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Women in Paint™

President | Contemporary Surface Solutions, LLC

Gillian Nielsen - pro painter


Gillian Nielsen is considered an industry veteran when it comes to professional painting. With over 35 years of experience under her belt, she understands the true meaning of “work hard and you’ll succeed.” But it wasn’t always an easy road navigating a predominantly male industry. Gillian began her career in residential painting at the age of 20 and was quickly drawn to the hustle and bustle of working in the skilled trades. As one of few women in the industry, she faced resistance on the job but was determined to prove her place. In fact, by the age of 22, she became San Diego’s first woman commercial foreperson and quickly became a sought-after painter.


If you haven’t already realized, Gillian is not one to be discouraged. Rather, she approaches every opportunity as a way to grow and develop her skills rather than set her back, taking on various roles throughout her career from painter to estimator to vice president. These experiences allowed her to hone her expertise and eventually position her to start a painting business.


In 2017, Gillian accomplished what many dream of – owning and operating her own business. She combined her wealth of knowledge and passion for paint and started Contemporary Surface Solutions, LLC, a first-generation women-owned full-service paint contracting company in San Diego specializing in fabric wrapped panels, architectural films, and wallcoverings.


Gillian Nielsen of Contemporary Surface Solutions with her crew


Gillian’s story serves as a promising reminder that through hard work and determination, dreams can be realized. And her story doesn’t stop here – Gillian is committed to mentoring young women in the industry and employs many woman painters at her company.


I want to inspire other women to pursue their dreams, break down barriers, and pave the way for other women to follow,” Gillian says.


Take one look at her on the job and it’s evident her passion and commitment shine with every project she takes on. Gillian continues to be well-recognized and celebrated in the industry by her clients for her leadership, honesty and loyalty and looks forward to what the future holds.


To learn more about Women in PaintTM and hear other professional women painters’ stories, visit


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