Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Into The Customer's Head



If you are thinking about using your airbrush to make money, chances are you'll be working with customers. Granted, some folks will be using the airbrush to create original designs they hope to sell, but those of the custom world don't have that luxury. And yes, after working with some difficult customers, it really does seem like a luxury.
Don't get me wrong. The customer/custom painter relationship can be a great thing. Much like tattooing, you are making someone's personal vision come to life while adding your own personal touch. In some cases, which are rare and rewarding, you'll get the holy grail of customers: the man or woman that says "Do your thing!" I pray every time I get a phone call that this is who is calling. A person that not only trusts your abilities and judgment but also is open to new things. I got into this business to work with people like that. To take what I learn from them and make something truly unique and personal. It's a wonderful thing.
On the flip side there are those that may have a different way of communicating what they think they want. I say this because often times the customer may be talking in concepts rather than in realities. "Give me a sky with clouds," could mean "Match the gray and white of my truck to what I just said even if it doesn't work". I use this as an example because I recently had a customer ask for a sky, clouds, a portrait of his mother, some doves, and his mother's name. After finishing the piece he said he hadn't wanted the blue. Obviously, there was some sort of communication error on both our parts. He mistakenly thought a sky wouldn't be blue and I mistakenly took his saying he wanted a sky to mean he wanted blue.
All of this could have been avoided had I taken the time to work up some renderings. I have some Photoshop skills at my disposal and I could have made a quick mock up of what he was asking for to see if this was in the right direction. I also work in a shop with a gentlemen who is the owner/operator and has been the face of the shop longer than I have, so communication went from the owner, to him, to me last. Also the customer seemed reluctant to make the trip to see any progress and only saw the work in photos. He, of course, liked the photos but didn't like the finished product. Why? Because I didn't get inside the guys head. I didn't work harder to understand what it was he thought he would get and to communicate what it was I was actually going to be doing.
Yes, bottom line - once in a while you get someone who wears their ideas on their sleeves, knows what they want but also knows you will do your own thing when it comes time to lay some paint. But more often than not you will get a customer that has a vision but isn't sure how to explain it. Someone specific who may not be able to explain the specifics of what he or she wants. I've said this before and don't seem to follow my own advice, but I have to say it again: always draw up a sketch for customers of this nature. Bring them a long for the ride and let them see what is going on so that any changes that need to be made can be made early. Don't rely on third party cell phone photos to convey what is going on. Be the guy the customer deals with and make sure everyone is on the same page. This isn't the first time I've been in a situation where the customer gave me what they wanted but upon seeing the final result decided that I was no where near what they'd requested. It's discouraging but there are lessons to be learned from it and that's what is important. Learn from these mistakes and you'll be golden.

Today's Video of the Post will be from Vl9153x:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finally, Some Projects

Yesterday I got the chance to get started on a new project at work. Of course, I have also been horribly sick so I didn't get as much work done as I'd wanted to. It would figure that I finally get a project in the doors and I'm too sick to get it out. I'm a trooper though and put in a few hours today as well.
What is really important is that I am still learning. Right now I am learning how to use the spray gun to do full paint. I am also learning that while the airbrush came naturally to me, this does not. In fact, I'm terrible at it. I can handle prep and sanding, but there is something about mixing paint and spraying that scares the hell out of me. I mixed this nice white and pearl basecoat and ended up putting it on so wet that it ran. Oh did it run. I, of course, go to go through and sand all the runs down so I could come back in and respray everything. Lesson learned for sure.
But I got a nice pearl blue base down and it is ready for me to come in with some airbrushing. The work is being done on the back doors of a Suburban. On one door will be the word Faith and the other a series of doves flying past a portrait of the owner's mom (Faith was her name). It's a memorial piece set over a blue sky. The rest of the truck is painted with a scallop design that I will incorporate into a sort of frame around the whole piece. I'm looking forward to moving it along. The owner also has a bike he wants to bring down depending on how this turns out, so that should mean more work. More work is always a good thing.

