I’m fascinated by our desks, and how we view them and treat them. These areas where we have spent so much of our lives painting, modelling, dreaming and doing what we love. Again and again we return to them, to labour away at our toy soldiers and it is at these alters where we first see the finished products of our efforts. Whether you’re still learning the craft, or painting to win global competitions, we still all have these places where we paint and though the completed miniature may be the prize, like the stadiums of sports teams, or the legendary recording studios where your favourite bands have recorded your favourite albums, these desks, for us, have a status all of their own.
That’s what I want to show to you here. I’ve asked members of our community to contribute words and pictures detailing their desks and I’ll let them do the talking. There’s plenty to see here, so make yourself a drink, get comfortable, and explore the desks, painting tables and work stations from around the world.
“The desk is a nice big Corner L shape sturdy office desk. Originally it was just a single desk but I picked up the corner piece second hand from an office clearance. I can move my computer to the right and free up space for my airbrush compressor set up. One of my favourite things in this space is my signed Warhammer World programme by Jes Goodwin and Phil Kelly. Less said about my transforming robot addiction the better I think.”
– Garfy (London, UK) from Tale Of Painters
“This is my current workspace as of 2017. I love it because it reminds me of my history with the hobby. I’m an artist and currently working for MiniWarGaming.com as their Vault painter. I’ve been in this hobby since 1988 when I was a 13 year old lad. When I was young I could draw, paint and create. As I grew up I became interested in movies (Aliens being one of my all time faves) and that heavily influenced my imagination. Then came SpaceHulk and I was hooked into this hobby. Before that I built model ships and cars then came Star Trek spaceships. But nothing quite sank its hooks into me like SpaceHulk. I absorbed every nugget of information I could about miniature painting (pre internet) and painted as much as I could. And that’s what my desk reflects. There have been breaks from the hobby as with most people but it was always there in the background. One bit of painting advice; keep all your old paint jobs. Why? Cuz you can’t tell where you need to go until you know where you’ve been.”
– Kris (Welland, Canada) from MiniWarGaming.com
“On the left live most of my paints and my airbrush. I also keep a bottle of filtered water around because we live in a very hard water area which isn’t great for the airbrush. Along the back we have an ultrasonic cleaner for stripping models and cleaning the airbrush. The yellow-lidded pots contain various work-in-progress models and some spare parts. Most of my bitz are in three large plastic containers out of the way. On the right are my brushes and wet palette with the pink lid. I could do with more space, but let’s be honest – I’d only fill it! The light was a magnifying hobby lamp my Grandma gave me as she had it sitting around. The bulb in it got so hot it dried the paint in seconds! Found the LED strip light in Lidl for a fiver and just screwed it to it. I rarely use the magnifier but it’s fab lighting.”
– Dan (Herefordshire, UK) from Ritual Miniatures
“Here is my desk. It is shared with my daughter as our ‘art projects’ desk. My mini painting kit has always been mobile. My Vallejo travel set always comes in the car, and old board game boxes make great storage for fiddly stuff.”
– Nathan (Blue Mountains, Australia)
“I don’t do ‘hobby’. Rather, it’s more a way of life and so painting miniatures doesn’t really feel like just a hobby. My desk moves around a bit – usually with the seasons. Here you see it in all its glory in my attic. I try (and often fail) to keep only the things I need most on the desk. Materials, paints or tools I need less often I try and pack away to save space. For the essentials that remain I use a lot of stacking storage to make sure they’re accessible and in easy reach. Often these shelves are repurposed things that were boxes or racks in their previous lives. The object I value most is the ancient bread board that acts as my cutting mat. I’ve had it for many years and it carries the scars to prove it. No longer really flat due to the amount of greenstuff and paint that has accreted on it, it’s pretty ropey as a surface now. But I can’t bear to give it up. I’ve also collected a few useful things like chopstick stands and tiny dishes which are great for brush care and sorting out loose components.”
– Tammy (Nottingham, UK) from Tears of Envy
“Here’s half of my Bunker. It’s a high top stainless steel finish that forces me to pay attention to my posture, cleans up easy with plenty of storage on both sides. It also matches my airbrush table against the far wall and adds to the theme that I’m still working on for the over all room.”
– Derek (Cumming, USA) from Throne Of Angels
“One of the things I love about my hobby space is the view – I can stare for hours out the window at the open country side. Very relaxing. The area itself is a 2m wide bit of kitchen work surface, which doubles as my home office as well. If the daylight isn’t enough I have installed a pair of LED flood lights which have a colour temp of 6500K meaning its in the daylight range so I get good light all year/day long. It cost me £100 approx to build using either scavenged or special offer purchases. The work surface was got from a supplier for about £20 as the corner was damaged, and the wood it sits on was gotten from a neighbour who was renovating his house for free. The lights were a manager’s special at Screwfix (£15 for the pair), and the paint racks cost £8. £40 for some shelves I have about the room, the rest of the storage comes from some old ikea dvd racks turned on their side.”
