This month we revisit Amber Gabelich, recently qualified spray painter at Riviera Panels in Bairnsdale, and discover that since being inducted early last year the last 12 months have been a whirlwind.
Amber, a Melbourne girl who grew up in the western suburbs, initially caught our attention at the 2018 National WorldSkills competition in Sydney where she won the Bronze Medal in the Vehicle Painting category. Not unlike many who enter the collision repair industry, Amber did not have a great affinity for high school. However, her interests in both cars and creative drawing led her to undertake a pre-apprenticeship at Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE).
Amber went on to a Certificate III in Spray Painting at ACE whilst also moving to Lakes Entrance in Gippsland, Victoria, which required significant travel to enable her to complete her modules, displaying exceptional commitment to her chosen trade. At the time her teacher, Andrew Makroyiannis, was full of praise: “I have worked closely with Amber over her journey and what really stands out is her passion, commitment and dedication.”
Fast forward to 2020 and we find the past 12 months have been a year to remember. Winning a 2018 Big Brother Movement (BBM) Youth Support scholarship saw Amber spending two months in the USA in 2019.
“My first stop was Julio’s Kustom Studio in Fresno, California, where I spent two weeks learning the basics of everything from pinstriping to laying out tape designs, to Kandies and leafing. Julio had a few projects during the time that I was at the shop, so I was able to help prep and paint other jobs, so we had more time doing the ‘fun stuff’.”
Interestingly, Axalta Australasia’s Training Manager, Paul Polverino, facilitated an introduction to Danny D – Custom Paint and Pinstriping, in Los Angeles where Amber also worked. “Danny is a world-renowned custom painter and has been in the industry for almost 40 years. I have always admired his work and when I had the opportunity to work alongside him, I was over the moon. Danny is a phenomenal artist and such a fantastic teacher.”
The culmination of Amber’s American Adventure was SEMA in Las Vegas last November. “SEMA was the most amazing show I’ve ever seen. There was anything and everything you could imagine. It attracts people from all over the world to showcase their products, builds and show off their capabilities. However, four days just wasn’t enough to cover it all.”
Whilst Amber was away in the US, she had been nominated as an Apprentice of the Year finalist at the 65th Victorian Training Awards. These awards honour the outstanding achievements of Victoria’s top apprentices, students, teachers, employers and training providers from the TAFE and training sector. As well as being a finalist, Amber won the People’s Choice Award, which was decided by online public voting in the lead-up to the prize winning ceremony.
Editor: We first introduced Amber in 2018 and it’s clear that she has made the most of her opportunities, which is indeed the true mark of a Future Leader of the Industry.