Window painting for the holiday season: four things to consider

October 23, 2009 at 7:52 pm Leave a comment

This is my third year in window painting business, thanks to Mr. Chris Fadness who trained me in this trade in the fall of 2007. Since then I have developed unique methods of window painting art, through trials and errors, and through experiences with many businesses and residences in the Portland metropolitan area. I am fortunate to be in a place where there are not many competitions, but there are a couple of well-known window painters. My methods differ significantly from the ones utilized by my competitors.

Some of the advantages in my method appeal to local business operators who would like some window painting done for special events or holidays. When selecting a professional window painter, instead of doing it yourself, there are several things you want to consider.

1. Why do I want it anyway?
Like trees and wreaths, window painting has become a seasonal tradition of sorts for many businesses. While it is a year-round operation, I receive most inquiries during the months of November and December. This year I have instituted a “peak-season pricing” system (Nov. 20-Dec. 20) to prevent overloading on my schedules.

Window painting is kind of like a temporary mural. It simply attracts people’s attention. Humans are often products of habits, and even if your business may be at the same storefront for decades but many people just walk by in front of your shop and never notice you exist or what your business is. Window painting often brings people out of the routine and brings their attention to your business. Often I design the painting to lead passers-by to wonder about your business (for example, a winged angelic car pulling a sled for a Subaru dealer), so they would think about what my clients do.

It also builds a sense of community. Window painting adds your business to an overall neighborhood scene, and gets people to talk about you as a positive part of your neighborhood. Even though it may be just a bit of warm-fuzzies it promotes, but business involves a lot of customer’s emotions, and warm-fuzzies can greatly enhance your holiday season earning capacity.

2. What kind of paint is it?
Some window painters in the area use permanent paints (such as acrylic or even house paints) for window painting. While this is great for permanent signage, it is a pure nightmare if you are just looking for seasonal or temporary decorations. Removing permanent paints off your windows involves heavy scraping (can cause damages to the windows — just as the owner of the Postal Annex in South Portland discovered last year) and use of toxic chemicals (paint thinners, if inhaled, is poisonous and smell of the chemical can linger inside your building for some time) that can be harmful to the health of your employees and customers, as well as to the environment.

My window painting method is designed specifically for temporary or seasonal use, and requires no scraping or dangerous chemical for removal after your sale or the holiday season is over. While the paint becomes opaque (which means one can see the design from both inside and outside, keeping your shop from becoming dark) and solid without discoloration for about six months once it is dry, it can be removed with lots of warm water and typical household window cleanser (such as Windex). Also it saves you money as you would not need to hire a professional cleaner to get rid of the window paints.

3. Use of negative (transparent) spaces is part of the art.
Many window painters try to literally fill up the entire windows with paints, sometimes with big block of white or black paints. As trained artists know, what is not painted is as important as the painted areas. For a storefront window, the negative space serves an important role of keeping your windows function as windows. If your business needs visibility through a window for security reasons, it makes no sense to fill it up with paints. Likewise, especially some of the permanent paints used by a few window painters can block light and make the space inside semi-dark all day long (which may require extra lighting indoors, resulting in a higher electric bill and carbon emission).

4. Original designs are kings.
It is your storefront. It deserves to stand out from the crowd with a one-of-the-kind, only-one-in-the-world design specially made for you. It is also important to know that some painters, without authorization or license, paint copyrighted cartoon characters or something that could easily be mistaken for them. You could be held liable for any copyright infringement.

Would you like to see how it is done? Would you like one done for your storefront, office or home (a great fun for kids — I had a client who asked me to paint fairies and a snow princess — my original creation inspired by the Renaissance style, not the Disney kind — on her daughter’s bedroom window!) this holiday season? Stop by at the Postal Annex on Southwest Boundary Street between Corbett Avenue and Macadam Avenue, on Thursday, November 19 between 9 a.m. and when done (probably by noon). Any client who makes a reservation there and then will receive a 20 percent discount.

Read more about Sarah’s window painting and signage services


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