– Tim (Bristol, UK) from chubbs.co.uk
“My little hobby room. I’m a graphic artist and business owner by day, a husband and father. And while I love being all these things, I look forward each evening after the kids are in bed, so that I can escape into this room to build and paint for a few hours. It’s my stress relief and another creative outlet. The whole room is designed so that everything is within easy reach of my build/paint area and my airbrush booth. While not a huge room, I tried to make good use of the wall space with shelving and acrylic paint racks.”
– Bob (Philadelphia, USA)
“This is my hobby desk. After years of painting with a tray on my lap I decided to invest in getting a suitable place for me to paint! Very basic desk from Ikea and two daylight lamps from eBay for nice lighting. The transition from getting my desk has been remarkable, helping me focus and be comfortable for a much longer period of time (also giving my neck and back a break). It’s still fairly new and needs breaking in but it has most defiantly been a game changer and I love it dearly.”
– Louise (London, UK) from @Lou_lous_minis
“My desk is an ugly relic. It was in the house of my grandfather, my father studied on it, and I did too when I was younger. I picked it up to give it a second life. I wanted the desk as functional as possible, but not too expensive though (the hobby, in itself, is enough). So, I often used recovered materials among other things and, for instance, I have built the painting stands myself. I like to finish my day with a painting session. I sit on my desk, start my computer, put on an historical/scientific/fictional documentary (depending on my mood) on youtube or listen to nordic/pagan music, and free my mind of the daily business.”
– Bruno (Péruwelz, Belgium)
“The main thing that you might notice at first about my hobby desk is that it isn’t really a desk. It’s a small and modest table; close to the floor and filled to the brim with all my paints, tools and miniatures. I have always been most comfortable sitting on the floor since being a kid, and for me my hobby time is when I can unwind and relax in my most natural of environments. I like to sit on the floor and just paint away under my pelican shaped lamp; surrounded by all my favorite hobby gear and bric a brac. I do actually have a dedicated hobby room with chair and big desk and all the professional bits… But I always find myself naturally ending up back on the floor, curled up next to my little hobby-coffee table and painting goblins to my hearts content. For me, hobby is the most homely and comforting time, and my hobby space reflects that.”
– Louise (Nottingham, UK) from Savage Ork Guy
“A temporary folding table was set up couple of years ago in the living room on occasion for board gaming. When The War Room got completed, it got overrun with paints as a temporary paint station. It then became a permanent thing, since it’s much nicer to paint with my computer only a meter away and the TV in the room, so I’m not isolated when doing hobby-related activities. I use the gaming table in The War Room (cleared) for large scenery projects, or sometimes I even sit outside on a folding chair next to my spray area.”
“Since writing an article about painting and depression, and having a small patch of my life that I could organise as a blank slate, it’s developed into a bit of an obsession. When I’m brushing the last little pieces of sprue into the bin and I stand back and look at my little work area, it immediately feels like any idea is possible. You know those pictures by Vermeer of some lass looking out of a window all thinking about poetry and everything is there for them to write some flippin’ poetry and the light is just right – it feels like that. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love everything about it. The fact that it’s black is not because its had a lot of black paint, but because its had thousands of colours, splattered, spilt, sprayed and brushed into it. My dog frequently visits me and carefully gives me a toy when I’m painting, so as not to jog me, and as soon as I stop he leaps at my knees. I’ve sat at that desk for months and it’s as important as any tool or model I own.”
“This is mine right now… It’s always like this mid project and then, once it’s done, I make it all beautifully tidy until I start the next project. I wish I could work tidily but nope, I need the chaos – it echoes my mind as I frantically try to complete a piece!”
– Arla (Glasgow, UK)
“My painting table is damn heavy. I have dragged it from house to house, cursing it every time we move. When I sit at the table the world becomes ‘narrow’. All I think about is what is in front of me, and breathing. On it is the first miniature I ever painted, the first miniature I ever commissioned (mostly by accident!), one too many projects being painted all at once, and a toy that I am repairing for my daughter. The high performance bug spray is for the redback spiders (latrodectus hasselti). I leave the other spiders alone, because they keep the redback numbers down, but every now and then one of the blighters gets past and camps under the table.”
“This is my working place. It is as some people are saying, my man cave! This desk gives me calmness, creativity, ideas, hope, and fun. That’s why I love my “cave”. I used to have a shed outside my house where I had around 4.7 meters of working space. It became too big. After I got sick a year ago and could not work anymore, I moved into the house. I am a figure painter, and this is as much space as I need for the remainder of my life.”
“My hobby desk resides in my Man Cave – a shed in the garden. Around three years ago the hobby was beginning to impact on family life with all my hobby ephemera cluttering up our back room. My darling wife made it clear a change was needed and the Man Cave was the solution. Over the next 12 months I looked at all my options and then a shed was purchased, built, insulated, boarded out, electrified and I set about re-locating my desk to the shed. My nightly routine is to go into the shed around 10pm paint for an hour and a half, then I turn the main light off and have a little light on in preparation for going to sleep around midnight. That period of reflection and ‘pottering’ is vital, otherwise I just wouldn’t fall asleep. I’m incredibly lucky to have this space and this has definitely had a positive effect on family life – removing the untidiness from the house and formalising my hobby time was something I was loathe to do, but now really appreciate.”
