- V: Ben, when would you say is the moment when you started to paint miniatures seriously?
Ben: Well... I think it was back in 2002-2003. In 2002 a Friend of mine, Kevin Kosse, came back from the Golden demon and he had won 2 demons we where painting for the same shop in Berlin and although we where friends we were also rivals in our small world and I thought "if he can win I could do the same". I had never participated on a competition before, so i asked him to take me along to the next year's show in Cologne and so it was. I painted the whole year to have something like 12 entries! And i really won a prize! My first Golden Demon ever with my most crappy piece of all, it took me about 2.5 hours to paint.
Well, that got me hooked. I thought to myself: "Oh no! All the people will think that´s how that "Ben Komets guy" paints!". So i thought about getting a trophy next year with a model that I didn´t want to hide. That´s how the fairytale started.
V: Have you learnt to paint all by yourself, have you attended courses, or do you have some sort of personal master?
Ben: Well I learned most of it by myself, thats why it took years and years and years to improve my painting. Then when I started to think outside the box and started to travel and see all the wonderful works of other great painters. A lot of people I have met really inspired me. When I went to Paris the first time it blew me away, so many creative and open minded people. It helped to increase my level of paint, just by looking at all that wonderful stuff. I also took part in a painting class from the master of disaster Jérémie "Mr. butterfinger " Bonamant Teboul.
If you have reached a certain level of painting, people tend to not critic your works so much, and if you don't get any constructive criticism, you slow down your progress a lot. So Jeremie's class helped a lot. I always ttell the people at my painting classes: "it hurts when people get their mistakes shown but its the most helpful thing out there. Only if you see exactly what you are doing wrong you can avoid it.
I think that nowadays everyone can learn very fast with all the painting classes, books, dvds and online tutorials available.
V: Would you say you have a personal style of painting? Do you think that people could recognise a work of yours without knowing that it is yours previously?
Ben: I thought about this question quite often, and I would say yes, I have a style people could recognize. When I look in my showcase and I see some of my old projects compared to my new ones I still see that it's the same mood and technique. Well it all improved. Luckily I think one main reason for this is the choice of colours and what I would describe as a narrative style. I think a story/idea is always more important than the technical aspect of painting. I see miniature painting in the gap between arts and crafts and real art. So you need skills to transport your idea. Also I'm a big fan of "passionate" speed. That's when you see a model where you can almost feel the energy that the painter puts into his work. For example: if you try 500th hour of perfect blending the miniature you have the risk that's its something like "dead through perfection". You just feel like "oh no"... Thanks I don't need to see the backside of the mini. I'm sure it will be as perfect as the front. Thank you sir . Also the reality is not perfect. It's the little faults and the unexpected things what fascinates the eye and the heart.
V: Have you ever tried historical miniatures?
Ben: Yes. But somehow the historical correctness of colors and stuff limits my mind. I guess I should think more freely about those things. In my heart I'm a fantasy painter. So maybe surrealism is the answer.
V: Which do you consider is your best work so far?
Ben: It's really hard to judge your own work. The more you work on it, the more you lose the distance that you need for judging. I try to improve on every project a little bit. So I would say that rather than a favourite work there are more like small parts, small effects that Ii like in my work.
V: Do you see miniature painting as a professional activity or is it just a hobby for you?
Ben: Half-half. I have a day job and I´m a brush for hire at night. So I'm kind of a nerdy Batman. Without the costume i must admit.
V: Many painters tend to have a favourite colour which they tend to use it in all their works. Do you have something similar, a fetish colour, or maybe a fetish element you try to include in all your pieces? Any fetish at all?
Ben: Yes. My favourite colours, the ones I really use a lot are Dark Sea Blue (Vallejo Model Color), Tankbrown (vallejo Model Color), Scorched Brown (GW)...
Well and the most voodoo like ingredient of all times: not human hair... saliva!!
uuurgh... yes i´m a brushlicker... and proud of it!!
V: Ben, you managed to win a lot of Slayerswords in Golden Demons. Do you usually go to other contests outside the Golden Demon circuit?
Ben: Yes I went to a lot of different shows all over europe. I wish I had more time for that. That's my favourite thing about painting miniatures. Traveling, meeting new people and old friends, and talk about their passion and see their work in real person. The nice thing about the Golden Demon is that its a bit like a big family meeting, a very nerdy and smelly one. It's what got me started.
V: Can you tell us something about your upcoming projects?
...hehehe... Ok I was joking. Last year Ii have been very busy. I have a new job and I am painting a lot of commissions lately, so the time I had for my own projects is pretty rare. I hope to find time to make something big. Keep your eyes open. haha... you will recognize it!
V: When you enter competition in Golden Demon, do you prepare to compete for the sword or is it something that just comes without notice? If so, are you planning to go for a Slayersword again soon?
Ben: Mostly I have a project in mind. Sometimes you feel it's going to be so massive that it might have the chance of winning the sword. But the game is more about improvement then about winning. Sometimes you just want to make a small beautiful scene. There are so many aspects in the judgment. You cannot predict anything. So it's better to do what you really want.
V: And finally, last but not least. Is it true that you won the Sword several times because of being sexy? Do you have any comments on this matter?
Ben: You know my secret...hahah... so: yes... it's true!!
And regarding the previous question about swords... as being sexy is my magic juju that is what brings me all the swords, I am going for another very soon!
What a great interview Ben! Lots of very interesting thoughts being thrown out there. And yeah, very very sexy! Keep up the good work man, we hope to see more of your very sexy works soon.
You can find Ben in the internet together with his colleagues at the jungle that is Massive Voodoo. I leave you the link if you don't know about it yet.