A little while back I detailed my top 3 sculptors in the world. Well, I've had quite a lot of comment about my choices either on the blog or directly. Nobody has been suggesting that anyone on the list is unworthy but there's one comment that came in a lot: What about Jes Goodwin?
I answered this in my post regarding other sculptors that I admire but felt that this was a good area to expand upon as Jes's place in my favourite sculptors list is a rather different kettle of fish to all the others.
The main upshot is this; my first thought when I hear the name Jes Goodwin is not of his miniatures sculpts but I immediately flash onto his concept art. Jes sculpts supremely well as we all know but, you know what, I think he draws miniatures at least as well as he sculpts them, maybe even more-so. I'm not sure it's possible to overstate the impact Jes's design work has had on the miniatures industry and it's as much in the design as in the execution.
I have Jes's artbook, The Gothic and the Eldritch. It's a fascinating book showing off the incredible work he has produced over the years and perfectly illustrates the level of detail and thought that goes into his work.
The new Dark Eldar range is a monument to forethought in a miniatures range. You can tell that this was not a 'dive in and sculpt' project and that there was a lot more to it than designing the look. The design process asks not just what something looks like but why it does and how it works. Then there's striking the balance of reality and looking good. Your average Space Marine throws accurate human anatomy out of the window but looks great despite this. In Jes's work the balance is always there and there's never the feeling of 'screw it, that'll do'.
So, designer before sculptor. Yes, Jes is a superb sculptor but my consideration is in a wider capacity. A thought occurred to me after my top sculptor posts. What about a different criteria. What if you take the sculptor and force them to produce in a creative vacuum so to speak. I mean you lock them away with no outside influences. No concepts feeding them. Nobody else's ideas. Just the sculptor in a room with the brief 'make great miniatures'. So, who would be the best in the world then?
To me that's an easier question to answer.