Looks like I'm down to a once a week post schedule... unless you count my work over at HoP. This is another part of my ongoing thought experiment/exploration about the state of miniature painting. This one is based on some comments I got and a whole bunch of ideas put forth on other people's blogs. It should prove to be short since I don't have a clever story to start out with. With any luck this will be coherent on top of short...
Today's subtopic is the internet. Or, to be more specific, the internet's role in creating the current state of my painting weltschmerz. This was always going to be a part of the discussion, but it wasn't until the MM(ESNO) threw down some science that things really popped. I now know a lot more about how to approach the topic and that it needs its own space to breath.
My initial thoughts on the internet's role was fairly negative and a bit reactionary- it was more along the lines of how access to ideas tends to flatten the peaks and valleys out. More like what Dethtron or, more recently, AbusePuppy were getting at - only grumpier and one-sided. But, now, things are a little less nefarious and dastardly than I had initially planned on lamenting about. I also realized that I was coming dangerously close to becoming a slave to the tone of the first two posts - its important to me to explore these ideas, but I need to make sure that I don't get trapped in an artificially created pattern of though.
So instead of simply bitching about some cold, unfeeling system, I'd like to explore what's going on in a much more positive and fair light.
Don't get me wrong, I think the internet is doing more than its fair share to flatten things out - and by that I mean homogenizing the world - but its simply the natural consequence of the free flow of ideas and (which is something China is scared shitless of). Its not some kind of calculated travesty.
There's also this component of an increased population that MM(ESNO) brought up. The more people you have working on the same problem, the quicker it'll get done or the more likely the results will look similar. Right now, there are a ton more people involved in this kind of hobby. Its basic probability and the two ideas play into each other and come to a fantastic intersection when you take into account the incredible magnanimity of miniature painters of all skill levels. We love to share and will happily do so if asked. Hell, we freely share our 'secrets' without anyone asking. From the slayer sword winners all the way down to the noobs.
In any case, consumers are going to devour that shit (coprophagia style - om nom nom). Gross.
This brings up the other big drivers for the prevalence of the Golden Daemon 'style'. There's not yet a critical mass of information out there about an incredibly specialized subset of an already tiny population. ANYTHING that has some quality production values and a good level of exposure is gonna be taken seriously (and the canny painters have realized that there's money to be made). Especially if the person presenting the info is seen as an expert on any level. I.E.: they have a pedigree backed up by prestigious contest wins. And guess what? They're gonna teach what they know - which is often the Golden Daemon style.
In a lot of ways, its a nice little recursive cycle. New painters start up - they get instruction on a particular style and then they go on to excel at that style and then offer their own instruction. But the thing is, that this cycle is not self driving. People are the ones who keep this cycle going. And why shouldn't they? The Golden Daemon 'style' produces some amazing results and people like it. Good ideas take root.
So while the internet has done wonders for people's skill levels through education and been able to reach extremely deeply into the wargaming demographic, it has also done what better access to information has always done - spread it around. The internet is, essentially, a red herring in all of this. It's not guilty of anything other than existing. But its important to understand that it does have a role in all this.
I know I've stated this before - but to be absolutely clear - I have no beef with the people who pursue this style or even with the style itself. If it's your cup o' tea then fine - I've had my fair share of it as well. My beef is with the perception that its the 'best' or even 'only' way to do things. In many situations it is, but in an equal number of ways it is certainly not. Unfortunately, I had begun to assume the former.