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Work It Wednesday - Rob Farmer

This week we decided to do something different and feature someone with rapidly growing business that extends well beyond its presence on Facebook and Instagram. Meet Rob Farmer: painter and fine artist extraordinaire.

1. First off, tell us a little about yourself. Who IS Robert Farmer and what does your company do?

I am a fine artist who has migrated a rewarding career into a complimentary pursuit in the trades, sustaining a desire to continue to be able to make art on my own terms. I am a fine artist and the owner/operator of house/commercial painting business, My paintings are created in the pop surrealist genre, a stark rendition of dreamy imagery juxtaposed alongside the ‘colour field’ painting of walls in clients’ homes.

2. What inspired you to create Colour Coat?

After experiencing a modicum of success as a fine artist, I required something else to sustain the desire to continue making artwork and researched possible ways to become more self-reliant instead of working for someone else. This natural ebb led me towards painting houses since I was already ‘painting.' Having begun Colourcoat in 2009, the business has flourished to the point where I can still make art, and not compromise integrity by working for someone else.

3. What do you think has been the biggest factor behind ColourCoat’s success? You’re also an artist on top of managing a business.

My approach to working in the trades, as a house painter, has always been linked to how I network as a fine artist - anywhere that provides the chance to connect with people on an interpersonal level, so they can see me as a real person, as opposed to an internet denizen, devoid of personality or character.

Having the skills as an artist also helped me to secure new leads, as it was easy to convince people the major difference of simply painting one colour on a wall versus conceptual art filled with imaginary and metaphorical narratives. Altogether was the proof that I paint all the time. What tradesperson who actually likes what he does- would spend countless hours doing it for probably free in their spare time?

My marketing (besides Instagram and Facebook) is rooted in my comfort in risk-taking, and no longer behaving as if there is competition (even when there is). Having to be creative in fine art has led me to be equally creative in what I offer in the workplace. My houses are really just utilitarian sculptures that happen to be lived in.

4. We love your commitment to providing opportunities for women in a male-dominated industry. How can we create more opportunities for women in the trades?

I offer women equal pay and the chance to work in an industry usually dominated by men. I pay everyone fairly-above minimum wage, with income solely based on a combination of experience and integrity. One can identify with whichever gender they choose, since everyone gets treated as equals and can grow together in a workplace that embraces respect and has zero tolerance on toxic behaviour.

5. Let’s share the love! Who are your favourite local brands in Toronto and why?

Some of my favourite local haunts include the office away from home, Mercury Espresso Bar on Queen St. East in Leslieville. I also frequent Value Village for sometimes eclectic demands for unusual art supplies and favour Curry’s for oil paints. Some of my local favourite artists are Jeannie Pappas and Kate Domina.

6. How do you #workit everyday? My typical day is: get up at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. The best work gets done at these odd hours of the day. I work on art until about 7:00 a.m. and then have breakfast and a few coffees prior to the average day of painting homes and/or businesses/managing employees/meetings from 9-5, or 6, or 7 (depends on the week).

After getting home, I am usually tired to the point that any social time is removed from my schedule. I go to bed by 9:00 p.m. and start over again, six days per week!

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