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As Seen In American Painting Contractor
How To Faux Pompeii
Feature from APC, June 2000
In this feature, Greg Frohnapfel and John Catalanotto provide A step-by-step instruction on how to create a beautiful and profitable decorative finish. Namely, Pompeii a look that provides an aged yet casual feeling and incorporates raised stenciling.

ProFaux Team Takes Home Three Awards to Add to Their Teaching Credentials

Frohnapfel, who began a career in medical research, and Catalanotto, a former banker and auto franchise manager, are the respective artistic and administrative geniuses behind Pro Faux, one of the country's fastest growing decorative painting schools. The partners secret to prosperity? Merely loving what they do.

"I like working with my hands," says Frohnapfel, who ironically started his own contracting company in 1983 to pay for his medical education. "You can see tangible results at the end of the day, as opposed to the slow results of research. I truly enjoy what I'm doing."

"We honestly think our most enjoyment comes from our students' enthusiasm," confesses Frohnapfel. "After years of contracting, it is refreshing to work with eager students.

Wanting a Bigger Challenge

Greg originally left his medical research field to become a paperhanger. Although his contracting business was lucrative, Frohnapfel craved a greater challenge. "I didn't feel like I was growing anymore in my business."

So Frohnapfel studied decorative painting under Englishman and expert faux finisher Leonard Pardon in New York City, and graduated from the Pardon School of Specialist Decoration.

In 1990, he tried to promote his business through a trade show. "I bought a booth trying to generate business.. It turned out to be more work than I expected. John and I were good friends and he helped me put the whole thing together. It involved painting decorative backdrops for the booth. And that's when he really fell in love with the painting."

Catalanotto naturally fell into the sales and management side of the business. "As a team, we found out how well we worked together and how much more enjoyable the team effort would be."

At their very first workshop, they had some industry insiders in attendance - the vice president and product manager of Loew-Cornell Co., a Teaneck, New Jersey firm that had just acquired the whistler faux finishing brush line.

"We've always tried to improve each workshop, and have tried to do something new every time we teach. As a result of student evaluations, we've learned what students are really looking for, and we are providing that."

One of the more enjoyable aspects of teaching such a variety of people is watching the learning process. "Hopefully we get people over their initial fear of working with paints and brushes. We expose them to the mixing of glazes and paint, and try to get them excited. As children, we are not afraid to paint or draw, but as we get older we get more and more afraid to expose ourselves creatively, whether in music, writing, or painting."

The two continually bone up on a variety of disciplines to add depth and greater understanding to their art, including: Petrology, History, Biology, and Fundament Construction.

On the Job

Although they both love spending their time working hours teaching, they still do occasional decorative painting jobs. "Sometimes it's tough to turn down a unique project. One we couldn't turn down was for the CEO at Sherwin-Williams. We did a workshop for them, and they ended up asking us to do some decorative painting. We painted the CEO's office, the president's complex, and the corporate reception center."

Knowing the fundamentals of paints, of mixing glazes, and using the proper tools and techniques add up to the right ingredients for a successful - and enjoyable - career in faux finishing. It is not uncommon for an experienced faux finisher to command over $50 an hour. Faux finishers are typically a fraction of the cost of installing and finishing the real wood or stone materials. Practicality is a major advantage of faux finishers... and that puts the skilled decorative painter in high demand.


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