Confessions of a painter: I get to see the homes of celebs
He has painted the homes of politicians, celebrities, businessmen and professionals, and it has given him the chance to peek into the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Along with that comes the perks of being a painter: Taking a dip in the pool and being served home-cooked meals three times a day. All during working hours.
Mr Png Gek Liang, 53, tells The New Paper on Sunday in Mandarin: "I also get to see the interior design of these homes and admire their art pieces."
Mr Png, who runs his own painting company Lawson Painting Specialist, specialises in painting feature walls with Nippon Paint's Momento special effects paint.
He picked up the skill in special effects painting in 2012 and can paint about two to three such walls in a day.
It may be a labour-intensive job but Mr Png says it is like creating masterpieces of art, and he is constantly thinking of new effects.
He admits he is his own biggest fan.
"You must have an artistic flair to do it well. The more you paint, the better your technique becomes," he says.
But dealing with clients is more tricky, he says, especially demanding ones who pick on every detail and demand a redo.
Says Mr Png: "Sometimes, I even run into losses as such customers demand more layers of paint."
He also has to put his pride aside and meet his customers' demands until they are happy with the end result, he adds.
"I do feel insulted being picked on like this but I have no choice, I have to bear with it and be patient," he says.
Then there are clients who do not allow Mr Png and his workers to use the toilet in their properties.
They are told to go to the nearest petrol station to relieve themselves.
He confesses: "I really felt like packing up and going home.
"I had no choice. I couldn't back out since I had accepted the job."
But Mr Png looks on the brighter side of his job, such as working in a new "office" each time.
He says: "I get to go to different places to work and you see different customers every time. It is refreshing."
At times, he comes across unusual incidents, like when he and his workers found an aluminium chest full of cash in a client's house.
They had moved the bed to the centre of the room to prepare the room for painting.
He says: "As we moved the bed, the cover of the box opened up. Inside were wads of cash in neat bundles of $100 notes."
Mr Png quickly alerted the owner, who moved it to the living room and locked it with a combination lock.
He says: "The owner had probably forgotten about it because there were cobwebs on the box."
Once, the male owner of a bungalow invited him and his workers to take a dip in the pool after painting the exterior wall of the house under the hot sun.
On another occasion, a satisfied client rewarded him and his workers a $100 hongbao each.
Generous clients offer them three meals of home-cooked food daily throughout the duration of the painting project.
He says: "They don't treat us like workers. They treat us as friends and with respect."
SECRETS OF THE TRADE
1 Be neat. Protect clients' furnishings properly and ensure you don't leave the place in a mess.
2 Be as quiet as possible and not intrusive, so that the client doesn't even feel your presence.
3 Estimate the handover time as accurately as possible. You must hand over work on time, but not too early as well, as it may raise suspicions of you cutting corners.