Being Professional

The hardest part though is the need to tackle a project and know that time is not allowing you to work on it to the best of your ability

How building models for a living, is different from building for your hobby…

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I love my job – in fact, it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do and I’m blessed to be able to make a living from something that I not only love, but I’m good at. But it’s not for everyone.

Building models for a hobby and building them for a living are poles apart and only the most dedicated, most driven and most bloody-minded, ever stick it out for more than a few years. Before I began on this career path over twenty years ago, I built what I wanted, when I wanted and how slowly I wanted. Now, I build what others ask me, when they ask me and to deadlines that really are unbelievable! I’ve seen great modellers take it up professionally and be burned-out within a year as they try and keep up with the schedules, new kit releases and their own innate desire to keep on improving. Equally, I’ve seen rubbish builders carry on regardless and make money from it. It’s not how good you are – it’s how you decide to approach the rigours of the job. For some it works: for others, it’s a nightmare.

Of course, that makes it sound awful – it isn’t. I work as part of a team that offer choices that I can make and I have the opportunity to build kits that I could never afford and that means that each month is different. I could be building cars, bikes, trains, aircraft, armour, figures, dioramas – you name it, I’ve been asked to build it! But always, those builds are to deadlines and at the moment, that means around three full builds a month – by the end of this year alone, I will have completed between 25 and 30 models and by any standard, that’s a lot of work

The hardest part though is the need to tackle a project and know that time is not allowing you to work on it to the best of your ability. Almost always, I set a date and then cut the model loose, irrespective of whether or not I’m happy with it. So long as the editors are happy and the model looks good in the pictures, the project is a success. It’s all about the pictures, baby! These models are not my personal projects, they are there to do one thing and one thing only: decorate the pages of a magazine and be enjoyed by the readers. Nothing more, nothing less. I’d love to take 6 months over a model and then offer it up to a voracious audience at a model show, tell everyone how much I’ve done to this, that or the other and aren’t I so clever, but if I was to do that, I’d be stacking shelves in the local supermarket within 5 minutes! So the upshot of all this is that I have to put my ego to bed and simply do as asked – and do it quickly. Sometimes I pine for the days when I could really turn out something wonderful (the days of me building another ‘Workshop’ diorama are long-gone!), but if I did that, I wouldn’t eat. That doesn’t mean my standards have dropped because they haven’t, but I now know how to do what I need to do with systems that work, because if I experiment and it goes wrong, I’ll find myself chasing my tail and then working weekends to correct my mistakes!

Building models for a living is a fantastic job – but it’s still a job and so if you are looking to enter the industry and make a living from it, make sure that you are happy to lose your hobby, because once you sign on that dotted line, there’s no going back!

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