JACKSON, WY — Jorge Olivares has done it all. His professional life has taken him to law school, into television studios, and even to sets of commercials and movies. He was a cinema producer for 10 years. He’s been a handyman. And all of his work experience has led him to Jackson, where he now operates Patagonia Painting.
“I love my job,” Olivares says. “People ask me, ‘why are you a painter?’ But all these experiences I use right now.”
The skills he uses to paint buildings aren’t all that different from the ones he used as a film producer. He’s still thinking about the big picture, and obsessing over the small details he’ll need to get you there.
Olivares started Patagonia Painting four years ago. The name is an homage to his home mountains in Chilean Patagonia. Ditto for the logo, an outline of Patagonia’s iconic Torres del Paine. But Patagonia is universal, Olivares says, and the Torres del Paine skyline doesn’t look too different from that of the Tetons. It’s supposed to be a little generic, to prove we have more in common than not. “Jackson is one city in all the world,” he says.
Olivares should know. He’s lived all over the world. He started painting while living overseas in Europe, moving between Barcelona, Sweden, and Germany. He lived with artists, but none of them understood how to remodel or paint old buildings without damaging them. Olivares was up to the task. Those skills have proven useful in Jackson, where old, historic buildings are abundant.
“You have a responsibility to protect the house,” Olivares says. “There are a lot of very old houses, and I have a lot of experience restoring buildings.”
What sets Olivares and his team apart is that they are more than just painters, he says. They are artists, they are designers, they are handymen. “We’re thinking bigger,” he says. “The best work is not just paint. It’s preparing the area before the paint, and fixing the area before the paint… Getting the perfect texture, the perfect tint, the perfect line.” Before he even thinks about painting, he asks the client a series of questions. What was the last product/paint they used? Where does the sun shine in the morning? What happens with the snow in the winter?
He’s also careful to use materials that are friendly to the wood, the painters, and the environment. He uses water-based, eco-friendly paint whenever possible, and tries to use as few chemicals as he can. He doesn’t clean his brush in water he knows will be dumped down the drain. It’s his duty to the community he lives in to take care of it.
Olivares has plenty of projects that make him proud, but his happiest moments are when clients wonder why they didn’t call him sooner.
“I feel proud when my client is happy,” he says. “I’m proud that my third project in Jackson looks the same as it did the first day.”
Olivares’ also hopes to leave a lasting legacy on his community. He donates paint to Habitat for Humanity. He participates in Dancing with the Stars (he even won two years ago). His company is more than a company, he says. It’s a school.
“I try to teach everyone,” Olivares says. “I work for the community.”