Wednesday, August 29, 2012

s o    y o u    w a n t    t o    b e c o m e    a    c u s t o m    p a i n t e r ?

I got an email from a great lady looking do some custom work. I get emails like this frequently with people looking for advice on how to start doing this.

Let me start off by saying I don't custom paint anymore {or I will do one a month for a client that I have either worked with before or I really like}. 

First decide how much time you need to paint a piece between drop off and pick up. I like to have two weeks, something always comes up and throws off my schedule.

When someone emails you and asks if you to custom paint, my first email back would be with these questions.
-I am booked out two months can you wait that long? 
-I get paid half up front half upon pick up, is this ok? I will give you a good estimate when we fill out your work order. I would get paid on supplies used and per hour labor.

Once they emailed back a yes I then sent back a contract/template form them to fill out so I could give them a good estimate of cost. This also became our contract and my work map.

Ask for inspiration pictures and lots of pictures of the pieces to be painted. You need to know what it is made out of. Painting mdf is different than painting oak or a veneer.

1. Does the piece need to be stripped? 
2. Do have colors and knobs picked out? If they need consultation on this add it to your price per hour. Decide on the type of paint to use. As a painter you know that a latex paint is just not going to work well on certain pieces without a ton of prep or a high priced good quality latex. You will spend a lot of time educating your client.
3. Paint the inside of the drawers?
4. Any distressing? How much?
5. Do want an antique glaze? 
6. What sealer do you want me to use, or do you not want a sealer used? I almost always use a wax on light colors and some sort of poly or oil {oil not used as a sealer but to change the finish on dark pieces that look ashy, but this is a different blog post for another day} on dark pieces. I just don't like the way wax looks on black.

Then have your policies. Charge a storage fee if they don't pick up at the predetermined pick up date. Have the client clean the piece before drop off. I was always getting dirty pieces. 
You now have a contract so if they don't like the way it looks and you followed the work/order charge them more money to change the paint.

Print out or put on your desktop the answers to these questions. This is will be your map as you paint the piece.

Go over everything again when they drop off a piece. There were times that once I saw a piece in person I found that I would advise them on using a different paint.

Send pictures along the way.

Trust your gut. If you think a client is going to be difficult, don't take the job, say your calendar is full. Painting furniture isn't easy and some clients think it is and it always takes longer than both of you think.

Does this help some of you thinking about being custom painters?

Here are some of my favorite custom pieces.




My best advice is have fun. You will learn something new with every piece you paint.