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Meet Katie Vonderheide of Beautification Solutions

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Vonderheide.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I run Beautification Solutions with my partner, Justin McInteer. We both went to art school and had been painting for a long time. Around 2011, I was running a gallery in East Hollywood with my partner, Chris, and we had a stand-alone building which, is pretty rare in LA.

We decided to make one side of the gallery building a mural wall which, would switch out with each show. This way, artists could have an interior as well as public show. Or, we could have one artist on the exterior and one in the interior. I was friends with Justin because he was running his own space, Echo Curio, in Echo Park. Justin began to help me execute the murals since most artists left it to the last minute.

We collaborated on several murals there. We discovered how much we loved everything about painting. We got our start solely from referrals from friends. We set goals for ourselves every year. Often, while we are painting, we talk about ways we can improve the business as well as our skills. Our biggest goal has always stayed the same, to work faster with precision.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a smooth road so far in our partnership. Justin and I work really well together, and we’re both extremely hard workers. However, when I think back, there have been many struggles and learning lessons with the business side of things. Safety has been a big one. We’re often overconfident on lifts and ladders, and while I think it’s necessary to be comfortable now, we’re much more careful.

We both operated on a DIY level and taught ourselves from the beginning so, we were unaware that there was often an easier way to do something. Through the years, we’ve learned something new from each job whether it’s been in the admin side or the perfect tape to use when hanging up our patterns on a windy day. It’s helped immensely to figure these things out as a collaboration since we both love to use our creativity to solve problems.

In 2016, I decided to put some work into learning the craft of sign painting and enrolled in the Sign Graphics program at LA Trade Tech. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Learning from the instructors there, Doc Guthrie and Carlos, as well as my fellow students, was an invaluable experience.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Beautification Solutions story. Tell us more about the business.
Beautification Solutions started with the idea to beautify everything around us. We’re so inspired by the city of LA all the murals that exist here. We focus on precision painting, and we do commercial signage and murals. Though we do all types of work, our favorites are bright and colorful pieces, and that’s partly what we are known for.

I’m most proud when someone tells us they love our work. Also, when someone mentions how they see our work all over LA. It’s so satisfying to go to any neighborhood in a city as expansive as LA and realize we can revisit our work. There’s an amazing community of sign painters and muralists in Los Angeles.

We go to each other for advice and hire each other to assist with jobs all the time. It’s hard to say what sets us apart from all the rest since we’re a community of capable and creative people. We do have a wide range of past work so, I think our portfolio speaks for our specific voice within the overall community of LA painters.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We are so lucky in that we have the opportunity to do only hand-painted signage and murals. In the 1980’s everything changed with the introduction of vinyl, and hand-painted signage took a nosedive.

Now it seems the ship is slowly turning the other way. Our clients embrace brush strokes and imperfections, they’re reflective that the work has been done by a person’s hand and not a machine. We try to embrace digital work as much as possible in the planning stages, and we are always open to finding faster and more efficient ways of doing things.

I’m confident though that nothing will replace the magic that paint can do to completely transform space. But, who knows what the future will bring!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Caitlin C. Mithcell, Miriam Park, Andrew Martin Scott

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