An Interview With Ian, Founder of INSTAR

An Interview With Ian, Founder of INSTAR Paints

INSTAR paints have long been a favourite of ours, featuring in many of our subscription boxes, from July's sci-fi themed Heroines Box, to September's Orc-tastic Monsters Box (which contained an exclusive wash by INSTAR!) to November's Discovery Box. In that box, we were lucky enough to feature a sneak preview of their brand new line of paints - Alpha, a set of high quality one coats!

After the success of last month's founder interview with Greg of Turbo Dork (you can read that interview here), we were inspired to speak to another amazing paint company. The following interview with Ian of INSTAR Paints first featured in November's Discovery Box Painting Guide. We're now sharing that with you on the blog today 🙂


Andy: I'm really curious about how you got started. What inspired you to establish INSTAR Paints? And what was your background before becoming a paint manufacturer?

Ian: It was all a bit of an accident if I’m honest, before I started INSTAR I worked in the adhesive industry and the company I worked for did colour matching on the products they supplied so that the adhesive was somewhat invisible on the customer’s product.

While I was in the lab doing my usual testing one day I accidentally knocked over a sample of a base polymer I was working with onto some plastic sheeting that was next to it. After seeing how well it worked on the plastic I decided to investigate a little more. Given that I was getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus I used some inside knowledge and made up a few test batches to try when I got home. After that I put some pictures on the DakkaDakka forums to see what people thought of the colour matching on a few scrap models I had lying about. The feedback was good and a few people mentioned that if I bottled it up and colour matched a few more colours then there would probably be a high amount of interest from the community.

After some extended product testing, getting people to try the paint from all across the world, I launched the brand six months later and we haven’t looked back since!

Andy: There are so many paths you could go down when manufacturing paints. How do you decide what colours you’d like to produce?

Ian: It usually depends on a customer’s requirements. To begin with, we matched up the entire Citadel Base Range and then moved onto some of our own colours. Given the equipment we have available to us, we can usually see a colour we like, make up a test sample, paint a model and then see if it fits our range. However, if a customer comes to us with a specific request we usually work to that too.

For the Vintage line, it’s just a random selection considering how many more we have to get through, but again, if a customer has a specific request, we will do our best to match it up!


Andy: From personal experience, I know how stressful and amazing it can be to start your own company! What has your journey been like since you started INSTAR and what have you learnt from the process?

Ian: A bit of a whirlwind! At first, it started with a single line, but over time as more people have started to discover us, we created the metallic line, then the Vintage line, the colour shifting paints, washes and finally the new Alpha line.

We’ve learnt over the year that the community is incredible and while we are growing slowly, the feedback we’ve had from individuals that have tried our paint has been nothing but high praise.

Andy: I spend a lot of time testing out different paints to feature in our boxes, but I know very little about the experience of making them. What’s the hardest thing about making paint? And what’s the best thing?

Ian: That’s a good question! One is making sure that everything is mixed and dispersed evenly. It can be quite frustrating to find that after several hours of mixing that some of the pigments have clumped to the sides of the chamber meaning it needs to be loosened and then remixed again. The second is ensuring we always have a constant supply of material which is a fine balancing act.

The best thing about it is seeing some of the colours we’ve made for the first time, like when we first did the Lime Green colour. It was so much brighter to look at in the mixing pot than it was on the scanner...That was until we did the Havoc Pink colour in honour of The Lonely Havocs love of pink, which nearly blinded us when it came out of the mixing chamber!

Andy: Finally, what are your plans for INSTAR in 2019?

Ian: Quite a bit; we have the Alpha Line coming out as well as planning to complete at least the 3rd-5th Edition in our Vintage Store.

We’re also looking to work more closely with commission painters and studios with a unique offer specifically for them. Lastly, we are replacing the bundle packs with a Starter Set that will include the Signature pack, two brushes and one or two sculpts to practice on.

november discovery box instar paints alpha

November's Discovery Box featuring a sneak preview of INSTAR paints new Alpha range! We chose to showcase their excellent White one coat.