October’s Golden Demon held in the UK was special for two reasons: it was the first held in the country for a few years due to the pandemic and marked the 35th anniversary of the competition.
Soggy and Bair were on the ground and are here with a series of articles and interviews showing different aspects and perspectives of the event. For a bit of history or context, click here.
We caught up with Kieran at Golden Demon to get his perspective as a first time entrant to the competition and thoughts on the hobby in general.
GH: Can I get you to introduce yourself and share what brings you to Golden Demon?
K: I’m Kieran Kies, sometimes known as Kiesminis across social media. It’s my first time entering Golden Demon. I just had a crazy idea of, uh, let’s enter! And I actually spoke to a guy on Instagram called Luke, and he he said to me, Well, I said to him, I don’t know if I should enter and he just kind of said, “Yeah, go for it” and kind of pushed me to join the Golden Demon Pursuit and frantically painted away to try and get an entry in.
GH: How are you feeling? What’s it like to have your finished entry and being here in the hall in front of all these other pieces?
K: It’s awesome because obviously, since getting back into the hobby after lockdown most of my interactions have been mainly online. I only live in Sheffield, so I’m not far away from here and I’ve visited Warhammer World a couple of times. Whenever I get in a painting funk, I always go to the exhibition. It kind of gives me a bit of a lift, but to be here and have people just look at your work and then see the level of other painters is just fantastic.
GH: What’s been your main motivation to enter Golden Demon?
K: I come from kind of a martial arts background years ago, so I’ve always tried to test myself against other people, I think mainly the chance to meet other painters more than anything and see their work in person and see how much progression I still got to go as a painter. You know just how much you can learn from seeing what does work in real life, rather than online. It all looks good online anyway – but seeing it in person, all the blends and the brush strokes is different.
It works both ways I suppose because some things look better online depending on the background, but seeing it in a different light is nice. You see things in both perspectives differently and it inspires me to go out and paint again a bit more.
GH: I was gonna say Lightroom does wonders for my painting, but that’s another thing! What got you into the lobby? And at what point did competitive painting really get on your radar?
K: My uncle was painting Warhammer, fourth edition fantasy. He was always playing like Doom on the on his PC. So I used to go and watch him play Doom. And then one time I went and he was painting these little plastic men. That was my own introduction, I think it was about eight years old, and in my head they’re still the best models I’ve ever seen. It was that instant thing, and he gave me a couple of the Goblins a couple of the High Elves.
I remember at some point getting 40k second edition – I don’t know whether it was a Christmas present from my uncle or my family, and since I’ve always kind of been in into the hobby, but I never really played that much.
I always used to go to the Meadowhall Store and look in the window and window shop. But as with many people, when they’re younger, you just don’t have that kind of financial clout to spend, you don’t have that secondary income to be able to afford things.
Lord of the Rings, obviously when that came out that kind of piqued my interest again and I picked up a few of the magazines with the old metal miniatures in, but, yeah, it was lockdown really. Up until recently I was a freestyle street footballer, doing that kind of thing as my other hobby. Total War: Warhammer, I’ve been playing that for years. So I was looking around to get back into the hobby – unfortunately Warhammer Fantasy had gone by the time I got back into the Hobby, so I started with some Stormcast and Nighthaunt from Soulwars.
I painted a few of them up, and then it kind of just become an addiction like for everyone else and I find I get energy and creativity from painting. Having that freestyle background and doing that as a hobby and sport taught me a lot about patience as a painter as well.
GH: So would you say that painting has always been the focus of your hobby in this hobby, or is that kind of changed over time?
K: I’ve never really played much, so yeah, painting has become it. Another of the reasons I also got back into it was that I’ve got a boy who’s 11. So to get him off the computer, we play some games – we play Cursed City every now and again, Kill Team, all with very sparse rules. When you start playing in lockdown, there’s not a lot people to teach you to play and even with the rulebooks, they’re a bit tricky! I still get lost in some of the wording.
So yeah, painting is the big thing – it becomes a passion and a gradual addiction where I just carried on. I’ve always got that side of me where I want to get better at something, so once I started realising I was progressing, and I work in social media so it grew into a little bit of a following online as well, because of knowing what to do there.
Its nice seeing other people appreciate your work, a nice endorphin rush. I love seeing people’s work online and I really enjoy engaging with other people’s work, no matter the level of painter or the level of hobbyist. I just appreciate the time that people put into it, because you know yourself.
GH: So in terms of your entries, could I get you to talk us through your entries that you’ve got this week?
