When Shane Legano joined H.J. Holtz & Son in 2003, he became only the third person in the wallcovering and decorative arts division. And he didn’t hang any paper for his first 18 months on the job.

“You need good training,” he said. “It’s not a fast process or easily done.”

Shane was brought to the firm by good friend Jeff Ragland, who leads the division and knew Shane’s skills were being underutilized in his job as a framer at a local craft store.

You see, Shane is an artist.

Working primarily in charcoal and pen-and-ink, Shane has created portraits and landscapes his whole life, learning about art from an uncle who had an airbrushing business.

“It definitely helps to have an art background,” he says. “Every paper is different. You have to find the center of the room, consider how the paper hits the ceiling line.

Shane credits the company with supporting its staff through membership in the Wallcovering Installers Association, a national trade association dedicated to training and education. Traveling to national conventions yearly, employees are able to learn about changes in products and techniques, such as new primers and paste.

“Somebody is always trying to make things a little easier,” he says, pointing to the change from levels that have to be held against a surface to laser levels that can cover a greater area and stay in place while someone is working.

Last year, Shane and Jeff attended the first international WIA conference in England, where they spoke with designers, visited factories and explored the history of wall coverings – even seeing hand-painted wallpaper in a castle. “Wallpaper’s been around forever,” he notes.

The other part of the division encompasses faux finishes and murals, which allows Shane to let his creative juices flow.

“We can pretty much do anything that anybody wants,” Shane says. “And nine times out of ten, people are open to suggestions.”

One mural project started with a canvas painting from Italy that the client wanted to fill the wall behind a bar. The problem? The mural wasn’t large enough. So Shane and a colleague hung the canvas in the middle and added to the painting on both sides, creating one continuous image. With another project, the homeowner wanted to create symmetry at the front of the house, which had windows on one side and a garage on the other. The solution was to simply paint windows on the garage! “You can’t tell the difference,” Shane says.

Even a repetitive project – such as the house that was painted to have a faux wood grain interior throughout – has its charms.

“It’s incredible to see when it’s finished,” Shane says. “It’s very satisfying.”

Shane says he is happy to be celebrating his 15th anniversary with H.J. Holtz & Son, especially following a car accident last fall. He was out of work October through December, and he is still unable to hang paper. “But Rick took me back in January, putting me to work in the office, estimating. Not too many people do that for you. If you can’t do what you do, they don’t have you come back.”

Shane is excited about the creativity of the craftspeople now in the department: four people can hang paper, with two more in training; six do faux finishes.

“With our skill set in this division, the sky’s the limit.”

“I love the artistic side of it.”