Being very involved in the decorative painting industry for the past 12 years, I believe I have a strong grasp on what my fellow artists are experiencing throughout the country with the economy in its current state. If asked how I’ve weathered the downturn in the economy, I’d have to respond honestly by saying, “Carefully.”
With a market shift like we’ve seen over the last four years, it’s been even more important to focus on quality and customer service. Exceeding our clients’ expectations in every area, from the initial consultation to the final, stunning product, results in valuable word-of-mouth referrals, a stronger reputation with designers, and more impressive portfolio. With my best efforts out there, I’ve been able to produce three of my favorite projects during this time. Each one is amazing and different in its own way.
The first project was an experience that has since been near and dear to my heart. The sunroom featured here belongs to a well-known celebrity’s home and was part of a 2009 commission large enough to allow me to contact artists from around the country and work with them in this incredible home. For 30 days we worked long, exhausting hours each day and spent each night in a cheap hotel. One night, we returned to find our room emptied of all our belongings. Our things had been replaced by cables and unfamiliar equipment. Confused, we went to the office to ask the manager what had happened to our room. He excitedly explained that we’d been suddenly moved to another room because ours was needed for a movie being filmed at the hotel. He whispered to us, “It’s a De Niro movie!” He showed us to our new room, where we sat outside the door until we got a glimpse of Robert De Niro being ushered to his car by huge bodyguards. Moments like that turned one of the most challenging projects I’d done into an experience filled with friendship and unforgettable memories.
For the sunroom, we used AquaStone and fell in love with it. AquaStone is easy to apply and gives such an original look and feel. We used 1/16th inch tape for the grout lines, applied plaster with a trowel, and let AquaStone do the rest. The resulting room thrilled the client and became an instant favorite of mine.
The foyer shown here is a project that I can only describe as opulent. My portfolio features a collection of “Wow” samples that create an awed response from clients. This project came from a “Wow” sample and certainly turned into an even more “Wow” room. With walls 20 feet high and a dramatic vaulted ceiling, the foyer lent itself perfectly to this finish. I started with a white metallic base, then used tintable LusterStone to add a damask pattern with a stencil by Melanie Royals. In addition to the gorgeous walls, the ceiling features stunning gold leaf gilding. Again, the sheer size of the job gave me the opportunity to work with other artists. We applied more than 4,000 sheets of gold leaf to complete the foyer. The overall effect of such beautiful finishes on walls and ceiling makes this the most elegant foyer I’ve done to date.
I’ve done many, many murals over the past 12 years, but only for the last year or so have I started to take more of a role in designing my own custom murals instead of basing an idea on something the client already had in mind. For example, one design idea had been forming in my mind, something basic but contemporary. I sketched it out and loved the placement of the people in the mural, how they seemd to interact, and how the mural seemed to tell a story. Meanwhile, I’d done a string of commissions for restaurants and nightclubs and built up a reputation for murals in those establishments. I kept pitching my mural design idea until finally I met with the right client in the right venue and everything clicked. One restaurant owner also liked my mural design and I could finally bring this painting to life. I started with models; three women and two men who happened to be friends of mine. The first step involved a photo shoot with the models posed in specific ways and the lighting arranged to suit the tone of the mural. For the background, I used principals of perspective to ensure a consistent, realistic line for the viewer’s eye. Using an Artograph projector to project images onto the mural proved a tremendous time saver. I used FauxCreme Colors for the figures in the mural and couldn’t be happier with the end result. This mural is a favorite of mine and, now that it’s installed in the restaurant, looks like it was made just for that space.
While recent times can be challenging in the decorative painting industry, there are opportunities out there for artists willing to go after them. Being able to provide outstanding results for your clients can make all the difference in the world. Don’t compromise on quality or skimp on attention to your clients. You never know what incredible experiences and projects that next consultation can lead to if you always strive for the best.