What exactly is an apprentice painter?
Before I answer that, I have another question for you. What does the movie ‘The Karate Kid’ and Mark Twain’s novel ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ have in common? The answer is, fence painting!
Do you remember how Daniel was tasked by Mr. Miyagi to paint his fence? In Twain’s novel, Aunt Polly told Tom Sawyer to paint her fence as punishment. However, Tom was able to convince a dozen neighborhood boys to do the job for him. Sound familiar?
In the case of Daniel, Mr. Miyagi quickly demonstrated the brushing technique and left him alone to repeat it for the duration of the project. Tom Sawyer was given no instructions other than what needed to be completed. Nevertheless, Tom was able to use his natural talent in sales and delegated the task at scale to find the shortcuts. In the end, Mr. Miyagi and Aunt Polly were both dissatisfied with the results.
So what is the morale of the story?
I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect”. Well, in the field of computer science there is a phrase, “garbage in garbage out”. The idea is that poor quality input will always produce faulty output. The same holds true for anything. If you practice doing something the wrong way you will only perfect bad results and in the worst case scenario hurt yourself or others.
The concept of the apprenticeship dates back to the Middle Ages. An apprentice first learns the necessary skills of his or her trade while working under other tradesmen. Next they achieve a certification level of competence and become journeymen. Finally they can eventually become master tradesmen.
History of the Painting Apprenticeship
Painting apprenticeships began in the late 13th Century in England where the first painting guilds were formed. By the early 1600’s the law in the City of London required painters to complete 7 years of a painting apprenticeship. The law was enforced for 200 years.
The painting trade in the U.S. is not regulated and there are no requirements for becoming a painter. In fact, there are many DIY Youtube videos and a handful of reality television shows on air to encourage everyone that painting is easy. However, the fact is that painting is definitely a skilled trade. So what does it take to become a professional painter? Find a painting apprenticeship.
What does a painting apprenticeship consist of?
Typically painters work as an apprentice for three years under a master painter. The standard apprenticeship includes 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) operates the Finishing Trades Institute where you can enter to become a painting apprentice. Employers can also offer workforce development with the help of a trade school like Penn Foster or create their own training program.
What does an apprentice painter learn?
- Chemistry fundamentals (acids, bases and solutions)
- Tool and machinery handling
- Proper tools and materials selection depending on structure
- How to identify material applications
- Job site and surface preparation techniques
- Plastering and drywall installation and repair
- Brush strokes and rolling technique
- Color theory and schemes
How do you become a master painter?
Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best selling book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ often refers to the “10,000 hour rule” in his book. The idea is that you must practice doing something correctly for that many hours in order to truly become a master. Tim Ferriss, author of the best selling book ‘The 4-Hour Chef’ believes that it’s not necessarily the quantity of practice as much as it is the quality of your practice. Albert Einstein once said “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.”