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95 Years of Painting

14 February, 2019

95 Years of Painting

In 1924 APC magazine’s first editor, F.N. Vanderwalker, set the stage for a journey that has lasted 95 years. Vanderwalker enjoyed painting “because the opportunity it offers to a man willing to work with his head and his hands is unlimited.” Unlimited indeed, because here, almost 950 covers later, we are showcasing an elaborately scaffolded cliff-side project using a photo shot from a drone. The painting industry has certainly changed.

January 1924
Back in the early days of APC (then known as APD), the cover was used as ad space, sold at top dollar no doubt. Our first advertiser on the cover of APD was headquartered in Brooklyn New York and Hull England. Keystone was acquired by Valspar in the ’60s.


January 1934
The cover of this issue was drawn by David Freid, Nebraska painting contractor. He was the winning entry for the 1934 Color Contest in which readers were asked to create a color scheme for a room shown on the cover of the October 1933 issue. Each winner received a personally engraved pen worth $5. Also, notice the National Administration (NRA) logo at the top. As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, this logo was used to incentivize businesses to adopt new codes for hour limits, minimum wage and production standards. Consumers were urged on a large scale to only spend money with those organizations displaying the logo. (For more on the painting trade during the Great Depression, turn to page 32).


June 1943
The Clean Up, Paint Up campaign adds some chores to the list. The Clean Up, Paint Up campaign was created by Allen W. Clark (founder of American Painter and Decorator) in 1913 and backed by many paint associations. This campaign promoted the benefits and importance of a clean, freshly painted home. Across the US signs, brochures and events pushed the campaign’s agenda. In 1943, Pile Up Scrap, in addition to many other household chores, was added to the campaign. The campaign proposed that “When you get people to clean up their homes and the lots on which they are located, they will find all sorts of scrap metal, rubber, etc., that they didn’t even remember they had.” Of course, during the war these scraps were of great value to the armed forces.


May 1955—An Ad for All of Us
In this APD cover ad, Masury offers a free Cussin’ Can to any reader who sends back the cover with his/her information. If the reader includes $1.00, Masury will include one quart of Cosmo Spar Finish.


January 1966
The first cover with the new title American Painting Contractor. A.F. Voss, publisher as of May 1963, said that the mission remained while the fundamental status of the readers had changed. The reader had grown “into a modern-day business executive as well as a craftsman and artisan.” For many issues up to this point the editor marvels at the growth of industrial and commercial contractors among the readership, and with this name change, the leading publication publicly acknowledges a shift in the industry.


February 1973
APC announces that some 50 million yards of paper were hanged by paperhangers in 1972, and projects almost 80 million yards in 1977. The timing could not be any better, as the competition is getting fierce and low-ball bids are becoming more common.


June 1985
Job Profile Pics and a Painter’s Life become staples in cover design and editorial coverage. Tom Sater, decorative painter in Missouri, speaks of his love for his work, those who have inspired him, and the beauty that comes from not having to work 9 to 5.


November 1994
Publisher Andrew Dwyer’s first official photo as the assistant editor. In the much easier days of publishing, Andrew got to spend the day sitting across the river waiting for the boat to go by so he could get a shot.


January/February 2013
The reality house- flipping hits paint! APC goes behind the scenes with BLC Painting as they work with the hosts to flip two properties on Flipping Boston.


November/December 2018
The first cover photo taken by a drone. Taken by Roberto Lopez of Chad Lyons Painting and Decorating out of Washington State, this photo won a year-long contest where contractors celebrate the diversity of their jobsites.


Through Downturn

The Painting Industry Faces the Great Depression

October 1929
The stock market crash begins. American Painter and Decorator reprints the story “Hard Times Scare” originally appearing in The Decorators’ and Painters’ Magazine from London.


1929 Market Prediction
In October 1929 he writes, “Regarding the upheaval in the stock market, industrial leaders are inclined to the belief that if any damage has been done to business outside the speculative field, it will be temporary; that the fundamental soundness of industry and finances is obvious and that next year can be looked forward to with confidence.”


June 1930 Secretary
In the June 1930 issue of American Painter and Decorator, an article quotes the Secretary of the Interior endorsing the importance of paint. It continues to announce the adoption of the Clean Up Paint Up campaign in New Mexico and Maine.


June 1930 Wall Street Bugaboo
In the same June 1930 issue Keystone Paint and Varnish Company criticizes American Painter and Decorator for an earlier article, “Make 1930 a Good Year Yet.” Mr. Arnold projects that it’s the job of APD to “chase away the Wall Street Bugaboo” from the minds of readers so that they can get back to productive work instead of kicking back during a downturn.


