Day in the Life: Thomas Payne of Thomas Paints

This East Lothian based artist, who has painted signs for food businesses including Pizza Geeks and The Bear’s Larder, tells us about his hectic day

Published 6th May 2021
Updated 8 th Aug 2023


I wake up around this time, sometimes earlier if one of my daughters is shouting. I look at my cheap smartwatch, to see If I’ve had a good sleep and check my readiness for the day. My wife (Sophie) needs her sleep, so I try to let her have a lie-in.

I chant for 20 minutes each day, religiously. ‘Ivy clean your teeth... Ivy clean your teeth’ - Ivy is my four-year-old daughter. I’ll look at memes online and send them to my friends. Other than that, I don’t look at my phone yet.


I’ll have a shower and get dressed. I don’t make an effort. All my clothes are covered in paint and T-shirts are often too small around my tummy. I do have a nice collection of fleeces though.

I always wear a beanie hat to work, even in summer. I like to earn my second breakfast, so I’ll just have two slices of burnt toast sandwiched with peanut butter as I drive to my workshop (two minutes away), holding them in my teeth.


Time for my morning roll which is usually a tripler: bacon, link sausage and tattie scone (with a touch of ketchup). I’m 90 per cent meat based. I spend a lot of time dreaming about things I’m going to eat and my next meal.


After a morning’s work painting inside the lines, I look in the local area for something to keep me going. I don’t always sign-write in cafes, bars or restaurants; but when I do they often offer me sustenance.

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I always say yes. Bagels from Bross or tasty plates from Fin & Grape. Rosana from 101 Bakery gives me free buns and coffee, in return I paint her signs. It’s a great deal.

I often search out the nearest snack bar; paninis, baguettes, wraps, jackets. Nothing is off the menu.

Last week I ate a Greggs sandwich that I bought the day before, forgot about and left in the van overnight. Still good.


By now the four coffees I’ve already had are starting to wear thin.

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I head home via the Costa Drive-Thru at The Jewel. Ethiopian batch brew or Nescafe instant, by this stage it doesn’t matter.


When I get home I eat bread and butter, sometimes with more peanut butter or cheese. I eat my daughters’ leftover dinner and crack open a bottle of beer.

Then it’s bath time for the girls whilst preparing dinner for myself and Sophie. Sometimes we’re too tired to cook properly and will eat chocolate instead.


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In the evening, I’ll do two hours of admin, emails and design work with the telly on in the background.

I almost solely watch Quest TV programming; The Repair Shop, Salvage Hunters and American Pickers.


I aim to go to bed by now. If I get seven hours sleep I’ll be lucky and so will my sleep tracker.

Sometimes I’m woken in the night because my youngest needs a nappy change or has done a mega sick all over herself. When Sophie has settled her again, I have the space to dream.

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