Interview with Michael Rinaldi

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Moson show is one of the biggest modeling events in Europe, with modelers all over the world coming to display their work and compete with the best of the best. Besides the competition and shopping, Moson show offers seminars and demos in which world-class modelers offer a glimpse into the techniques they use to create their scale model masterpieces.

This year Moson show hosted Michael Rinaldi, one of the most talented artists in the hobby, the man behind Rinaldi Studio Press and the very popular TankArt and SM series of books. Mike gave two seminars during the show, demonstrating and explaining the different weathering techniques, but also sharing some of his modeling philosophy. After a very inspiring demo session, I had an opportunity to talk to Mike and do a short interview with him for Armorama.

Mike, it is good to see you back in Europe. What was the last time you were here?

Thank you, Mario, it was awesome to be back in Europe. My last visit was the Drammen IPMS Norway show in 2014. Time flies!

How do you like it in Moson? Did you have the time to see the exhibition and check the vendor area?

Over the past few years Moson has risen in prominence as one of Europeís best scale model shows. I meant to attend in 2016 and things didnít quite work out for me to make it over, and attending this year just made the anticipation that much greater. What a show! Literally packed with models, people and vendors. I was lucky to have Saturday morning to myself and I toured the contest tables and see the vendor building (across the street). Mosonís reputation is well deserved.


After seeing the models in the exhibition room, do you feel there is a difference between modeling in US and Europe?

This is a very common question that I get asked, largely because when I do visit overseas, I am one of the few American modelers present. In truth, yes, there are some differences both culturally in how Europe sees the scale model hobby and what their vision of it is. In the US, it is well known we have quite a few distractions of various kinds such as our love of sports, movies, and the like, which is also countered by Europe rich history with conflicts over time. European modelers grow up immersed in the stories and lessons of their varied history. This creates a different atmosphere between the two main regions. From my perspective, if there is one aspect that stands out is that European modelers are much more of the story telling folk, versus building the perfect model. Therefore, finishes take on more significance and as a result styles, chemical products, and techniques revolving around painting and weathering are on another level than what we see at American shows. Finishes are also judged with much more weight versus US shows.

The other major difference is the variety in cultures present at the large European shows, you see the Italians, the Germans, French, Spanish, Dutch, Belgians, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, and so on, oh -- and of course the ScandinaviansÖit makes for a much different atmosphere both on the tables and later with the social aspects. Thankfully most modelers speak English and I can communicate well with them, and seeing how they look at the hobby is a totally different experience to a pure American show.


You gave two demos during the Moson show, what was it like? How was the feedback from the audience?

I did, and because I missed last yearís show, I felt obligated to provide as much seminar experience for the modelers as I possibly could. I broke my seminars down into AFV modeling on Saturday afternoon, and then Civilian/Sci-fi modeling for Sunday morningís seminar. I hadnít given a demo in over 2 years, so there was some definite rust to knock off when sitting in front a crowd talking about the processes, but once I was in my groove things went very smooth. I am a chatty fella and they both went past their allotted time because I often had more to talk about. I believe firmly in the discussion, the philosophy, the reasons behind what I doÖ and therefore that requires as much verbal communication as the physical show & tell aspects of a seminar. From what I could tell, the rooms were packed full and guys were keen to see what I had to say and show. Then again, I might have bored everyone to sleep!


You started your own company, Rinaldi Studio Press, couple of years ago. How did this happen?

After years of being a contributor to the various armor modeling magazines, I had an opportunity in 2012 to start my own line of books that would be a much better platform for me to express the work, and educate others in the various processes, techniques and ideas about scale modeling. It proved a smart move, one because the magazine work is restrictive by the nature of the format and two it freed me to use my other skills in graphic design, branding, and photography to their fullest advantage. My background is in design and melding the two main disciplines allowed me to create an entirely new style of publication for the hobby.

What are pros and cons of a hobby becoming a ďrealĒ job?

