages at GW?
D.L.: Yes, we all rely on each other a lot, take one piece away and the process will not work.
Sz.: In your opinion, what is the most important thing in painting miniature to make a splendid effect? Some artist says that everything depends on atmosphere of miniature. Do you agree?
D.L.: Atmosphere comes at the end, most important to me is composition and contrast, if you get these right then the finished miniature will have a pleasing look to the eye.
I paint for about 8 to 10 hours a day and spend around 3 to 4 days on a single character miniature.
Sz.: Do you feel satisfied with your painting works? Or you still feel insufficiency?
D.L.: No, I’m not satisfied yet, I’m still learning and trying new things with painting and I don’t think I will ever stop learning, thats the beauty of it!
Sz.:Yes, indeed. But maybe you have painted something that you are proud the most?
D.L.: The Caradryan that I painted is my most proud painting but I’m right in the middle of something that should blow that out of the water!
Sz.: Wow, that sounds great. Can you show us some of the wip photos? You never shown unfinished mini before I guess.
D.L.: I dont have any yet but it will be finished by the weekend so I can get you some finished pics then. And then for sale on ebay…. again…
Sz.: You don`t have to sell it, right?
D.L.: erm…yes, but I have a family to support and my wife always wants new things! Ha,ha!
Sz.: Oh, that makes things clear. If we talk about painting speed… How much time per day you usually spend on painting? And how much you approximately spare on single mini?
D.L.: I paint for about 8 to 10 hours a day and spend around 3 to 4 days on a single character miniature.
Sz.: It`s a pure passion to work or great stamina?
D.L.: Both, it really helps that I love the job but it takes some getting used too.
Sz.: From time when Mike McVey was teaching painting miniatures all the hobby has developed a lot and today we can easily name some styles of painting minis. Especially after NMM revolution painting went in many directions. Have you ever tryied to paint in different manner?
D.L.: I do like painting in different styles, I always try NMM on my own work to see what effects I can get, my own work always seems to come out clean and crisp and I guess thats my style, some painters try to emulate other painters but I think that its very important to have your own style, don’t get swayed too much by others.
Sz.: One of your marks are magnificent freehands. Do you use any magnifying glass? Can you advise some tips for freehands?
D.L.: No, I never use magnifying glasses (yet!) as I said I always practiced to be neat and I guess that it has given me a very steady hand, the only other thing is to use a decent brush…oh, and PLAN what you are painting in freehand first.
Sz.: But let`s get back to EM. Because of company guidelines you are usually limited in your work. But how do you cope as a team to paint the whole range of miniatures so similar in style? It`s almost impossible to recognize who painted what.
D.L.: Now that we have been given a bit more freedom within how we paint. You can recognise some styles mainly on characters or colour varients. When we paint a unit together we match the ‘house style’ of Eavy Metal, this is neat clean sharp and it must show the product at its best.
Sz.: So it`s obvious for painters, that they must ‘fit’ within those borders and paint in standards?
D.L.: Yes, its very important to meet the standards! If it doesn’t it has to be changed or it gets rejected mwhahahah!
I used to have a few armies but now I only fit in a game of Blood Bowl in every so often, its a great game!
Sz.: You are naturally related with Games Workshop products. Do you paint miniatures from other manufactures? I found just a few in your gallery.
D.L.: Yes, I have done a few in the past but mainly for commission work, I mainly try to stick with G.W products now as after painting other miniatures I really believe that ours are the best in quality.
Sz.: So rethorically asking – your favourite miniature manufacture is Games Workshop?
D.L.: erm… yes!
Sz.: Have you ever painted something which took you a lot of work and effort and nobody saw that?
D.L.: Nearly, the Avatar that I painted was not going to be shown but luckily it made it into White Dwarf.
Sz.: Except painting, have you ever tryied your skills in sculpting?
D.L.: Yep. I’ve done some sculpting but its not really for me, I can do bits and bobs but I don’t have the passion for it like miniature painting.
Sz.: Do you have any idols? People or works you admire the most?
D.L.: The painters work I like the most are: Seb Archer (automaton), David Rodriguez (karaikal), Mike and Ali Mcvey, Martin Footit and Jakob Rune Nielsen. A couple of painters to look out for are Joseph Tomaszewski and Anja Wettergren, some very very good work coming from them now.
Sz.: And how about you – do you think of yourself as an artist?
D.L.: In a way, I’m qualified as an artist and apply some of it to my work but its a grey area weather it is art painting miniatures. You could say I’m a 3D artist! !
Sz.: You rarely show in miniature communities over internet, last time it was Spanish Forum. Is that because you evade such forums?
D.L.: I just stick to CoolMiniOrNot really, it seems to be the centre of things, and you need to have time to go onto other forums and thats one thing that I don’t have, my two sons drag me kicking and screaming to play Xbox Live with them! (its a hard life).
Sz.: If we talk about kids. Have you tried to get them in hobby also?
D.L.: Not yet, in a few years when they are older and only if THEY want to, I’m not going to push them.
Sz.: Do you have sometimes those days when you are thinking about leaving all this work, you are bored of it?
D.L.: No, I love it! And what would I do? I’m very lucky to have a job that I have a passion for, its a rare thing to find.
Sz.: That`s a thing that we can only envy. But If you wouldn`t paint minis as a job what would you do?
D.L.: I always wanted to be a teacher, so I guess it would be that.
Sz.: Maybe miniature painting tutor? That would be great!
D.L.: I kind of am, I’ve just recently been made senior figure painter!
Sz.: Congratulations for that! What help you to mobilize and concentrate? For example, do you listen music while painting?
D.L.: Yes, lots of music and audio CDs.
Sz.: What`s your favourite kind?
D.L.: I like older music like The Beatles and movie sound tracks, the best audio CDs are The Sherlock Holmes ones!
Sz.: Do you play any miniature game? Have any army?
D.L.: I used to have a few armies but now I only fit in a game of Blood Bowl in every so often, its a great game!
Sz.: Good rumble isn`t bad, right?
Sz.: Do you have any other passions except miniatures?
D.L.: I know it may sound sad but my family and miniatures is pretty much my life…oh, and Halo 3 on Xbox Live!
Sz.: The day has only 24 hours, not everything can be done. Many young adepts dream to be one day amongst the best in Eavy Metal. What should they practice the most to have a chance to join you?
D.L.: Neatness consistency, colour composition and contrast.
Sz.: This interview will be published on Polish website. Do you know any Polish miniature artists?
D.L.: Kind of, Joe in the Eavy Metal team has Polish parents so if that counts then yes! Also Ana from cool mini is she Polish?
Sz.: Yes, she is. More of that – She and her husband are founders of our painting studio and website.
D.L.: Oh great , very nice work, very nice! The drune raiders are awesome that she did.
Sz.: What would you advise to anybody who start his adventure with miniatures and want to be as good as you one day?
D.L.: If you want it go for it! Practice practice, before school, after school, weekend etc. It all adds up and will get you what you want in the end, listen to advice and ask questions from others but don’t be put off by critics everyone has their own opinion. Oh, and plan your work!
Neatness consistency, colour composition and contrast.
Sz.: I think that would be all for now. It was a great pleasure to talk with you. I love your works, keep that going my friend and thanks for your time.
D.L.: Cool, thank you for your time also. Great interview!
Links from Guest
Interview wrote on: May, 26th, 2008. First published on ChestofColors.com.