Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Army Painter Interview



Bo Pensoft and Jonas Faering have made a name for themselves in the hobby by creating a whole new way to paint and then building a company around it.  Here is an interview with them both.




Bo Penstoft
Bo has a history working 10 years for Games Workshop, the last 6 years as their Northern European Head of Marketing, before deciding on the adventure of running his (and Jonas) own business. Bo is a veteran gamer and is very active on the tournament scene.

 

Jonas Faering
Jonas has owned and run a series of very successful Retail stores in Scandinavia. This experience is widely used when he tests the quality/design/useability of the company’s products, to see if they fit the Retail demands. Jonas has a history of working for Games Workshops ’Eavy Metal team as one of their master painters.      


 
1)      How did you two start in the hobby?

BO: like most people I know – it all started with Dungeons & Dragons when I was a young lad. Back in the day (some 25 years ago) D&D was only in English, so we sat down with a translation book and went through EVERY word in the book. We did not want to talk to our parents as we didn’t want all the questions associated with it – it was OUR thing. It took weeks but was well worth it though. The love of miniatures came slowly as using rubber erasers and small pearls did not do it for us in the long run. We started by buying the old Talisman character single packs from GW – and Scarlocs Wood Elves were the first Warhammer set for me. I was so excited about it I did not open it for 2 days – to simply prolong the experience. It seems a bit weird today when I think about it, but who can truly tell what is going on in the mind of a 13 year old sometimes – anyway it made sense back then.


2)  How did you two meet?

Jonas was Scandinavian sales manager for GW some 15 years back and he needed a sales rep. for Denmark. There were not many applicants – so I got the job. “ Danes stranded in the Misty Islands of UK, we quickly sought each others company and spend the time painting miniatures, drinking Lager and talking bullshit. It was great days and we quickly became friends and not boss and Employee.

3)  Why did you start The Army Painter?

When I left GW 10 years later as the Head of Marketing for Northern Europe, I knew a lot about what ticked the gamers (being a frantic one myself) and had been on countless Marketing Diploma courses. Games Workshop are great mentors and back then they really had a great staff policy – so when I left my GW Toga and Sandals at the Nottingham reception in 2006 I was well ready to take on a company.

Jonas contacted me regarding an idea of his (later to be known as Quickshade) and we developed a business plan. Very early on it was clear to us that there was only “one” way to paint (the GW way) accepted by most painters – and we wanted to offer an alternative.

We both wanted quality over cheap shit – and we set down a products testing group for all our products – gamers of all ages. If they liked it we would then see if we could produce it.

4)  These aren't just new paints, but a new WAY to paint.  Why did you feel this was needed?

The goal was simple actually: there were so many unpainted armies at the tournaments we frequented so we wanted to make it accessible for everybody to have a decent looking army to play with – also the less artistically gifted. The 4 step system were developed and we knew that we had something cool. It was an exciting time (development always is) and we knew we had to make it as user friendly as possible. The fact that we still have gamers today writing to us and saying thanks for getting them back into the Hobby makes all the long hours and nights well worth it.




5)  Tell us about how you chose the companies to produce your paints.

Most often manyufacturers write a contract with one company. This is also the easiest thing as you do not have to look and source for a long time and is convenient to have just one contact. BUT, if the ultimate overall quality is what you are trying to achieve (does not really exist I admit – but worth aiming at) – then you got to pull in the hours to find exactly what you need. Jonas is also an ex. ‘Eavy Metal GW painter, so he knew quality when he saw it. It puts a strain on your Supply chain management skills but if the result is a thought through tight paint range with the best possible products available, picking a supplier who specializes in inks, one for some acrylics (depending on pigment type and one for metallic is what you have to do. Realizing that no-one can be the masters of everything is the key – so pick the masters of each produxt segment and you should be sorted.

6)  What has been your biggest challenge in starting The Army Painter?

Underestimating the time things take if you want to do them right. And getting small children in the process of starting a new company – not sleeping at night but pulling in 14-15 hours of work for weeks on end – really sucks.

I think the learning curve was steep, but our customers were very forgiving so the fact that we were constantly late on our releases could have gone a lot worse than it did.



7)  Is the technology of painting changing?

Not really to be honest. Granted, there are new machines and shiny gubbinz out there – but innovation comes from the peop,e within the industry. We are slowly seeing a shift in management of some major paint manufacturers and that fact that “young” people takes over is great as it often leads to “yes – we’ll try” instead of “no –can’t be done”.

8)  What will be different about painting in 5 years?

More people will use Army painter, if I can have a say in it!

Seriously though, the Hobby will always remain the Hobby: ie. We collect, paint and game with fantastic miniatures. The composition of the market is an entirely other matter altogether. We are constabntly seeing new companies form via kickstarter which is great, but the basics remain the same.

As for painting, I think you will probably see the “elitism” of painters disappear and more people having “basic” but great looking armies instead. GW’s system of having 4 paints to do the job clearly shows rhat they are finally getting it: that not all can paint like Matt Pakers or mike McVey – and showing normal, although cool looking armies is sometimes more inspiring than showing only Golden Daemon class miniatures.

But perhaps I am just being coloured in my world of speed painting?

9)  What does the future hold for The Army Painter?

Many interesting projects – but basically more of the same. I would love to tell you that we were working on ground breaking, earth shattering new releases – but that would just be pillow talk. We want to be better at what we do and so our products will change slightly for the better whenever we have the chance.

There are many ideas out there, but if it is Army Painter as such who is going to do it, or a new company – will remain to be seen (ideas of Gaming accessories, miniatures, board games etc. are constantly flying around the AP studio.)

10) Are you two having fun?

More than ever!


Thanks to  Bo and Jonas for their time and make sure you try out The Army Painter system.

Loken

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