For the past three years, 36-year-old Olivia Cook has found her groove painting exotic go-fast boats for the Wentzville, Mo.-based Marine Technology Inc. A graduate of WyoTech in Blairsville, Pa., Cook grew up in a military family and lived all over the world in places such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Texas and Canada’s Newfoundland. An automotive painter by trade, Cook, who never envisioned painting boats until Nick Mayden, a friend of hers from tech school whom she met in an upholstery class and worked in MTI’s upholstery department, convinced her to apply at MTI, seems to truly enjoy her fast- paced, high-stress job. It helps that she works closely with a couple of talented and dedicated painters—Matt Doyle and Tommy Scantlin—who have been very encouraging and helpful as she’s become more proficient with her craft.
Dedicated to her craft and endlessly creative, Olivia Cook excels as a painter of MTI creations.
Cook, who has an Instagram page with close to 20,000 followers, said she wants people to recognize her work ethic and ability not just that she’s a rarity in the boat world—a female painter. “I’d like people to see that I can do the work and do it well,” she added. “Painting boats is hard work. It takes a lot of time, experience and aptitude. Sometimes I feel like I have to prove myself even more because I’m a woman, but I’m always up for the challenge.”
WHAT WAS THE FIRST BOAT YOU PAINTED AND HOW DID THAT FEEL? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY BOATS YOU’VE PAINTED OR HELPED PAINT?
I don’t know exactly how many boats I’ve painted, but we average around 40 to 50 boats a year. The first one I worked on was Bob Bull’s 52-foot raceboat after he and Randy (Scism, MTI’s founder) were run over at the Key West Offshore World Championships. After the crew repaired the back end of it and cut the top off, we painted it white with orange and gray accents and applied Bob’s well-known skull logo on the deck ahead of the transom. The sheer size of the boat was kind of overwhelming at first, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.
WHERE DID YOU WORK BEFORE MTI?
I was a painter at a body shop in Illinois. My background was in restoration, custom graphics and collision.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST?
When I was a teenager— although when I was younger I would draw and doodle all the time. Once I got to high school I did OK with school, but art is where I thrived.
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