Spray painter Maddie turned her passion for cars into a career
- Car lover Maddie decided to turn her hobby into a career in the automotive industry
- A pre-apprenticeship in panel and paint, chosen almost on a whim, has led to a rewarding career as a spray painter
- Maddie has been wearing Steel Blue boots since she started in her trade and says they’re endlessly comfortable
In 2017, Maddison Bowie took a punt on turning her hobby into her career. She hasn’t looked back.
“I’d been working in hospitality since I was about 14 and I had pretty much got over working face to face with customers every day,” she said.
“But I had really gotten into cars. I had started a car club for Suzuki Swifts and a few of the girls in the club said, ‘why don’t you pursue something in automotive?’ So, I started doing car washing and light detailing for a car hire company. I was thinking about what I could do that I would be most interested in, and I didn’t think I had what it took to be a mechanic.”
Taking a chance on an automotive apprenticeship
Maddie, who hails from the Gold Coast but now lives in Melbourne, went onto the TAFE website and looked at their automotive pre-apprenticeships.
“I started doing a panel and paint one that went for 14 weeks, just to see what it was all about,” she said. “I liked modifying my car at the time, so I was thinking I wanted to do something where I could create bumpers and body kits and things like that.
“The pre-apprenticeship gives you a really good introduction to the trade and what you can get out of it. I liked the painting side and I seemed to be really good at it. It got me onto the right path.”
At the end of her pre-apprenticeship, Maddie had to complete two weeks of work experience, which she did with Toyota.
“At the end of the two weeks, that’s when they offered me an apprenticeship,” she said.
Honing her skill as a spray painter
In the years since, Maddie has developed her skills and honed her trade at different workshops as opportunities to advance her career have presented themselves.
“What I love is just putting something back how it was meant to be and just having that pride in my work,” she said. “Seeing the customer’s face when they pick it up is probably the best part of my job.”
There have been some memorable jobs over the years that have been sources of particular pride.
“There was a Holden Commodore where I pretty much did everything from start to finish: I did the repairs, I blocked it all back, prepped it all, masked it, painted it, and then did all the cutting and polishing,” she said. “Normally the panel beaters do the repairs, but that day my boss said, ‘do what you need to do’.”
Maddie said her career is now taking her from spraying cars to spraying trucks and she hopes, in the future, to get into custom paint jobs.
Her love of cars has also evolved. She drives a Suzuki Jimny, which allows her to indulge her love of four-wheel driving and camping.
Why Maddie wears Steel Blue boots
Whether she’s in the workshop or out camping, Maddie is always wearing her Steel Blue boots.
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“I’ve been wearing them my whole career,” she said. “Everybody was wearing them and I really liked the look of them. So, I got my first pair and I haven’t looked back. I’ve never had blisters from them. I’ve never had any issues. I’m on my feet all day and they’re just really comfortable.
“I mainly end up buying more pairs because I get a lot of overspray on them,” she said. “So, I buy new ones just so they look a bit nicer, then wear the older ones out camping because they’re going to get dirty anyway. But they still hold their comfort, which is just amazing.”