Artist Spotlight – Gary Lord, Decorative Painter and Mural Artist

Gary Lord is an artist, business owner, teacher and published author living and working in the Cincinnati area. He has completed specialty wall treatments for over thirty years through his company Wall Options and now offers classes in these effects through Prismatic Paint Studio. Gary has seen many changes in product use and green design focus over the years and was excited to share his knowledge with us.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

My work day varies a lot as does most small business owners. I own two businesses, a decorative painting contracting business and a school / distributorship for the decorative painting industry.

For my contacting company I seldom work in the field doing paint finishes for more than 16 hours a week unless I have a tight deadline, a new complicated finish, or a very large project to complete. Other hours are spent marketing and selling the projects as well as designing the finishes and making the samples. I also schedule and interact with all my employees about current and future projects.

For my school and distributorship I will be either teaching or helping my office manager with any of the many aspects of running a painting distributorship and a school.

Who or what influences your work and why?

I by nature am a very curious person and therefore I am always looking for the new or interesting wherever I go. I derive many new decorative paint finishes from fabrics, wallpapers, clothing styles, nature, art, photographs and many other ways.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

I do believe that is easier for some people to tap into their creativity than others. I think it is there for all of us but not to the same degree. Everyone has there own strengths different from someone else.

Who or what inspired you to become a Faux Finisher and Mural Artist?

I have a degree in art from Ohio State University. When I started painting in 1975 I knew of no one that did what I was doing. I had always had my own businesses of some sort, landscaping, window washing, grass cutting etc. So when I got out of college I met a new homeowner in a new homeshow home in my town and I did two murals for them for the homeshow. I made the newspaper, printed up business cards, worked the show and started what is now called a decorative painting business.

When teaching classes at Prismatic Paint Studios, how much emphasis do you place on green habits?

When I started my business the commonly used products for glazing finishes was oil based products, which I used for over 20 years. I am now 100% water based products that I use and teach for the last 12 plus years.

Why was it so important to go green?

I switched 12 years ago because I did not what to be exposed to all the toxins any longer. It also reduces that risk to clients and my staff as well. It is also better for the planet to use sustainable products.

How did you approach your first client with green design concepts?

The first “green only” product I used because it was “green” was a product called JaDecor. JaDecor is an all natural product made mostly from cotton, plant fibers and mica flakes. This product had been in Europe 30 years and the Untied States about 12 years. I saw it at a trade show, loved its unique look, and brought it back to my town to show my designers.

How long ago was that and were they immediately receptive?

I have been using this product for about 7 years. Like many new ideas some people liked it right away and others did not. I have used this product in home shows for years to expose the public to it in my market place.

Can you tell me about your creative process?

The client has a need which I will listen to, I then show a selection of samples from my portfolio I think my fit their need. These samples are selected because of the patterns, texture, scale and color in them/ I then will decide with the client which elements from the samples they would like in their design. I then have the client come to my studio with their fabrics, carpet and tile swatches so I can make a sample just for them in the design of their choice.

Where did your first inspiration come from?

The same place the last one did. Who knows? A combination of life’s experiences and the experimentations that comes along with that.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?

As time goes on more and more

What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

We have a hybrid car. We are using fluorescent bulbs at work and at home. We have a computer controlled thermostat we set at home. We car pool at work now. We are going to a 4 day work week this summer to conserve energy at work and gas.

What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?

The life of the planet and everyone on it is affected by our current actions on the planet.

What challenges have you had in your work?

I was told by a friend many years ago that if you were good the hardest part of your job would be scheduling. They were correct.

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

Positive. It is a great tool for marketing and selling your business concepts on. There is no better tool for research and education available.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To be the best I can be. All the while of course knowing that the goal is elusive because I am always looking for ways to improve and raise the bar to a new level.

What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?

I have 30 jobs currently in one stage or another. My staff and I are always looking to have fun and do something new and different.

What are your long term career goals?

To retire. Start then the second part of my life giving back to others.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

Too many to list. I am always inspired by anyone that creates unique beautiful concepts. Some of my favorite artists are Maxfield Parrish, Edgar Degas, Salvador Dali, Thomas Moran, and many others

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?

Follow your passion, do not give up, always do your best.

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?


What is your best “going green tip”- for example turning off lights, or eating one meatless meal a week?

Buy a hybrid for your next car. Car pool more

How would your friends describe you?

curious, funny, caring

Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?

Wall Options; Prismatic Painting Studio

Smart Energy Technology:

4 thoughts on “Artist Spotlight – Gary Lord, Decorative Painter and Mural Artist

  1. Matt S

    Every little effort towards a greener planet helps. Use of organic materials, cutting back to a 4 day work week, (that’s a 20% energy savings for those keeping track!) and still producing beautiful results! The JaDecor is a really nice finish.

  2. Julie

    I took a class with Gary a few years back at the SALI convention…awesome guy. What a small world–I read a post on the Etsy forums on a thread I started…and up popped gary’s name! 🙂

  3. Judi FitzPatrick

    Wonderful interview, great information, and fantastic to know that Gary has “gone green” for the planet and his own health/safety and those of his employees. Kudos on the 4-day work week, not many employers are willing to go that route. Peace, Judi

  4. Jennifer Shon

    The 4 day work week is becoming more popular in companies these days and it is great to see it spread to the artist community. It is good to see that Gary not only utilizes eco friendly products in his daily material lists but has taken it to the next level of green by paying attention to the energy savings this 4 day work week can provide.

    Thanks for everyone’s comments, it is nice to hear he is as fabulous in person as he is virtually 🙂


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