Lucy Rainbow, 30


Scenic painter


pounds 100-200 per day


West London

How did the job start?

I did a degree in fine art at Newcastle and then I tried to make it as an abstract painter. Disillusioned and damp, I gave that up several years later and went in to advertising but left to travel in South America and think about what I wanted to do. I hit upon being a scenic painter because it means being able to paint but in the commercial world.

How long have you done this work?

Since April 1995. My first job was a beer festival banner for Glastonbury.

Describe what you do

I paint the sets in theatres and for pop videos and films. I also get private commissions to do murals and I'd really like to do more public ones; a friend and I spent three months painting a mural in a lift shaft which was a lovely project to do. Other commissions have included a mural of Mount Rushmore for an American theme restaurant and Harley Davidson flames for an art gallery.

Where do you live?

I share a top floor flat with my boyfriend Alex in west London. I was actually brought up in Luton but way back, my family came from the East End and when I was growing up I really resented that they'd moved away.

How does your day start?

Several alarms go off; I have to use two or three and eventually I'll get up. The alarms go off an hour before I need to get up which tends to be between 6.30 and 7.30am. I often miss breakfast, but I always drink water.

What do you wear?

Always navy boilersuits. Apart from that, I like to paint in clothes that have happy associations. I've got a blue Fifties shirt and white jellies that I like.

What's your journey like?

It depends where I'm going, but I always start out on my bike. I cycle up to Notting Hill or Kensington High Street and catch a bus from there.

Describe your work environment

It could be anywhere from the Met Bar in London's Park Lane to a barn in Slough, to a film studio. Next week I'm working in a Newcastle theatre workshop which is on a modern industrial estate in a village just outside the city.

What do you do for lunch?

It depends where I'm working, but when I'm on a film or a commercial shoot catering is laid on. They provide everything. On other jobs you go down to the caff in your work clothes. When you're in the middle of nowhere there might be a burger van outside or you take sandwiches.

What stresses you out at work?

Not knowing what work is coming up or where the next job will come from. You get quiet periods, then the rest of the year is mad.

What are the perks?

The people. I always get to work with wonderful people and I love hearing their stories. I have no problem at all socialising with the people I work with.

What are your hours?

I usually start at 8 or 9am and then stop at around 7pm, but it isn't unusual to do a 16-hour day. That happens when someone has planned badly and I end up having to hang around a lot.

How much holiday do you take?

We usually go away in January or February when it's quiet. Last year we went to Mexico for five weeks and this year it was Andalucia in southern Spain which was wonderful. We were there for the carnival.

What do you do after work?

At the moment I'm doing a computer course, working in 2D graphics so that I can manipulate images which is a handy tool to have for work. I also play backgammon twice a week. I go to exhibitions and love museums - my favourite was the Museum of Mankind but it closed down.

What's the first thing you do when you get home?

Check the phone messages. Catch up with Alex.

How do you feel on a Sunday night?

I like to see a film, either in the flat or at a cinema so it depends what the film was like. I never dread Mondays.