Miniature painting making it big
Transforming a hobby to a career
Photos and story by ROY FANG
Jim Vesal caters to wargamers who prefer gaming or collecting over painting. Vesal, who received the hobby track award for his painted models in the 2019 International Tournament Circuit, paints tabletop miniatures in his Vancouver apartment for a living.
“I’d won quite a few awards that year regarding my painting so a lot of people knew me as both a fast painter and a good painter,” Vesal said.
Tabletop wargames involve players fielding dozens of painted miniature models to simulate combat versus another player’s force. Vesal, who has painted models since he was 12, was able to utilize his reputation to acquire a steady and returning client base for his business, Duplicity Paint Studios.
“Generally with my clients, if they liked my work they’ll continue to work with me on future projects, different projects, sometimes they’ll build on existing projects.”
Stefan H, an employee at Strategies Games and Hobbies, a Vancouver-based store that specializes in board games and tabletop games, said that some people enjoy painting models to relax.
“A lot of people enjoy the hobby just for the painting and not actually the gaming aspect,” he said.
Vesal previously worked in hospitality but painting has become his full-time job for the last six months. He plans to return to working in hospitality when he finds a role that appeals to him.
“[Painting is] a really good counterbalance to the chaos of hospitality,” Vesal said. “I can do it alone in the quiet and it’s chill. It’s no one else and it’s just me, whereas hospitality is the complete opposite.”
Vesal has recently finished his latest commissioned work, space marine Warhammer 40k models for a returning client who is from Florida.
Tabletop miniatures are often designed on a small scale and require skilled hand-eye coordination to paint properly. The pieces to assemble the model are highly detailed and sometimes very delicate.
After finishing the space marines, Vesal then began work on another commission, Tyranid bugs for a client’s Warhammer 40k army.
In his free time between commissions, Vesal works on personal painting projects to destress. These projects include his new and growing Warhammer 40k Aeldari army and figurines of his favourite video game characters.