Something that is used by colleges and paint manufacturers in the painting industry are competitions. Dulux hold their Apprentice of the YearCrown are involved in the Worldskillswith their Young Decorator of the Year and Johnstones have their own Young Painter of the Year. All have entry criteria that you must be working towards a relevant qualification or have spent a limited number of years in the trade, some have age restrictions some do not. They are actually quite fun to enter to you get to meet and talk to plenty of people in the industry.

While I was training at Coleg Sir Gar I entered firstly into the first Dulux Apprentice of the Year competition in 2008 then into the Crown Young Decorator of the Year 2009 and thankfully won 1st place in both. In 2011 I was asked back by during the Dulux apprentice competition to judge firstly on the regional heat and also during the finals at Bridgend College.

I do support these competitions, not only do they showcase the great talent of students that we have it also encourages colleges to push that extra bit further. Now I will not describe myself as an expert (forever learning!) but maybe I can help settle some nerves and give perspective for those entering.

  • Don’t concentrate on other peoples work, everyone does things differently, it does not mean you are doing it wrong. There is always a lot to do during a competition and you have to plan your work efficiently, looking around is not going to help. Concentrate on what you are doing, what you need to do next and what is coming after that. I tried not to look at other peoples work even after at the end of the day, my judgements didn’t really matter, I could get all the feedback from the judges I needed.
  • Use your time wisely, really, it sounds simple but don’t wash a brush and kettle (should you need to) until your sure you will not need it again, wash it once to save time. There is usually something else that can fill some time, maybe a stencil or tracing out, tape up, something that you can stop and start. Any paper hanging should be finished last of course, but remember that you will need to clean off any paste so adjoining paintwork should be finished plenty of time in advance. Any time to spare at the end (should you be lucky enough) use it to your advantage and go over everything making sure its up to scratch, light rub down and touch in, clean up some cutting. Just don’t walk away now is the time to be most critical of yourself.
  • Speed is not everything, you might do it quickly but is it accurate? or even correct? You can usually touch in any painting mistakes but wallpaper mistakes take time (you might even run out of material) and if your measurements are wrong then it is sometimes difficult to recover. Of course the opposite is also true, if you are too slow and bogged down in the details you will lose sight of the bigger picture. When you have finished an aspect just take a step back and make sure everything looks right and your progressing at a comfortable rate. You are always going to be given a plan so double check everything and if you are still unsure ask for some clarification from the judges. There will be a starting point, somewhere that the first measurements will be taken from (usually top of the skirting as it will be the same for everyone) remember that and afterwards only use your own markings to measure from.
  • Quality is going to be a decider, if you have fat edges, holidays, torn/upside down wallpaper it will count against you. Even if you have completed everything and the next person has not finished, they may still beat you on quality and catch up on points. The overall look of the piece will also have an impact so any free style areas need to be balanced as well as creative
  • Try and have fun, I know it sounds stupid and it wasn’t really until towards the end of the competition that I could slow down and have fun with it. But, most people work better when they are relaxed, it might not be a very relaxing situation but trust me when you are finished then the hard work for the judges begins.
So I hope that you are inspired, maybe a little more relaxed, however you feel I’d like to hear how you get on. Hope I’ve helped anyway, Good Luck

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