K: I’ve entered a Makari, for the single 40k. I was recently on a family holiday in Butlins Skegness, Skeg Vegas. I was reading the Ghagzkhull Thraka book and I’m a big fan of Orks anyway, I was just reading it and I got the inspiration from the bit where he’s kind of climbing up the bodies on Armageddon so I named the entry Armageddon, and he’s just sat on some skulls. So there’s the head of an orc from AOS, an arm chopped off one of the objective markers in Cursed City. The book was the inspiration behind that.
I just thought I wanted to enter. My old plan was to do Swampboss Skumdrekk, and I started painting in months ago but I didn’t know if I wanted to enter. So Makari was the lead into that – I can do this, and that will be an entry.
Then I went into my local hobby shop, Hobby Workshop in Barnsley, and I was talking to Andy, the guy there and he’s like go on, get into it! So I went home, started painting Skumdrekk and finally finished him last weekend, put him down, left him because I didn’t want to keep touching him up.
GH: So in terms of the Makari, though, what would you say your strength as a painter is? What were you trying to highlight with your entry?
K: To be honest, I don’t know my strengths, because im still fairly new. I’m still learning. I actually prefer to paint my Orcs and my Goblins in muted skin tones and I also like to do different skin tones. So I was actually trying more of a traditional GW skin tones, like the Eavy Metal painters, so a bit brighter than what I usually have going on. My Skumdrekk is a bit more of my traditional style. Both Skumdrekk and the beast are a bit more muted than the traditional GW colours. Because I like Lauren Forest, I love that as the base colour. I think Makari was just try as many things as possible and see what come off. I’ve stupidly got back into non-metallic metals and started painting the banner in non-metallic metal. The previous one I’ve done I’ve done in metallics – personally, I don’t like metallics as much. I use them for armies, but for show models and bigger pieces I like non-metallic.
The idea was to do the Scumdrekk in nonmetallic so that Makari was a lead into it. It was a chance to test a bit of silver non-metallic and a brass non-metallic. It was stupid to do Scumdrekk in non metallic and hated it – there’s all these chains on him and I was kicking myself last weekend thinking I’m not going to finish it. I did, and it looked alright – and then I went and started adding rust on it! But I’m happy with the entry. It’s been two years and it was a motivation to try it, to see if my stuff looks nice in a cabinet alongside other good painters. I think being here I can see where I can improve a lot more as a painter. You all know it – that accomplishment when you finish an army or a project is there.
GH: So was the concept of the piece something that just came immediately when you were reading the book or did it come over time?
K: For the Makari one? Yeah, as I read that moment, I knew I wanted to do him again. I wanted to do Ghaz again, but I was a bit too scared to do Non metallic metal on him. I’ve painted him before – one of my best paint jobs yet. But I only painted him a year ago – Makari was quicker. Still a lot of work on it, but much quicker. The story got in my head a bit when I was reading it, and i thought “yep, that’s what I’m going to do”. I wanted to make the base taller with more skulls, but I bottled it a bit. I’ve never really done much converting, so to try and figure out placement and that kind of thing was quite a big step for me. I’ve learned a lot doing it though, so that’s cool.
GH: While you’re working on your entry, how do you deal with Hobby Burnout?
K: To be honest that’s kind of it’s kind of tough because we all suffer it as painters. I have a day off now and then, but for every entry I had four or five things on my desk, so I was kind of bulk painting while flitting between a few things. So whenever I was doing the Scumdrekk non metallic metal, I was still doing bone and skin tones on other things. I was doing as many projects as I could it one go, so if i got tired of that piece I could move on to something else.
As well as that I was pumping things out for instagram and titkok between projects as well, so that beat the hobby burnout for me because I was always working on a few things. As a painter you’re always thinking “I could have spent more time doing this to get this”, but the skill I’ve got when I talk to other painters is when they keep working over a model, I put a model down and leave it, accepting it for what it is at that moment. That might change in the next couple of years, but I kind of reached a point now where I get to a model and I’m happy with it, and I’ll just leave it because if I don’t, I’ll just keep messing with it.
GH: When do you truly know when to stop?
K: Makari was done three weeks back, because I went really hard on the Scumdrekk piece then. I have done like a few little touch ups, but he kind of sat there for a while while I knew those touch ups needed to be done. There’s bits that I could have gone back to, but I just have to accept the fact that he’s done.
The same with the Scumdrekk last weekend, I got to a point where I know there’s so much more I could have touched up, different highlights, but I got to the point where I was scared to ruin it. I can totally understand how some painters want to go and push it to the next level, where you either overdo it or you make a mistake. At the minute, I’ve never stripped a model. Even the ones where I think they’re not very good. I have some Tau from when I first started painting and they’re not very good, but I’m proud of them because I stuck with it and finished them. Now they could be better, but I’m happy with them and I appreciate them because of the lessons I learned painting them.
