I had a conversation with another sculptor the other day regarding another of those curious phenomena that I am so drawn to writing about. In this case it is all about the styles in which we are sculpting these days and the pressure to sculpt in a certain way.
It's no secret that minis are becoming more detailed, scarily so in some cases. The point put to me and something that I have thought myself in a round about way in the past is that we're no longer sculpting for the person to see in reality and that we are now sculpting figures to look good in photographs (usually shown many times larger than the figure itself).
This is perhaps not surprising as very few companies out there are selling their figures to people who will make their decision whether to buy or not based upon looking at the figure itself in reality. No, in this internet age, we are shopping via photos on computer screens and probably looking at a pic that is 500 or even up to 1000 pixels high. The problem with this is that it's a totally different ballgame for a sculptor to make a figure that looks good under such circumstances and it's not uncommon to find that you get the figure and the figure that the sculptor has probably sacrificed his sanity and eyesight to sculpt is not an easy paintjob because it's so finely worked. Such figures are of course incredibly impressive and, as a sculptor, I am constantly blown away by such things but, as a painter, I still gravitate towards a bolder style of sculpture that looks good at 30 odd mm tall but might look a little clumsy/strange when blown up to five times it's actual size. I think the key there is not to show it quite so large. Zoomed in is one thing but there are limits (I try to make my mini pics on the small side but large enough to see the detail).
I do sometimes worry about how many sculptors are going to burn themselves out (or just strain their eyes beyond repair) to live up to the demands of detail and giant pictures. This pressure is there. I've ended up suddenly sculpting in a much more detailed style now and it does worry me a tad. My figures are being very well received but I'm very aware of just how much time I spend under an optivisor these days...