Todays Video of the Post is from my buddy: CB Graphics

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Wonders of Commission Work

I have been in Pittsburgh now for about a month and a half. In fact, today it will be exactly a month and a half. I want to say that things are going exactly how I thought they would, but that isn't entirely true. Money has been tight. Everyone seems to have chosen now to pull those purse strings up. But having found some determination between here and there I'm sticking it out. There is a lot that can be done in this town but for now the work has dried up. We've done what we could but for the most part, there just isn't anything coming our way.
There are, however, some pretty big shows coming up. One of which is the World of Wheels, now celebrating its 50th year anniversary. This is a make or break show, offering trophies in multiple categories and recognition amongst the car and bike enthusiasts in the area that they are held. I wasn't here for the one last year and I am hoping that I will have some projects under my belt so I can have something to enter. I'm not really interested in the fame of it, but there is a certain allure to having someone present a trophy to me. That potential for a trophy sounds even sweeter when considering the fact I've been living off ramen and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in order to make this thing work.
Before moving I had no idea that I would be dealing with the amount of stress I have been. Not the stress of making this airbrush thing work, or the stress of putting out a good product. But the stress of actually being able to survive. I know things will work out and I'll look back and be able to say it was all worth it. But at the moment that doesn't do anything for my stress. I guess this sort of thing builds character and apparently you can never have too much of that.

Today's Video of the Post is brought to you by: http://www.youtube.com/user/purejaime

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Da Burgh and Gucci Mane

I've been in Pittsburgh now for about a month and though I have only really worked on one actual project, I have had the chance to get some stuff ready for various shows around town. I got here late in the season so they've just been little affairs. The next one is tomorrow at the Monroeville Convention center (that's near the Monroeville mall for you zombie fans) and is for a rap concert by Gucci Mane. For those unfamiliar, he is a southern rap artist that is probably most famous for his song 'Wasted'. I'm not that big of a rap fan but I've still heard the song and the artist, which means his name has been around for a while. I thought it would be a good idea to do a little tribute piece of the artist performing while we did our own performance. I went outside the box on this one. I used some plexi-glass, some black primer on the back, and went to town with the black and white on the portrait. I thought I'd play around with his name a little but I didn't really have a plan until I got the name on there. I started airbrushing some white in there and let the wheels turn. That's when I got the idea for some heavy flake. I did a base of small gold flake and put a nice silver flake down the center. It still looked a little plain so I got out the heavy flake and put individual ones right down the center like they were diamonds. I the sunlight this thing is too hard to look at. Under in house lighting it looks like you could wear the thing. I may not be a big fan of rap, but I'm a fan of this look. Keep posted for more.

Today's Video of the Post is brought to you by AirbrushingSchool:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finally in Pittsburgh

I finally arrived in Pittsburgh and everything seems to be going well so far. This is a pretty decent city with a lot of airbrush opportunities. There is an event this Friday that should really showcase our styles and get a good name for ourselves.
I came here to work with another airbrush artist who also does the custom work. He is an amazing talent but the most surprising thing about it is that he is color blind. Somehow he's able to work with color on a pretty impressive level. It has definitely inspired me to try harder and one up myself.
It's been a crazy last couple of weeks and I haven't really had the chance to take many pictures of the work I have done or the shop, but they are coming. Soon I'll have to get some work of what Jason can do and maybe a little step-by-step for those that might be interested in learning some things that might be done outside the box due to the fact that he's color blind.
Lots going on and lots more to come.

Today's Video of the Post is brought to you by: anjovaman



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pittsburgh

I have my plane ticket booked. That, for some reason, was the most nerve wracking part. Lots of what if's coming into play. I honestly am just excited to get there and get started. To really knuckle down and get some serious experience under my belt. I'll be excited to be able to get back to posting about other artists and less "this is what I am doing". Sure, that's good stuff to the 4 readers I have, but there's so much to airbrushing that needs to be shared. I hate spot lights...
The east coast is a different creature all together. There's a lot I will have to figure out and get used to. I'm a one step at a time type of guy and I'm not sure that fits in so well over there. But, I also know that I'll be fairly close to some outstanding artists and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to doing some interviews, etc on some of the little known but should be knowns. This whole thing is really just one step further in my quest to paint the planet.

Todays Video of the Post is brought to you by me, cause it's freaking late and I'm tired:
Oldie, but a goody...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pittsburgh? Pensyltucky? WTF?

So I got a job offer in Pittsburgh. Some folks that read this may remember me talking about this a while back. Well, the job is still on the table many months later. More than that, the job is just as good. How good? Well good enough that I'll be moving there sometime in the next few weeks.
The **** you say!
Well, these things happen. The reasons for going are many and varied, but why don't I talk about the ones that may apply to what this blog is about: airbrushing.
The job means that I would be making money while I furthered my career. It also means learning from someone who has been around for a while and has some tricks up his sleeve. Sure, it's Pittsburgh and who the hell is in Pittsburgh airbrushing? Well, that's the point really. Not many.
There is a lot of opportunity for me there, a lot of chances and a lot of things that could go wrong. Sink or swim sort of thing, and for some reason I do well in those situations if I put my mind to it. I will have to work for my food but I will have to do it with airbrush in hand. Have airbrush, will travel.

