Meridian Miniatures are the producer of hand sculpted resin cast miniatures, made by sculptor Andrew May. He has had great success in the indy miniature scene with previous Kickstarter campaigns for minis based on the art of Moritz Krebs, Heironymous Bosch, and medieval marginalia. Lenoon and Skails have a chat with him about the hobby, sculpting, and art. His upcoming Kickstarter campaign, A Feast for Flies – The Deathless, featuring undead creations will be running from October 23rd, 2023 through October 30th, 2023.
Aaron ‘Lenoon’ Bowen: could you give us a potted history of you and the minis hobby before Meridian Miniatures?
Andrew May: I first got into minis when I was 7 years old around 1990, as with many other children of the era, I was handed a copy of Heroquest and never looked back. By my mid teens I, along with my brother had an array of minis, a hobby room in the family home and regularly attended Games Day/Golden Demon. Everyone has a hiatus, work took over in my early twenties but it was only a few years until I took up sculpting miniatures as a hobby. I went full time circa 2012 and have been sculpting and producing minis full time ever since.
Daniel ‘Skails’ Rodenberg: It’s a very familiar “getting into miniatures story”. Did you have a favourite faction to play/collect? Did your interest in sculpting begin with converting or kitbashing figures?
AM: Yes a tale repeated world wide (except I ended up doing it for a job). My favourite faction was actually space orks (something I am currently revisiting) but I was also really into the whole Realm of Chaos thing for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Many of my first forays into sculpting was in creating custom Nurgle minis for my warbands.
DR: How did your sculpting go from being a hobby into a job?
AM: When I got into sculpting full minis in my late twenties I would post pictures on online forums. When I got good enough people started asking to buy them for production. I started getting commissions from larger companies such as Crooked Dice and Otherworld Miniatures and I ended up being booked solidly for months. Over a decade later most of my freelance work is gone, medium sized companies have been forced out of the market and digital sculpting has proved a much more attractive option for tiny tiny start ups. Thus I am mainly sculpting for my own personal projects like my collaboration with Moritz Krebs/Black Crab Art these days.
AB: What was it about Black Crab that captured your attention and made you think “alright, time to sculpt this?”
AM: About 5 years ago I just happened upon Moritz’s art page on Instagram and thought, these would make amazing minis. I sent him a casual message asking if we could figure out a deal if I sculpted them and happily, he agreed.
What was an informal experiment has become a huge part of my career, Moritz has been a generous and enthusiastic collaborator and it has been great to watch both of our skills and careers develop over the last 5 year.
AB: How do you decide which pieces to translate into mini form?
AM: Usually we pick a theme, these days it’s influenced by what I’m being asked for by the community. I’ll scour Moritz’s archive and see what existing artwork already exists and then some new sketches will often appear to fill any gaps, sometimes I’ll request something like the female minis that we did for the mercenaries set or Moritz will have an idea that he really want to see brought to life. With the latest set I had a lot of requests for undead minis so we pooled our resources and came up with a plan. It really was hard to narrow down the concepts so we have ended up with the biggest set of minis so far! (And we still had to drop things!)
AB: You’ve been really successful through kickstarting waves of the range – why Kickstarter?
AM: Simple answer is exposure. I don’t want to give away so much in fees etc. but Kickstarter has an enormous shopfront so to speak. Added to that, everyone that has backed me before is notified automatically and that is a huge number of people at this point. Not that the people are merely data. I have genuinely built up a great relationship with my backers, it’s always wonderful seeing the same names come back again and again and to receive such warm feedback from everyone. Not that Kickstarter is perfect, I had an unexpected smash success with my Bosch campaign this year and it has ended up being a long process to fulfill, I pride myself on being timely in fulfillment so massive success can be a double edged sword. That said, I am well overdue to get an online store, something that I’ll have to get sorted next year.
DR: What kind of sculpting clay or putty do you prefer to use? How is your final product cast and produced for customers?
AM: All of my minis are sculpted on a wire and epoxy putty armature and then detailed with polymer clay. The brand I use is actually no longer manufactured but I have a big stash! My resin casting is handled by MDP (Model Display Products) in Wales. Tom and Martyn there do an amazing job, everything is done by hand including cleaning the feeds and casting blocks from the mini to save customers work and get the tidiest minis possible to you.
AB: Your models are right at the forefront of the weird 28 movement – turnip, sludge, etc etc and the Grimdark fantasy renaissance we’re going through at the moment. Why do you think this has got so popular? and why now?
AM: I think that this indie Grimdark renaissance has been the result of the market leaders Games Workshop having fostered the aesthetic in their in house art over decades but in the main, not providing miniatures that fit that style and actively making the ultra-clean ‘eavy metal style their actual marketing aesthetic. I’m 40 this year, having a heritage of over three decades of wanting my hobby to inhabit this Grimdark sphere, I also have the accumulated skills of three decades to make this a reality. I think there’s a lot of enthusiasts like me that are hungry for minis that fill this niche and of course I’m very happy that this is the case. I’m sure too that we aren’t just a bunch of middle aged hobbyists, places like discord seem to throng with younger folks that have immediately latched into these more underground themes so I’m hoping that there really is a whole new generation out there ready to join in with this scene.
DR: It’s such a great space for creative exploration. I saw you have partnered up with Ana from Gardens of Hecate to kickstart her Folk Horrors range and have previewed a mini you’re working on for a collaboration with Sin Eater. Are there any other sculptors, illustrators, or artists in this grimdark sphere whose work you find inspiring?
AM: That’s the cool thing, at this stage of my career I’m getting to work with artists that I am really inspired by, nothing is more of a grind than sculpting from a reference that you have no interest in at all. There are so many other artists out there that I am inspired by that I find it hard to list. Obviously I have the whole of art history to play with, I’ve done Hieronymus Bosch and there’s more in that vein. I also have a couple more collabs that I can’t talk about right now but I must be careful not to spread myself too thin, Moritz’s art will remain my favourite for years to come. So far as community inspiration though, I must say that Peter Vigor’s Necropolis28 project is super inspiring, I have fallen behind keeping up with it which is something I must rectify!
DR: It’s quite an evocative world he’s built (Editor’s Note: You can find Necropolis rules on it’s Patreon for free). That about wraps it up. Thanks for talking with us, and good luck with kickstarter (which you, reader, should go and check out – and back! – immediately)
Questions, comments, suggestions? Examples of Meridian Minis to show off? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below