Haha, this is one of those comments where many guys say I am lucky. In some ways, yes, this is true to be able to build models as a full-time career. My love for the hobby, the passion, it is still strong and being around during what has become the Golden Age of the hobby is very special. But it has indeed turned into a real job and requires a lot to sustain the various business aspects of running a small publishing company. This is where the work part comes into play and every day I am doing something for RSP.


What is your typical working day like?

Typical isnít a word I could realistically apply to my day(s), it is just so abnormal to be a small one-man company, and RSP is very different to other small hobby industry companies even. In short, I break my day into two main parts. The mornings are usually filled with customer emails/questions, business dealings, shipping, etc. I handle every email, every sale whether through the RSP website or via my global dealers, plus I also handle the social media and marketing of RSP products. Facebook has effectively changed how the world communicates and the RSP Facebook page is very active and keeps me busyÖand then usually after I get caught up with this work, I can take a small afternoon break to eat and exercise then Iím able to be at the workbench for the model building in the second part of the day.

In such a busy schedule, what is it you do to relax?

I relax with my friends and family here in PortlandÖ it is the ideal city for going out and just enjoying life in general. Itís a beautiful region, and fantastic food/drinking city and there is never a shortage of places to go have a nice meal and cocktail with friends. That said, I still consider the models my main hobby and even when I am in work mode for a new book project, the subtle efforts of being a scale modeler do indeed provide the necessary relaxation, as well.

What can we expect from RSP in the future?

I try to keep things simple, this allows me flexibility and maneuverability over time. With the SM Series, RSP can now easily and effectively branch out into other areas of the hobby outside of armor, and then combined with the larger TANKART format the two series will provide the backbone of growth over time. For me, the real hurdle is production output. Because I am the main author of each title, it simply takes time to produce new material and products, and my challenge to continue a steady stream in both a business aspect, and as a professional modeler. Iím always looking ahead, developing new products, new techniques and working on my philosophy of the How and Why, which is the heart of what RSP is all about. My goal is to educate, inspire, challenge, share and allow modelers to achieve results within their own work -- to help the modeler find his/her voice, his/her style.

Finally, will we have a chance to see you again in Europe this year?

Iím set to return later in 2017. Germany in August with the ModelBlauKoenig store summer event, and most likely Holland in October for Scale Model Challenge.

Mike, thanks for your time. Hope to see you next year in Moson.

Thanks Mario!

PS Mike's seminars given in Moson can be accessed here:

PPS My thanks to for providing the photos for this article.

About the Author

About Mario Matijasic (Maki)

You wonder how did this addiction start? I was a kid when my dad broght home a 1/72 Concord airplane; we built it together as well as couple of other airplanes after that. This phase was just pure fun: glue, paint, decals in no particular order... everything was finished in a day or two. Then I disc...


Thanks for sharing this!
MAY 18, 2017 - 04:36 AM
Awesome guy to deal with when buying his publications. Great service and follow up in regards to queries. Thanks for sharing.
MAY 18, 2017 - 01:25 PM
Mario, thanks for posting this interview! I have all of Mike's tank art books and look forward to the next in the series! I'd love to make it to Hungary and this show some year...all the way from Hawaii!
MAY 18, 2017 - 11:39 PM
Glad to hear you approve of this feature form. It was a real pleasure to do the interview as Mike is very easy to talk to. Mario
MAY 19, 2017 - 12:27 AM
Nice one Mario, interesting interview, and not even that short... He did admit to being chatty after all.
MAY 22, 2017 - 03:27 AM
Thanks for this. Michael is a talker, ain't he? Must be the Italian in him.
MAY 23, 2017 - 01:44 AM
Easy to understand, just make the hands test, if you tie is hands and can not talk anymore it means that it is the Italian side in it .... my wife tells me i move my hands even when i think ...
MAY 23, 2017 - 03:51 AM
Very interesting, thank you.
MAY 28, 2017 - 10:41 AM