1931 Prospects
January 1931, APD’s trends editor outlines the difficulties of 1930, but says the market is poised for rebound in 1931.


December 1931
APD challenges its readers on their business practices during a difficult year. Did you cut your advertising budget during the past year? Then of course your sales declined. APC is also beginning to grapple with its own advertising decline.


1932 Confessions of a Price Cutter
APD fights the good fight publishing editorial about the importance of proper estimating and pricing even in the face of an arguing customer. It also discusses the importance of increasing marketing and advertising during a downturn to keep things afloat.


1933 Hopeful
Despite a chilling drop in the market, we’re still


1933 Recovery
APC publishes the smallest volume in its history. Despite the smaller issues, in the August issue it is reported that May 1933 posted higher sales in paint, varnish and lacquer over May 1932. This was the first month to show an increase over the same month in the previous year since 1929.


Through War

WWII expands the work needed to be done by painters while simultaneously calling men out to serve in the armed forces.


PDCA President McCarthy pledges that the war and the resources needed by the war take precedence over all business dealings. He remarks on the importance of painting during the war effort.


January of 1943, APD explains the new price ceiling order and how it affects the painting industry. Contractors are required to report any and all contracts exceeding $500 to the Office of Price Administration.


In a monthly column, APD reprints information from the US Office of Civilian Defense on the basics of protective concealment so that contractors will be ready to do the work if called upon.


As many men head off to war, the industry braces for a manpower shortage. Even though only 10% of the total industry was expected to report to the armed forces, there was a big influx of work during the same time, increasing the number of painters needed. Though the number could not be verified on a national level, APD reported close to 1,500 women coming to work in the painting trade.


Since all available metal was in high demand for the war, many paint companies started shipping paint in glass. To aid in this change, Sherwin-Williams included a paper bag with handles to make transport easier.


Through Change

A craft evolves in the face of changing products, regulations and processes.


Jobsite Prep – The Evolving Art
It may seem like prepping a jobsite for paint is a tried and true process, but the truth is everyone does it differently and it has evolved greatly. In this strategy, the painter is to coat the baseboard with a thin coat of linseed oil and roll toilet paper onto it. None of you have EVER sent me a strategy that creative!


Safety Changes to Products



Government regulation has long had its hand on the steering wheel of product change and innovation. As formulations have changed over many decades, painters have had to adapt to changing surface prep, open times, tack up, and application. We continue to see unbelievable adaptability and willingness from contractors to work closely with manufacturers to create the best and safest products.


Our industry sees advancements and changes to tools ever year.


Sprayer from the 1940’s
As Scott Burt puts it so eloquently in his column (page 26), "Tools drive process, but tools change every year."


Always evolving, here are new tools from the 1929 touting a brand new way prep wallboard joints for paint.

The new Versa Gun introduces a safety lock on spray guns.


March 1929
At Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Henry Holt proves to actress Fay Wray the efficacy of sound-absorbent paint.


April 1926
As the industry frets over the lack of skilled painters in the industry, William Wilber of Council Bluffs, Iowa takes it upon himself to train a new generation of painters. “Because he absorbed every bit of school training within his reach, he seems determined to make every other chap do the same thing now.”

July 1941
In Houston, TX 114 painters complete painting 55-year-old house in 3 minutes and 18 seconds as part of a Clean Up Paint Up Campaign.


March 1960
Work to keep up the New York City railway system must happen without causing any disruption to train schedules. At this time 1.4 billion passengers annually. For comparison, today the system serves 1.7 billion passengers on the subway alone.

January 1963
The Washburne School’s painting and decorating department where apprentices practice intricate ceiling panel design.


February 1973
Touch up on the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. This painter walks across a suspension cable in high winds on the longest suspension bridge of its time in order to ensure the prevention of rust and corrosion.

January 1978
75 Painters join in Cleveland, Ohio at a huge concrete retaining wall along a rapid transit route, and in 48 minutes flat, transformed it from a drab old concrete wall to an eye catching mural. At the time it was believed to be one of the largest murals of its type in the world.


September 1986
The NPCA launches a big push to enhance the image of painters across the US. “Media coverage helps citizens see paint industry people as identifiable and visible, not no-name and faceless.” Here in Louisville, a group of volunteer pro painters gather to repaint this home while TV, radio and newspapers cover the project.

August 1992
Leanard Parding demonstrates rosewood graining to students at his London school.


April 2018
Paint Track Painting out of New York pose for their 2018
TOP JOB Award.


This Issue is Dedicated to Almost 10 Decades of Painters and Painting Contractors. Thank you for making our structures stronger, safer and more beautiful.

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