GH: You need to see where you’ve come from.
GH: One of those common questions, like show us your first model. Yeah, I stripped it 50 times.
K: I wish I had the first model I painted up, I think it was a Lord of the Rings one or it might have been a 40k Space Marine bike. I wish I had that just to look back on now and see. I’m sure it’s got about three thick coats of paint on it. No eye sockets whatsoever.
GH: We’ll finish up with some general advice for others. What’s your biggest painting shortcut or cheat you use, if you have one?
K: I don’t have any and honestly, there aren’t any. In this day and age, we all live by instagram and social media. We all want to find the quickest route to solve a problem. But to get better as a painter it’s about the time you put into it. It’s the same in anything in life with anything you work on. If you’re an artist and you draw then you put the time in to get better. You put the time in to get better at your painting. If you want it to be perfect, you’ve got to put that time into it.
There is no actual shortcuts but there are little cheats you can do, like there’s certain things I’ll do with contrast paints like shades if I’m doing metallics, but the main thing to me is to take your time. If there’s something you want to try or trial, you have to take the time to learn it. I spend a lot of time watching other painters on Youtube, so I’ll go and try those things and maybe add a little twist to it. It might be changing the paint up a little bit – sometimes you look at the tutorials and they have 900 different paints and you won’t have them, so you need to go and blend up the paints. You’ve got to figure some stuff out for yourself – what worked for you?
Don’t be scared of trying different tones. I love to try and paint my units in different skin tones. If I’m doing zombies or orcs and goblins, I try to do different shades of green. That’s when I know I’m trying to find what I like the best, and I can always get different ideas.
There are no real shortcuts other than time, but there are quicker things you can do. I have never speed painted, so I’m not gonna say it can’t be done. I keep saying to myself, I want to try and speed paint but I’m just so meticulous with even the things that don’t go well. I try. I just get lost in painting. Basecoating can take me ridiculously longer than it needs to, because I love glazing at the minute – it’s my favourite thing at the moment, but it takes twice as long sometimes.
I think as you go along and paint, you figure things out that you like and you get quicker anyway. Non metallic metal has become a big thing for me, and now I’m getting quicker at it. I’m noticing places I can maybe add a little shadow, or a highlight. It’s all just time and working things out, I’ve still got a lot to get better. If you take your time and just focus on one thing you start to get the results you want to see.
GH: What technique do you wish that you learned when you were starting out, something you wish you knew sooner?
K: That’s kind of tough, because I’m still always learning. I still want to improve metallics. I do glaze them, I just find I never get the happy medium that I want with them at the minute. I’ll use them for my squads and my armies. If I don’t, it will take three hours to paint one model or something and I’ve got a pile of shame that keeps growing!
GH: Now that you’ve made it, what advice would you give to other people who are thinking about coming to Golden Demon?
K: Do it, Just do it. I’m one of those people: if I do something, I’m going to do it. But then I’m also one of those people that if I procrastinate, I won’t do something. I have quite a decent following on social media, but it’s not a true perspective on the level you’re at so I wanted to test that. I also knew I wanted to meet other painters, because we lost that in lockdown, so meeting people and being able to do so while I’m still fairly new to the hobby is really great.
It’s great meeting people you admire here, like Mike McVey – I love the dioramas, especially the old Warhammer stuff because I’m from that era – Darren Latham – I was talking to him yesterday. To meet these people in real life rather than online, that was a big plus.
So if you want to enter a competition, no matter where you think you are as a painter, if you’re happy with that entry, just go for it because it’s the experience of doing it that’s really great. That’s always going to make you feel better, and it gives you the motivation to go home and paint again.
GH: A question for people entering for the first time: do you suffer from imposter syndrome?
K: Working in social media and coming from a freestyle background, I’ve have had to suffer with imposter syndrome, and being a dad as well – Its been a common thing. I kind of learned to get over it, but I would always still say it is a weakness of mine. Even now, you look at other models and think “wow that’s way better than mine!” and “why have I entered mine?”. That niggle in the back of your head is always going to be there, but I imagine it’s the same for even the top level model painters. I think everyone has imposter syndrome, it’s more prevalent and we know more about it these day, than we did when we were younger. Some of us, I know I am, are from an old school mentality – don’t talk about your feelings, get over it. It’s great that it’s so much easier to talk about your feelings now.
GH: Lastly, where can people find more about more of your work online and follow.
K: Yeah, I’m on everything as Kiesminis. Sometimes it’s got underscoring the middle! I’m on instagram as @kies_minis and on twitter as @kiesminis
GH: Thank you so much for talking to us.
K: It’s a pleasure!