Volomir: Matteo, tell us something about yourself for everyone who doesn’t know you. Can you tell us a bit about your painting history?
Matteo: I began to paint miniatures in 1995, my first miniature were some 28mm from a range of Ral Partha that were possible to find in stores at that time. I came to know about those after I received a precious red box of Dungeons and Dragons. A few years later I started to see the first few miniatures of Warhammer and I started to collect lot of undead and chaos. In 2000 I take part in the opening of the first official games workshop store in Milan where I could improve my technique on miniature painting by receiving suggestions from various other guys that already had experience from UK. I've worked there for about 2 years and in 2004 I won my first slayer sword at the third edition of our Italian Golden Demon. Since that time I kept painting and starting to learn a few things about sculpting as well, without any bigger purpose than the necessary to customize existing models to fit better my imagination. On suggestion of my recently met friend Fabrizio Russo I also began to participate in other contests, including historical ones, with him. This broadened my vision on miniatures and I started to give more attention to other wide ranges of miniatures that were not necessarily GW. Even so, Citadel will remain as my "first love". Now, on our last GD edition I presented my second nurgle supercreation because I still consider GD as a big objective, probably one of the most important contest about fantasy miniatures and in Italy painter community has grown so much because of it,the level has risen a lot here since 2004 so even though I was already satisfied when I returned from World Expo in Montreaux, I can't conceal that receiving my second slayer at a Golden Demon together with the Best of Forgeworld made me definitely happy.
Volomir: Have you learnt to paint and sculpt all by yourself, have you attended courses, or do you have some sort of personal master?
Matteo: I’ve mostly learnt by myself, especially because when I began there was not painting courses at all, not even tutorials on the internet to learn from. While working in the first Games Workshop store in Italy in 2000 I started improving my techniques by watching and asking for suggestions to other guys from the staff that already had some painting experiences in the UK where they made their training before coming to Italy to work at the store. At the moment I’m organizing regular courses of painting both private and with a maximum of 4-5 students at the same time where I try to share both techniques and passion for painting miniatures.
Volomir: Do you think internet tutorials are enough to learn about painting or do we need something else?
Matteo: Of course the new generation of painters receives huge benefits from the various tutorials they can find on the internet. Remember that when I began to paint the only way was learning through loads of mistakes. However I believe that even when they are well explained enough and wrote with simple language, tutorials can only resolve a specific doubt on "how to make" or "how to resolve" a certain circumstance, and they cannot be considered replacement of a master or learning through experience (which again includes making a lot of mistakes).
Volomir: It is usually said that Golden Demon Italy is filled with entries containing a great deal of freehands and that is normally what the jury expects to give awards. What do you think about Golden Demon Italy? Is this really a trend you see there?
Matteo: Yes and no. What disturbs me in general is the use of a banner filled with decoration and freehands which works mostly as an advertising for the miniature than something useful to complete the paintjob. Another bad side of the freehand is that seems used by few painters who don't care at all at about surfaces, volumes and atmosphere of the miniature. They use freehands mostly to mask a quiet flat surface, however those freehands are mostly what catch the attention of the judges so the trend seems to fill all entries with as much freehands as possible, at least for those painter believing that this is the only way to go for the Slayersword. In my opinion, freehands are awesome when they are complete and they add something to the miniature as well as they seem silly to me when they are just used as I said before, as an advertisement or a mask just for the contest. One of my students liked to call this use of freehand "ninja bomb".
Volomir: Your miniature winner of the Slayersword in Italy 2011 is absolutely stunning. Did you prepare it to go for the Slayersword? Were you expecting the award?
Matteo: It's quite an old project actually, in fact I started to work on the spawn from Forgeworld two years ago, but I put that project apart because I couldn't find any good miniature to ride it and I dusted it off recently when I saw that new champion of Nurgle that Games Workshop released a few months ago... moreover in plastic!! That was perfect. It's hard to say I was expecting anything recently, the level of the Italian GD has grown dramatically, but I worked hard on this project so I was at least expecting to place it on the podium if not to aim for the BOS (Best of Show) or the Best of Forgeworld since I decided to use a mix of their miniature and Games Workshop.
Volomir: People often prepare great works to compete for the Slayersword. They consider all the aspects, such as size of the entry, trend topics, or commercial decisions. Do you think there is a specific formula to enter competition to aim for the Slayersword?
Matteo: Not at all, I did it probably for a very short time, but I believe that when you paint something you really enjoy to paint everything comes alone without any kind of commercial consideration. This time for this specific entry I just wanted to show a different use of the "freehand" that could be an enrichment for the miniature and not a replacement of everything else, that probably was my only consideration about it.
Volomir: Do you travel abroad to other contests?
Yes, of course. I would love to do it more and often but nowadays the budget is limited and it has to be shared with holidays as well.
Volomir: Who are the painters you most like or admire right now?
Matteo: I don't have any specific name in mind there are a lot of them, I like to watch a wide range of works from different artists, and sometimes even very young painters can offer great ideas and suggestions.
Volomir: Can you tell us something about your upcoming projects? Is there something as big as the Nurgle piece coming in the near future?
I have a lot of things and ideas in my mind apart from Golden Demon. I would like to start taking some distance from the "fantasy universe" we are used to see nowadays. I would love to try and explore new ways; also I began an historical project together with 3 paleontologists, a paleoartist illustrator and a sculptor on dinosaur replicas which brings voice to a big passion of my childhood.
Volomir: And finally, last but not least. I’m sure any painter new to the hobby is eager to hear some counsel from one of the best artists currently. Do you have anything to say to help someone who is starting now and would love to win a Slayersword someday?
Matteo: Yes and it's quite simple, paint anything you like and do it with passion, enjoy every single brushstroke and do not think about the Slayer at all, especially avoid any kind of commercial approach to Golden Demon, don't try to make Games Workshop happy, do it for yourself!