For Julian Farian ’26, his love of history has been alive for as long as he’s been. “My family has a lot of interesting historical background. My great-grandfather fought in World War II and the Korean War, and my eighth great-uncle is George Washington.” You read that right. Julian is a descendent of George Washington on his mother’s side. “My family has been really organized about our history. My great-grandfather and his wife documented a lot of our family history.”
So it’s no wonder that Julian took his passion for an entire subject and applied it to a unique hobby. “I went to a camp at my old school many years ago. One of the former teachers ran a modeling camp. I didn’t do a very good job at first, it was very basic, but I had a ton of fun with it!”
In the beginning, Julian’s models would take less than a month to build. “I started very basic with Cold War airplanes and stuff like that.” Julian soon began to combine his interest in World War II with the construction of his models. Interestingly, it’s one of Julian’s older models that he reflects upon with the most fondness. “[I’m most proud of] one of my earlier works, which was a very large D-Day diorama. I got a ton of recognition for it,” he shared. "It’s not my most interesting [work] in my mind because I know, looking at it closely, I could have improved by so much, and there’s so many opportunities that I could have made it better. But I still know that when I was that age, it was a really big thing, and I’m surprised I was able to finish it.”
Editing is also tricky. Julian said he doesn’t often revisit completed works. “I try to make a model that I’m proud to look at, and sometimes I’ll even look at the model many times after I’m finished. I usually don’t go back and edit it.” This way, he approaches every project newly inspired as opposed to reworking the old. “When I look at models online or pictures that are really good, it’s inspiring. I try to see what they did wrong or what I might have done wrong. What can I improve? How would I have done this? How can I make my next project as good as it can possibly be?” Julian joked that you better like to look at what you’re working on because you’re going to be looking at it for a while! “My last project took at least 350 hours. This is not an overnight thing.”
But it was when Julian began layering and combining modeling kits where his interest grew as exponentially as his creations. This is also when he began to apply his depth of historical knowledge. “While I’m building, I change the vehicles to suit the environment. So if it’s late World War II, for example, a lot of the German access vehicles were crudely built and stripped of all the unnecessary parts.” Julian manipulates the many kits he’s combining with his own materials (some made in the WIC!) until he creates a scene that is historically accurate. Julian said he asks himself, “What would I have seen at this place? What vehicles? What uniforms? What soldiers? What would the environment have been like? Was it muddy? Was it snowing?” and this is all a part of the challenge. “When painting soldiers, I really enjoy painting the uniforms and their clothes because it adds so much character. But then the faces are so difficult to paint in that size. If you do it poorly, then it ruins the whole project. So that’s probably one of the most challenging parts.”
It’s this thoughtful consideration that has allowed Julian to stand out in competition. Because it’s one thing to build an intricate model, but it’s another thing to share it! “Thousands of people host these competitions. They’re in big cities all over the country and the world.” This is also where he’s made connections, drawn inspiration and even joined in judging. “You have to learn so much. That’s a big part of it. You have to take each category and then decide which vehicles have building errors…paint defects, fingerprints. Although it’s not an official judging rule, a lot of judges are biased for models that are historically accurate. A lot of these people will recognize that a soldier holding a gun that was made five years after the scene [portrayed] is not authentic.”
The competitions themselves are as interesting as the showcase of displays. Julian explained that there are multiple rooms set up beyond just the showroom where models are categorized and on display — there’s a vending room where you can purchase thousands of kits and presentation spaces where you can learn from professional modelers. And the models go beyond vehicles. Categories include Figures (Sci-Fi, fantasy, dinosaurs, etc.), Humor, Hypothetical, Space and more! If you can dream it up, it could be on (miniature) display! Julian said he plans on sticking with what he knows: history. “I’m much more interested in the military aspect of [building] because there’s just so much more for me in that topic.” The ideas, he said, are endless.
Despite limited free time and growing demands now that he’s entered high school, Julian imagines participating in this hobby for as long as he’s able. “Especially these past few months, I’ve had much less time. And I know it’s going to continue to be like that, especially when I’m older. Like anything else, you have to make time for it.” And like anything else, you can’t expect instant success. “You can’t just work on it every so often and then expect to get good results.” It takes a lot of practice to pull off such an intricate, artistic result. But lucky for WRA, Julian has a huge heart and willingness to share this unique hobby and “model behavior.”
Enjoy the photos below from his most recent competition at the Cleveland Model Show where Julian met up with his advisor Dr. Ralf Borrmann who reports: “I was smiling at first when I saw Julian in the middle of a group of much older guys. However, this changed quickly into awe, when I realized that he is the only one of his age group who is accepted and respected as a peer by these mature and experienced model builders. I learned a lot about Julian’s passion and I am impressed by his level of accomplishment, his dedication and sense of purpose he derives from this activity.”
Julian’s performance at the competition was remarkable. His Ukraine Diorama won Best Miscellaneous, Best Diorama and Best of Show and included parts made in the Wang Innovation Center including a 3D-printed manhole cover, sewer drain and parts for the telephone pole. Julian gives a special thanks to Chief Innovation Officer Matt Gerber and Integrated Studies & Design teacher Eric Miller for their support.