Today's Video of the Post belongs to: ArtLoversStudio18

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 4th at Latus Harley-Davidson




I had the good pleasure to be invited along to this event out at Latus Harley-Davidson for the weekend of the 4th. The event was all about Jason and Garage 31 doing some airbrush tattoos but he was down with me putting up some of my work for people to see. Overall the event went really well. Set up wasn't too bad, nothing was destroyed, and we had a lot of fun. There weren't as many people as there were last year, from what I was told, but to me it went really well. They had the Wall of Death there, which was incredible all on it's own,
as well as plenty of bikes, plenty of food, and plenty of people wanting airbrush tattoos. I also had the pleasure to meet Marshall Parks an extremely talented artist who is pushing the limits of Auto Air paints on a regular basis. I'll be writing more on him in another post.

I wanted to talk a little more about airbrush tattoos because that was the focus on the event. I fell in love with this stuff. It was great interacting with people, I can tell that there is a little bit of extra cash to be made during down times, and it was something new. The final result actually looked pretty close to a real tattoo and it was easy enough to do some freehand airbrushing on everything from arms to heads.
The paint we used was Body of Art by Temptu. It was an 8 oz bottle and ran around $34. We also, through out two days of airbrushery, didn't even hit the halfway mark (and we didn't just keep the airbrushing to skin). It's an alcohol based paint and sprays a little on the thick side, but adding a little rubbing alcohol to it seemed to loosen it up quite a bit. We were using the Iwata Eclipse CS. One thing I did notice was that if the paint sat for more than 20 minutes it would separate. It didn't take much more than a couple swishes with the cup to get it mixed up again, but we did burn through some ink before we knew it was happening.
We stuck to some simple stencils that Jason had put together but every now and then we would do some freehanding on ourselves to draw attention.

The process was pretty simple. Apply some rubbing alcohol with some cotton swabs to get rid of any oils. Dry that area with the airbrush (this also gets the person receiving the tattoo comfortable with the feeling of air on their skin), lay down the tattoo, then put some baby powder over it. As long as the person doesn't scrub heavy in the shower the tattoo will stay a couple days.
So now I'll be looking into making something like this happen. It's great fun and it will get my work out there while earning me a little extra money. Just one more thing I can do with my airbrush.

Today's Video of the Post is coming to you from Kustom Shop

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The First Event




A while back I talked about a bike I did for a friend. Seeing how that paint job effected him was reward enough but then I was blessed to have him run around town spouting off great things about me and showing my work to anyone who would look. That single bike has made a lot possible and one of those things was Oak Grove Chopper's Anniversary that I was invited to June 26th. What made it amazing was they invited me to come out there for this for free. This was how it went:

Note: Before even going into the event, my wife was smart enough to get me to write down a game plan. I, being the hardheaded dork that I am, fought her on it but in the end (and as almost always) she was right. Even though there really wasn't a lot to consider, getting the ideas out there really made for a great set up and break down of the entire event.

Setting up was easy enough, but that had more to do with communicating with the people in charge of the event. I made sure I found anyone who could tell me the person in charge. In this case everyone in charge was family and they were all pretty much on the same page. I have no doubts that this will not be the case every time, but thankfully my first event was with a great group of people. I brought a ton of stuff, including my compressor and substrates. I'd planned on putting some outlines down so I could just airbrush but that didn't really happen. That actually worked out great because a lot of people ended up wanting to talk to me.

Once set up it was almost immediate that I had people asking me for more information. I brought a book to write down any strong leads. I also made sure that anyone who looked had to take a card. It didn't matter if they kept it or not, it was the fact they took it. I also made sure that if I caught someone taking a card I would ask them if they were interested in getting some work done. If they talked to me, even for a moment, I made sure to get their name and shake hands. I could tell this really resonated with people and made it obvious that they were important to me.

Having my wife there to help really made a difference. Though she wasn't there for all of it, she was there for enough of it. This let me get up and take a look at the bikes in question and it allowed me to do some airbrushing. Doing the demos really got people's attention and was sort of a way for them to see the work in real life. I also made sure I had a lot of different types of artwork to show off. Not just styles but on different surfaces. Even though I showed a helmet and a wide range of items, I was asked if I could do tanks - which tells me I need to do a half tank to bring along.

Luckily I had a piece done before I went. It was a huge piece of Brando from the Godfather that I had done to see if I could do a piece quickly. They were having a raffle and I was able to donate the piece to that. It made me feel good and ensured that I will probably be invited back. Also, it got my work on someones wall.

