Which brings us to college...
And this is a much longer story, but I'm gonna cut to the part where I was working in a used book store in charge of the comic books. It was rather like a dream job at the time. Heck, it's still kind of a dream job. The owner of the place bought things, frequently, on whims, which was the state of things when I started working for him. For whatever reason, he had miniature sets kind of all over the place, but, mostly, he had Grenadier's Dragon of the Month kits.
Now, he'd had these sets lying around for, well, years, actually and never sold a single one, which is I why he gave me the job of being in charge of the comics and everything that went along with them, because, as evidenced, he was no good at deciding what to stock. But that's beside the point. Because he's had them lying around for years, I said, "Hey, why don't you let me paint a couple of these, and we'll put them on display and see if they sell." What the heck, right?
Just a note: I was still using oils, but oils had these great metallics that you couldn't get in acrylics at the time. Games Workshop rectified that sometime or other and, eventually, other companies followed with some excellent (acrylic) paints. [Just a personal note to any of you out there involved in this stuff: Games Workshop has what are probably the highest quality miniatures on the market if you're using them for gaming. They lack diversity, though, because their minis support their games. However, I don't much care for their paints. They tend to dry too glossy for my tastes.]
So here's how this worked:
These dragon kits sold for $10.00. They were lead, and they were heavy. He paid me $5.00 each to paint a few of them, and he put them up in display case (with the expensive comics) for $20.00 each. Remember, he'd been collecting these up for years and had never sold a single one (I think he had something like 3 dozen dragons. I know! He couldn't tell me why he'd kept buying them, either, but there it was). As soon as he started putting them in the case, people started buying them. I literally could not paint them quickly enough. People started coming in just looking for the dragons. Even after he marked them up to $30.00. No, I didn't get a raise in how much I was being paid to paint them.
I still have one of them, though.
I do, now, have a large collection of (unpainted) dragons. Unpainted, because I've never had anywhere to display them if I did paint them, and they're easier to store in their disassembled states. One day, though...
In a lot of ways, this was like working for a publisher. I did the work, and he made the money. Sure, I got paid a decent amount for doing the painting, I suppose, and I got the enjoyment of doing the painting, but he made four times off of each figure what I did, and that was when he was selling them for $30.00, because there were certain of the dragons, like the Gold Dragon
It's too bad miniatures cost so much these days, or I might consider going back into dragon painting. However, your general dragon miniature starts at around $25.00 these days, and the nice ones (the ones that are more along the scale of the Grenadier dragons) are much higher (like this one from Games Workshop that's more than $50.00).
Next: how I spent years painting a Confederate army and how I came to hate the color grey.
Oh, and, just in case anyone is interested, that Green Dragon is still for sale. heh