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Job Interview

[whitespace] Bob Buckter

Man of Color

You might not know Bob Buckter by name, but chances are you've seen his handiwork (and his promo signs). A native San Franciscan, Buckter, 51, is the man who picks the paints for many of San Francisco's painted ladies. Associate editor David Boyer recently chatted with Buckter by phone. And in addition to finding out about his color-by-mail service, which delivers our local color to out- of-towners, Boyer sniffed out a few of Buckter's trade secrets.

Boyer: What is your job?

Buckter: I'm an architectural color consultant. And that entails picking out paint colors or anything else having to do with coloration--interior or exterior.

Boyer: How did you start?

Buckter: I started out as a painter in 1970 in San Francisco who specialized in polychroming Victorian exteriors. In lieu of expanding, I started consulting colors on the side. And after seven years, I got out of the painting contracting business and just did strictly consulting work.

Boyer: How long have you been doing it?

Buckter: I'm in my 28th year. I was one of the first in the field. And I've been published extensively all over the country and beyond in books, magazines, periodicals, even newspapers and some television spots.

Boyer: Do you like it?

Buckter: Of course. I've done over 5,000 Victorians in San Francisco. And from those, people are inspired. You might say at least two or three people are inspired for each one of my jobs. It sort of snowballs into a certain look the city has. I'm not saying I'm solely responsible for it, but I'm one of the first guys to put it out, and I've done more volume than anyone else in the country.

Boyer: So, what is the "Bob Buckter look"?

Buckter: I would define it as a contemporary look, not in any way historical. It is simply a medium value for the main body, light [for] major trim (like a white or an off-white), a dark border color for minor trim, and then a punch accent color used sparingly. The fifth color would be for backgrounding and the bottom of the building. That's sort of my style, and I've tried everything. This is what I've settled into and what I think looks the best.

Boyer: How do you get people to put up your sign on their homes?

Buckter: I ask people toward the end of the job--and you have to ask at the right time, that's the trick--I ask, "Do you like the job?" And they say, "Oh, I love it." So I ask if they would mind if I put a sign up. And they say, "No, go ahead." There are a few people who say they don't like signs, but other people ask me for it.

Boyer: If you weren't doing this, what might you be doing?

Buckter: It would probably be real estate investment and developing, which has been my sideline the entire time.

Boyer: Favorite movie you've seen in the last six months?

Buckter: I liked that movie about the machine they made and the woman who went far away into another universe and came back again.

Boyer: Contact?

Buckter: Yeah. I read the book and saw the movie. I enjoyed that.

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From the August 10-23, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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