There were plenty of things to work on in this, but none of them were major. A game plan and plenty of work to show were what made it a success. Interacting with people, even those that didn't seem too interested, made sure that at the very least my name would get out there. I was able to meet a great group of bikers that turned out to be incredibly generous and kind - and as thankful for me being there as I was for having been invited.

Here's the bottom line. That single, 8 hour day got me more strong leads than the last 6 months of Craigslist posting have. People saw my work in person. They met me and I was able to talk to them. People who thought they couldn't afford me are signed up for a second consultation. People will remember, at the very least, that there was this guy out there airbrushing - which means that maybe they will tell their friends about me. All-in-all this was so much more than a success, it was another reason why I do this at all.

Today's Video of the Post is Brought to you by: ExpertVillage

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Website

It's official, I am official. At least, that's what it feels like that it means. The site is pretty straight forward and very user friendly. It is also up just in time since I put it on a bunch of business cards I plan on handing out to everyone and anyone who is within hand reach. One step closer to painting everything in the world. Take a look at it:

Today's Video of the Post comes from Broken Puppet

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Garage 31

During the whole Custom Bagger fiasco, things were looking a little grim. It was my first big project and my first big break (or at least, I felt like it was). Things went horribly wrong and though it looks like, for the most part, it has all worked out, it was a trying moment for me and my family. Granted I didn't feel like giving up, but I wasn't really feeling like I had this in the bag. My wife was able to remind me that good things always come from bad and that it was better that it happened now.
And sure enough, that turned out to be true. I received a phone call from a local airbrush artist who was interested in building a connection. I'd heard the name Jason Prouty of Garage 31 before and had planned on calling him myself, but just didn't feel that I was ready. He beat me to it and I was humbled by the message he left. He'd seen the work and felt that I did an excellent job. A fellow artist, the name around my town in the airbrush field, called to tell me that. It was, in some ways, a pivotal moment for me. Not so much that I was getting a call from a completely ego free airbrush artist doing what I am working towards doing, but that we had the same intentions in mind. It is obvious that there is a lot I can learn from a guy who has been making a living off quality artwork in the Portland area. It was great to hear that I even have something to bring to the table even though I'm just a guy doing this out of an apartment.
There is also the fact that there really just isn't anyone else in the Portland area doing this. It's a clean slate and there is a lot of potential. From classes to collaborations to an airbrush supply store front.
So basically - my wife was right. Again. All of this is possible. It was just one bad experience and from that experience I was able to meet a really cool, down to earth artist after the same things I am. Not fame and fortune, but just enough to put food on the table and live a comfortable life off the artwork we create. Good times.
And if you missed the link above, then you really need to check out Garage 31. Lots of great work on there.

The Video of the Post today is brought to you by http://www.youtube.com/user/evathecrew

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Logo's and Stuff

I thought it was time I made something that would act as a logo. I thought it was important to go with something that didn't just advertise Top Hat Painter, and rather my future goal of starting The Portland Airbrush Company. Just a simple design for now that I think will keep build some sort of brand recognition. That, and it gives me an excuse to work on my Photoshopping.

Photobucket

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lesson Learned

So the custom bagger is done. I am happy with the overall out come and proud of my work. I feel I did a great job with what I had and that it is a good representation of the type of artist I am and wish to be. So imagine my surprise when I get a phone call from one of the people involved cursing up a storm telling me it was garbage.
This was on my voice mail. There were a few "S" bombs, a few "F" bombs, a little emotion. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the level of disrespect going down. I also have to say I was pretty pissed myself and had to calm down before calling him back. Don't like the work? Fine, but don't leave a message full of cursing and complaining. I was mad enough I had to go get myself a cigarette and calm down.
Two cigarette's later, I gave the guy a call back. Not too surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of cursing going on when I called, but that is the way of the world now days. I was told that it wasn't what we talked about. The work didn't contain any of the things we talked about. There wasn't any of the type of work we agreed on. Here is what we talked about: Affliction styled work, more resembling tattoo inspired design. Chains, skulls, and some stone work. After doing some research, I found that affliction work is mostly based on the skull with wings. After looking at the guys website, I saw previous bikes that had been airbrushed with chains, ribbons, skulls with piercings, and smoke.
You can see here what I put on. Skulls, chains, piercings, skulls with wings, stone, smoke, and even some pain in my butt ribbon. You can imagine how confused I was to learn that the person who had called had only seen a few PICTURES of two of the parts. This was enough for him to call me and shoot some curse words my way.
To top it off, the guy who hired me was hired by another guy to build the bike. This other guy just showed up, and also doesn't like the work. They all, to set the record straight, feel the quality of the work is fine, it's the actual design they don't like. This other guy, apparently, has a say in the final project, but I never met him.
I don't have to paint a picture of just what is wrong with this scenario. Aside from an overall feeling of being dicked around, I also feel as if this whole project was a disaster from the get go. That I should have seen this from the start. When they called me, and called me, and called me to make a decision on whether I can do this, I answered. When I didn't hear anything for 3 weeks after multiple messages, I should have seen it coming. Looking back it is feeling like they were holding out for the artist that they originally had in mind. At this point, I really would have been fine with that.
The bottom line is, there still is not a solid answer as to if I am going to get paid my final amount. There is, however, the feeling that the work will stay on there, that the bike will get finished, and that the bike will sell. In which case, that's just some bullshivick.
More or less, this is a lesson learned. Contracts, contracts, contracts. Always contact the people involved, making sure that communication is built up between all parties. Leave no room for surprises. Provide sketches and even practice plates with what you are going after. May seem like a lot of work, but in the end it'll save some major grief. Just make sure all the practice panels are on items that can be hung or sold later and you're golden.
Lessons learned.