“My desk! I love it because it is where I sit and work gets done. It’s hobby progress. It is a motivator to continue. I could use some more gadgets and gizmos though :). This is an Ikea desk, probably not the most ideal but it was cheap and works well. The paint station and wrack are from HobbyZone in Poland (lovely stuff but expensive to ship to Canada).”
“I love my little rolling desk station I’ve created. I bought a small glass and steel computer desk with a pull out keyboard shelf I have turned into a portable painting station. It’s awesome to watch my favorite movies to get the creative juice flowing as I plot and paint minis. I keep my paints in a small tray with magnetic fasteners and turntables. It’s not as pretty as other work stations people have, but it suits me when I watch my favorite movies and whether I’m sitting at it with my mini stool or my couch. I have mine cleared of all my supplies right now because I’m going to a painting alliance convention in a few days but you can see the glass top and I love it. This is usually the neatest it looks.”
– Joseph (Colorado, USA)
“At the moment, looking at my desk frustrates me. Only because I have so many unfinished projects and it can feel overwhelming. I’ve got about 40+ models to be built and painted. But when I want inspiration I can look at the work that I have completed and draw inspiration from that. I would call myself a display painter over an army painter, so I’m always trying to improve my skills. I’m not at the level I would like to be but I only started painting again about 6 months ago and I know I just need to practice, practice, practice. My desk is also my connection to the world – through my laptop which helps me find tips and tutorials to learn from.”
– Michael (Brisbane, Australia)
“Two years ago my Aunt died and I inherited the house I live in, but as I have no family left in Oklahoma I decided to flip the house and sell it to go back to Seattle where my family is and where there are better jobs. So the whole house is a construction area except my bedroom where the painting area is. Once I get to Seattle I’ll build a new table with all the stuff I’ve bought from Hobbyzone and Back 2 Base IX. Right now it’s basically a TV tray with a leftover piece of the kitchen countertop on it with a Arch Light I made from left over pieces of PVC door trim and LED lights from under the cupboards. When I sit down to paint I feel very relaxed and at ease – it’s the one thing I feel I have control over so I had to make a temporary painting area. It’s the perfect example of ‘When you love to paint and model, you’ll find a way to make it happen’.”
– Rayvn (Sasakwa, USA)
“It’s special because it’s the first piece of furniture me and my girlfriend bought together. It was the first space I set up in our home. She crafts actual crafty crafts and respects my ability to paint and model. We are expecting our first child in February. My desk is also in my living room, so when I do work at it, I don’t have to be away from her. Ive built two entire Age of Sigmar armies (Stormcast and Flesh Eater Courts), and 40 or 50 models for 40k. I build and paint anything I think is cool. I just like to model mainly. I’ve loved it ever since I was old enough to paint. I am 35 now and hope to pass some this along to my son one day.”
– Brad (Kingsport, USA)
“Mine’s not so much a desk as a whole shed. It’s my own little man cave. I started out on the kitchen table until my wife got sick of it, and so I ended up running power down to the shed. Just recently I have completely redone the desk – building my new one from scratch. My shed is my escape from everyday life, and when I’m in there I can just relax, not have to think about work or anything apart from my hobby. It’s also a place I can spend some time painting with my son (giving him a bit of peace and quiet away from his little sister). Having recently rebuilt the desk, I’ve got a bit more space for this very reason as it was getting a bit cramped when we were both in there.”
– Richard (Matlock, UK)
“I spend a lot of time here. I’m a full-time online student studying electrical engineering, and self-employed videographer. What free time I have I usually give to my family, but occasionally I’ll find a few minutes for myself. Of all places to escape to, this is where I choose to go! I turn on some music, or have Netflix running in the background while I let my mind escape with a brush in my hand, and a wet palette by my side. I don’t get to paint often, as you can tell by the nice layer of dust on the shelf, so thanks to Reaper’s Bones Kickstarters I can look forward to years of painting.”
– James (Albuquerque, USA)
A huge thank you to everyone has contributed to this work – it truly couldn’t have been done without you all. Onwards!
All the images and words on this page belong to the artists themselves and are used here with their permission. Well, pretty much. They knew what they were getting into.
Awesome stuff, so many amazing workspaces, and some very illustrious readers garfy and MWG Kris to name but a few…
In shameless self promotion I wrote an article on my DIY paint racks on beastsofwar.com http://www.beastsofwar.com/hobby-blag/diy-paint-rack/ so for anyone struggling with paint storage and budget have a look at how you can store 160+ paints for under £10 🙂
Love those desks, very jealous of having an area like that. Once again I see confusing images of people using airbrushes inside, seemingly without ventilation.
Awesome work! Glad to see so many. Pretty chuffed to see my own desk with Kris from MWG as well! I recognized his desk before I even read the story haha.
I love the hobby sheds some of you have. Those look lovely!
Fun seeing how and where all the painter hobbyists work!