MV Interview - Jürgen "Crackpot" Wagner

by Peter aka Baphomet


most of you will know Jürgen aka Crackpot and his amazing dioramas. I had the chance to do a nice interview with him and I hope you´ll all enjoy it as much as I have :-)

Jürgen "Crackpot" Wagner

MV: Hey Jürgen, nice to have you here. As some of our readers will know, you are a long-time hobbist and well known painter. With your nickname “Crackpot” you´re showing a lot of beautiful painted miniatures to the community. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Jürgen: Thanks for having me. It’s really an honour to introduce myself to the many MassiveVoodo Blog readers. Well my name is Jürgen (37), I was born in Austria but grew up in Germany and currently live in a small town near Cologne. I am married, soon to be dad, have two cats and work as a software developer, so I guess I couldn’t be more average. :D 
Painting and building dioramas is really my main hobby so far. I think it’s safe to say that I am more of an introvert, don’t get me wrong I love to go to big miniature events and meet up with all the other enthusiasts but aside from this I prefer the solitude of my working room at night. I think this is one part why I love this hobby so much, it really recharges my inner battery. 

It’s quite difficult to say when I really started painting. When you mean “smudge some thick colours on a bunch of poor plastic miniatures” I would assume it must have been in 1999 when I bought my first Games-Workshop “Warhammer 40K Starter Box”. When you mean “paint a single miniature with a rudimental knowledge of how to apply a base colour” it would be around 2006.

Jürgen´s latest diorama: Dead or Alive

MV: It´s always intersting to hear the legends of how somebody got into the hobby. So please tell us your tale of the brush
Jürgen: Well as stated above I think it all started with Games-Workshop as my gateway drug. As a child I was hooked on “HeroQuest” und “StarQuest”, I loved the games and especially the tiny plastic miniatures. It was like “Barbie” for boys. :)
When I was older I found out that there are miniature games similar to these games of my childhood, nostalgia kicked in and I bought the starter box of Warhammer 40K and shortly after that the starter box of Warhammer Fantasy. And since then I went deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole… 

I think it were Rackham and Freebooter Miniatures that brought me to concentrate more on single miniatures. I discovered them on a gaming trade fair and was amazed how much more details a miniature can have compared to a simple plastic Space Marine. It was also the time when I got in contact with the first pro-painters like “Pinselknecht” and “Brushguy” and I learned a lot from them!

MV: You are well-known for your smooth-blended miniatures. Especially your dioramas always have a deep impact on the community. What´s your philosophy of painting? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Jürgen: Wow, difficult question. I don’t know if I have a philosophy regarding painting. Maybe you could say I am a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes I really trail away on a tiny detail like a small purse or a belt buckle. You could say this isn’t very efficient, because nobody will see a big difference on a small purse that is painted in 10 minutes or 2 hours, but efficiency is not my point. It must feel RIGHT for me and if I need one hour more to paint this small purse, just so it feels right for me, then I will do it. Maybe that’s the point when others say my miniatures always look very clean, or like you said “smooth-blended” it’s just I like to pay attention to details.
As for the inspiration I think inspiration can be everything and everywhere. I don’t have one source of inspiration. It can be painters, movies, video games, books or just a photo. As for my last project “Dead or Alive” I browsed through photos from my last holiday in Scotland with my wife and I was so fascinated by some pictures we took of an old forest that I suddenly wanted to make a forest diorama. Sometimes inspiration hits you when you least expect it.


MV: You have your own website, And some months ago you relaunched the website with a new design. What´s the idea behind

Jürgen: You know I am just a hobby painter and for a hobby painter time can be a bit tricky to manage, I think everyone will agree on this. You have your family, your job, the daily rush-hour traffic, some sport or other hobbies and then your day is already over. I have the same problem but I really try to integrate our hobby at least for half an hour to an hour every day. Most of the time it works, sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes I have multiple hours for the hobby. So the idea behind the title of my page was: At least spend an “hour with your brush”.
As for the page, it’s nothing fancy. I just wanted an independent platform for my pictures, tutorials and contact informations. At first the idea was to create a blog like many other painters, but I think a blog is only interesting as long as you update it on a regular basis like here at Massive Voodoo. I knew I wouldn’t manage to keep a blog alive long enough so I decided to just publish a small simple website with my latest projects and otherwise publish some current WIPs or events on facebook or message boards.

MV: What was you greatest success in you hobby-life and why?

