Painting Walls a Profitable Art

Hartford Courant by Author: Dan Uhlinger
Photographer: Bob MacDonnell - 06/18/2001

hartford_06182001.jpgSix years ago, Patrick Ganino was just another teenager trying to find himself.

An aspiring artist from Groton, Ganino had moved to Florida to attend college and obtain an arts degree, but quickly lost ineterest in his studies and dropped out.

"I got bored painting pictures of rocking chairs over and over." he said.

Ganino tried his hand a patining murals in nightclubs and other business after a rommate helped him find his first professional job at the age of 19.

His work attracted the attention of a decorative painter, who game Ganino an apprenticeship. Within a year, however, he decided to pack up his paintbrushes and move back to Connecticut.

"I was young and was just kind of messing around in life, getting a grasp on the real world. In the next couple years I kind of grew up," he said.

And group up he did.

Three years ago, Ganino started his own business, which specializes in decorative painting. Since then, it has grown and he is now hiring other people to help him on certain projects.

The name of the business, Creative Evolution, describes Ganino's own growth as well as his ability to transform dull, colorless walls and ceilings into vibrant, uplifting works of art.

Ganino's company offers three services to private individuals, businesses, nonprofit groups and organizations: custom murals, faux-painting and tromp l'oeil, a decorative technique.

Faux painting makes a surface look like wallpaper and adds a dramatic or subtle touch. The technique of trompe l'oeil creates the illusion of depth to trick the eye into seeing a painting as a three-dimensial object. From moldings to shelves, trompe l'oeil adds an intriguing appearance. The technique also makes a flat ceiling appear multi-dimensional.

In the past three years, Creative Evolution has grown from a handful of jobs spread out over several months to an average of one a week.

"Last year I had 35 jobs. Now, I already have 34 and it's only June," he said.

Despite the company's rapid growth, Ganino, who is now 25, still has a boyish, eager countenance. He acts genuinely amazed at his own success.

"I can't even believe I'm making a living at this," he said.

"Most of the people who do what I do are starving artists. They don't even have a portfolio. They try to make it on a part-time basis," he said.

Ganino, who grew up in Middletown and later moved to Groton, now lives in the Gales Ferry section of Ledyard with this wife, Alletah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Lauren, who is already becoming his little helper.

"She likes helping as much as she can. When I do sample boards for customers I set her little shop up right next to mine," he said.

Ganino has always wanted to pursue an artistic career, but the thought of having to live the life of a starving artist is not something that appealed to him. But now he has the best of both worlds - making a decent living while being able to do what he loves best, painting.

When Ganino came back to Connecticut, he didn't have a clue how he was going to achieve both goals. After interviewing with several companies, he obtained a job at Ikon, a company that sells photocopiers and digital printing systems. He later met his future wife, Alli. After a courtship of about nine months, the two were married.

At their wedding reception at Bella Fiore, a Glastonbury restaurant, Ganino got to know the restaurateur, who happend to be looking for a mural painter.

Ganino offered to do the job and was hired to paint a mural of the Michelangelo sculpture "Tomb of Lorenzo" in the restaurant.

The owners were very pleased with the outcome, and Ganino's wife encouraged him to start his own business. Alli continued working to support them while Ganino took several months to establish Creative Evolution.

The rest is history.

"The first year was tough. I didn't have that many jobs, but, fortunately, Alli was working and getting good benefits. Now, things are really taking off. The business is growing, mainly by word-of-mouth, but it's going well and I'm putting a lot of money back into the business," he said.

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