With a delightful accent, Martin Riding tells of his passion for faux finishing and decorative painting.
His fascination with the world of faux began in 1986 in Europe. Martin instructed some workmen to be careful with the marble stairway. The contractor stuck a penknife into the finish, and explained to Martin that it wasn't actually marble, but a plaster finish.
Right then, Martin knew he wanted to learn to create these realistic looking finishes.
After further experimentation in Europe, Martin moved to the United States in 1994, where he continued to pursue his passion for faux finishing. "I went to Rebecca Parsons' school, studied with Gary Lord, Michelle Santilli of NASODA (North American School of Decorative Arts), and I still budget about 2-3 weeks for education each year," Martin says.
Martin credits his studies with Kathy Carroll for " her encouragement and helping me in thinking outside of the box." He also observed "I have several ‘mistakes’ that have become best sellers!"
Martin clearly enjoys the learning process, and finds that staying on top of those new techniques and finishes is very important. Martin also observed "When a customer gives you liberty to do what you want to do, you can really have fun." And clearly, Martin enjoys bringing beautiful finishes to life.
As he began his business, Martin would do all the paint-related work. Now he enjoys the luxury of referring the base or straight painting to other contractors, while Martin focuses only on the faux finishes.
Martin was presented with an opportunity to really wow Parade of Homes visitors in September of 2006. Besides the obvious opportunity to show his skills, Martin was brought in at the last minute -- in one 91-hour week, he had to do a 2 story fireplance and a huge dining room.
"The finishes were detailed," Martin explains,"and it was very hard work producing the travertine stone, stria and metallic finishes." Martin also noted that the base coat was an oil paint -- and he had to work with an unfamiliar oil glaze to accomplish the finishes. Yet Martin's work, completed in a short time frame, was the hit of the Parade of Homes, garnering a prize for the painting and decorating.
Martin's generosity is evident when he talks about sharing his experience with faux finishers new to the business.
"The most important thing is pricing per square foot. I was doing a lot of hit and miss on the pricing when I started. Then fine tune the pricing based on your local market." Martin explained. "Once I had the pricing done, I carried 50 sample boards plus the "decorators database" I have on my MAC."
Yet another tip is to spend the money for a good brochure and business card. Martin has found that advertising is trial and error, and explains "For me, word of mouth and the money spent decorating my vehicle and trailer has paid off."
Currently Martin gets about 7 out of 10 jobs he bids on, but that he has also taken on a few "loss leader" jobs he has bid at cost because his work would get high exposure. The longer Martin works in the business, the more varied his customer base becomes, noting that he was flown to Belgium to do work for one customer.
So with his successful business, what does Martin want to do next? "I love fine detailed work," he says, "and I want to work on old Cathedrals, opera houses, and restoration work." Gold leaf work holds a particular fascination for Martin.
With Martin's skills and abilities, it is no surprise that he recently purchased the Hart-Featherstone building which dates to 1786-- the second oldest building in Lexington, KY. "It took six months of work to get it where we could live in it," Martin says.
Current plans are for each room of the home to have a different finish, demonstrating Martin's talent and serving as a showcase for the art of faux. Now that the base painting is completed, Martin can continue his work on the trompe l'oeil finishes and others throughout the home.
Contact Martin at email@example.com or visit his website at www.faux-creations.com.