Jürgen: I think my biggest personal success was when I finished my “Hammam/Turkish Bath” diorama in 2011. I tried many new things in this project like the printed tiles, the multiple rounded and curved wall segments, the marble effect or the clear water effect. Many of these techniques required me to test them first and so this project took way longer than I expected. But I struggled through and was very satisfied with the result. At this point I knew if I got through such a project I could build virtually anything. It really boosted my self-confidence at a rather difficult time because I thought I had reached kind of a plateau.


MV: At the moment there are a lot of miniature-companies. Which is your favourite one?

Jürgen: I have to admit I am not very up to date with the current market situation. Damn, I still have a big box of Rackham miniatures I still want to paint. :D At the moment I really like the Red-Box-Games miniature range. They are very detailed and rather tiny compared to other companys. But I am also looking forward to buy some new Infinity miniatures when I have time, I just love their stile of sci-fi.
MV: Legends and storys tell us about your fear of using metallic colors. Allegedly you totally clean your table after using them. What has happened that you are so careful?

Jürgen: Who told you this? I will find the traitor! I don’t know why exactly but I think I have some kind of metallic-phobia. Maybe because I am still not very good with metallics. But I think mainly because when I started painting I was very sloppy with my paints and so I often painted right out of the pot and didn’t clean my brushes properly. So when you took a closer look at my fist “Smurf-Space-Marines” they often had some metallic pigments in the blue armor.
By now I would hate to get just one metallic pigment on one of my miniatures so when I paint with metallics I change everything after that: The two water glasses, the palett, the brushes. I even have separate brushes for normal colors and for metallic colors. Ok, sounds a bit radical I admit that. ;)


MV: Beside brushes, minis and colors, what is the most important thing on your table?
Jürgen: I think it’s my glasses and my colour-wheel. I usually need no glasses but I bought a pair of reading glasses so my old eyes don’t overlook some details and they help me very much. I know I look ridiculous with them but as long only my wife has a good laugh it’s OK for me. ;) And I often use the colour-wheel just to compare some paints with it so I don’t accidentally use the wrong colours. I am red-green colour blind so I often have to be extra sure to use the right colours. Thank god my wife helps me often enough with this. :D

MV: Do you have a picture of your table?

Jürgen: Sure, but it’s nothing fancy.

MV: Some short questions: Are there any painters you admire? 

Jürgen: As for “normal” painters I would say Frank Frazetta. His oil paintings are really inspiring.
As for miniature painters there are just too many. I love the clean freehands of Derwish, the cool sceneries of Matt Cexwish or Picster, the cool busts of Pepa and many more.

MV: Do you lick brushes? 

Jürgen: Sometimes. I learned it the hard way to stop brush licking while using special paints. DON’T TASTE DUNCAN PAINTS! ;)

MV: Favourite breakfast? 

Jürgen: Sounds strange but since my first trip to Scotland I just fell in LOVE with porridge. 


MV: Favourite song? 

MV: Favourite film? 

Jürgen: The Godfather 1 

MV: Favourite color? 

Jürgen: Purple.

MV: What is your favourite miniature so far? 

Jürgen: Very difficult. I would say the “Barbarian Dude”, because I knew I had to buy it just as I saw it online and it was pure fun to paint.


MV:  Last question: please tell us which would be the greatest development in our hobby?

Jürgen: I think the competition idea in our hobby is getting a bit out of hand. It would be great if the hobby would concentrate more on the fun of painting and to act out ones imagination than just on the next competition. In my perception there is often a compulsive ambition to be better than the others and to win competition after competition. But our hobby is no sport, the performance is not very measurable and I think many loose the fun and relaxation on the long run. How often do I read threats that complain about a lack of motivation and questions how to overcome this crisis? Why do these people think they have to press on? I think because they are afraid to fall behind and are no longer able to “compete”. It really makes me sad if people have this mindset because I think that’s not the idea behind our hobby. You shouldn’t need advice how to get motivated if you already have fun what you are doing. I had my ups and downs with the hobby and I will have my ups and downs in the future, but when I am not in the mood or I lack the right ideas or inspiration I just take a break. I even had a nearly 2 yearlong break, so what?
Don’t get me wrong, everyone wants to improve and that’s great but YOU should be your own hardest competitor, not the others.

So to come back to your initial question, I would say the greatest development would be if we would stop comparing our work with others constantly, be more relaxed and stop taking our hobby too seriously. After all we are just painting some tin soldiers. ;)

And I like Romans phrase: Keep on HAPPY painting!



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