Alan Bond, Las Vegas, Nevada
by Christina Camara
, it would be in the field of faux painting, developing samples and making those samples come to life. “I think it’s incredible that just with paint you can create whatever material you want, from marble, to wood, to metal — name it, really.”
Bond is learning those skills, along with everything else a professional painter would ever encounter on the job, through a three-year apprenticeship with the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, Local 159. He is committed to union work, to quality work and to knowledge of all aspects of the trade.
His finesse at marbleizing and other faux techniques recently earned him a regional award and a chance to work at the Purdy booth at the Paint and Coatings Expo (PACE) in Las Vegas, where he lives.
Bruce Schneider, Purdy’s chief trainer, went through the same apprenticeship program in the mid-1970s. He called Darnell Roberts, who coordinates the training Bond and others receive, and asked if he knew an apprentice who could help him out at the expo, which attracted more than 4,000 participants in January.
Already impressed by the training Bond was receiving, Schneider was even more impressed by his work. “When you have the proper training, you think six moves ahead like a chess player,” he says. “His work is excellent, and he’s in the right place for it.”
Bond agrees that Las Vegas is the place to be. “As far as faux work, this town is a wonderland,” he says. “It’s like Hollywood on a huge scale. It’s amazing everything they have out here.”
The training covers both Old World techniques and the latest technologies. Erasing brush marks with a pumice stone and painting with an airless sprayer are given equal weight. Safety is emphasized, Roberts said. Commercial jobs, especially in the towering casinos of Vegas, require a broad knowledge of OSHA regulations, the proper fit for respirators and other rules. The program also teaches apprentices how to read blueprints as well as the fundamentals of running a business.
Roberts explains that the Painters and Drywall Finishers Joint Apprenticeship is a partnership between labor and the PDCA to ensure the industry is supplied with well-rounded, experienced professionals. The financial support of industry plays a key part in the program’s success. “It’s real important to let everyone understand that without the support of companies like Purdy and others that donate into our apprenticeships — and there are numerous companies — if we didn’t have that relationship we wouldn’t be in the position we are today.”
Bond got a big boost working the PACE show. Symphony, a company that specializes in faux painting products, asked him if he would like to demonstrate his techniques at another show sometime. Bond would love to take them up on it.
While Bond said he enjoys all aspects of painting, working in faux techniques gives him the artistic outlet that he has enjoyed since childhood. He is fascinated by the subtle textures and nuances he can create to replicate marble or other materials.
Bond left a job in food and beverage management at a hotel when he was accepted as an apprentice, and his only regret is not doing it sooner. He credits his training with giving him exposure to everything from refinishing wood to hanging wallpaper and beyond, and it’s given him a way to immerse himself in his love of art.
“It’s helped me tremendously in all aspects. I’m amazed at how it helps improve a person,” he says.
He’s now in the last year of his apprenticeship program and is working for M&H Building Specialty Finishes, an offshoot of Martin & Harris General Contractors. At the end of the program, in September, he will receive a certificate that shows he is a journeyman painter.
While many painters have been successful with on-the-job training, there’s no substitute for the depth of training and experiences Bond’s apprenticeship can offer.
“If you look at the residential industry today, nobody has time to train out in the field anymore,” Roberts says. “If you’re a good caulker, that’s all you’re going to do.” Schneider agrees. “They hit a brick wall when they have to do something different.”
Roberts adds, “When you’re going to the school you learn all aspects of the trade. Labor and management have seen that and that’s why these schools exist.”
Schneider notes that after he went through the apprenticeship in Chicago, he moved to Oregon in 1980. “I walked into the local union and I was working the next day because I had the credibility and the credentials.”
There are no limits to what Bond can do now, Roberts says. “The only limitation is what one person puts on himself.”