An interview with a Decorator – Mike Cupit of Mike Cupit Decor
How and when did you start decorating?
I was 18 years old and at the time I was working in the Golden Wonder crisp factory. A decorator called Phil Dawe moved to the area because he married one of our family friends. While he was looking for a job over here, he made a few leaflets and posted them out, any work he got was supposed to be a stop gap. He won some outside work and just needed someone to foot the ladder for him for a week or two. I hated the Crisp factory, so I jumped at the chance. We got on well and I ended up working for him for 6 years. It was good, fry-up or bacon sandwiches through the day, pint after work and banter throughout.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of my job overall is being self-employed. There’s nothing better than when you’re smashing great quality work out, the phone’s ringing and everything fits into place. It’s easy to put yourself under pressure, but as long as you can take a step back every now and again, know your limitations and carry on knocking the work out you’ll be fine.
What’s your least favourite part of the job?
Taping up ready to spray or wallpapering!! I hate both and get absolutely no enjoyment out of either job whatsoever. Give me a roller any day.
What’s your favourite decorating tool / piece of kit?
Airless sprayer!! I use a Titan 460e and I’ve had it for about 10 years. I love it!! It’s made me a lot of money and rarely puts a foot wrong. Proper workhorse. I should really take better care of it than I do, from the outside it looks filthy!
Tell us a funny/memorable story about a job:
I can’t really think of any funny stories. There was an elderly chap in a care home who loved taking a wiz on our dustsheets. I think my favorite time was working away in the Isle of Mann, or dare I say Grimsby.
Most people with know you for your work with the Decorators Forum. How did that all start?
Phill Southam started the Decorators Forum Facebook group about 8 years ago. I got involved when there was around 2,000 members and I had delusions of grandeur from the start. Andy Scott was already involved at that time. Dave Fuller came onboard when the group hit around 4,000 members and pushed us along even further. We wanted to grow, help as many people as we can and negotiate a few discounts for our group members. We’re all over the place now, you can’t get away from us!! I look after the Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as www.thedecoratorsforum.com which is the best trade decorating website in the world (as voted for by me).
What advice would you give to anyone else who is interested in the other opportunities painting and decorating has to offer? Is it a case of always being open to new ideas? Always trying new things?
A decorator should always be looking to better themselves. Whether it be spraying, dust free sanding or learning new skill sets. I post some good opportunities on social media and some great ideas get overlooked by the majority of tradesmen. If it costs a couple of hundred quid and a day out of your life to do a course in something new, just do it. You might end up making a better living because of it.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would be the first 3 things you’d do with the money?
I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose I’d take my kids on holiday somewhere nice. Followed by a fishing boat and then a good car. Right now I’d settle for being able to buy a pint down the local pub
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
That’s easy, to eat whatever I want and not put weight on.
If you weren’t a decorator, what would you be?
Realistically? I don’t have a clue, I only got into decorating by chance!! I wouldn’t still be working at the Golden Wonder crisp factory either because it’s long gone. I think I would have just fallen into a different trade…. Hopefully one that pays a bit more.
If you could change one thing about the industry to improve it, what would it be?
I’d scrap retail paint entirely!! Either that or add “Retail Vs Trade Paints” to the curriculum at school so it’s embedded into customers’ brains before we ever meet them.
What do you get up to when you’re not on the brush? Any hobbies?
Fishing, working out, drinking, eating and faffing around on Facebook.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice to make you a better decorator, what would it be?
Diversify more!! There are all sorts we should be looking at to add strings to our bows, but for some reason we get too caught up in making a living. I’m guilty of this too!! Whether it’s epoxy resin floors, resin timber repairs, one-piece murals, spray plaster, silk plaster, interior design or anything else!! There is no reason a decorator can’t add more to their remit then market their new found skills accordingly.
Thanks again to Mike for answering my questions. Another great insight shared.
I am looking to talk to as many decorators as possible over the coming months so we can share knowledge and hopefully raise the profile of the industry as a whole.
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