*Update*
After being unable to get in touch with the guy here in Portland, I called the guy in Arizona. After being cursed at again, I told the guy that there wasn't any reason to be talking like that. His adult and professional response was "Well how about this, why don't you go fuck yourself you little punk". I previously had his name on here, but I really don't think it's right to do. Regardless of his personality he does good work.

Today's Video of the Post comes from 3D Head Custom Paint

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's Been a While


I've been busy. School has been sucking me dry and on top of that I was blessed with a huge Custom Bagger project. Of course I bit off more than I could chew, which is just in my nature, but more than that, the paint was giving me problems. I ran into some issues I'd never ran into before and had some difficulty overcoming them. There were quite a few sudden blow outs that almost resulted in a suicidal artist, but I pushed through it, came up with some clever fixes and made due.
Good for me.
Other than that, it's been a lot of vacation time before the big summer crunch of getting my name out there. I have shows and events to schedule myself into. I also, with some luck, will have some business tossed my way after this bagger starts making the local circuits. It's all really exciting. And to think I almost gave this up to move to Pittsburgh where I would have had a job doing this sort of thing...
Right, I didn't post that. Busy, remember? Someone contacted me from Pittsburgh about moving out there and airbrushing. It sounded great, in fact, it sounded incredible. But I live in Portland Oregon, quite the trip away, and I couldn't just pick up and move for something that was still a little unsure. Theres a lot going on for me here. Of course, it requires that I bust ass and never slow down, but it's there. So, after much talking with the misses, we decided it'd be best to start working towards my own shop. Nothing unrealistic this time either. Just me in a place airbrushing. No special permits needed because I'd be spraying well under the VOC regulations, no crazy equipment needs because it'll be easy to ventilate just airbrush. A van for transport and on site work and a nice rack set up so nothing goes wrong. It's possible. It may have it's own problems that will be hard to over come, but it's a start. It's a good start. It's possible.

Here is a little of what I got done:




Overall, I'm happy with it. I used my imagination to come up with what I feel are some fairly unique ideas on some old styles. I created some interesting designs that fit the flow of the bike and carried a theme throughout. That was one of my biggest fears, that I wouldn't be able to design something. Airbrushing doesn't seem to be a problem for me, but coming up with the flow and composition does. Enjoy!

Todays Video of the Post comes from: Daniel Powers

Friday, April 30, 2010

Airbrushists Unit! Support The Troops With Your Airbrush Skills

I found something interesting while wondering around my favorite airbrush forum site (www.theairbrushforum.com). It looks like the buys and girls over there have gotten together to create a banner for the troops. The idea is pretty simple: a canvas banner was made and is sent to the next airbrushist on the list. You get 3 days to work on it and it comes with some supplies to help out (but the leftovers are passed on to the next person as well).
It all started with a simple idea that turned into a real event, as most things do over there, and now the banner is making it's rounds one more time. The final stop on it's list will be the hands of Tony D, the main guy behind www.airbrushtricks.com and those YouTube videos with the same name. He's serving overseas and will make sure the banner ends up in the right hands. At this time the airbrushing part of things is only available to those who have signed up on the forum and have at least 20 posts. But support comes in all shapes and sizes, so I imagine there will other things like this in the future. This isn't about politics, it's about supporting the troops - very much different things.
If you are interested in finding out more about this great event, go to:http://www.united.primocustoms.com/home

Todays Video of the Post is brought to you by:http://www.youtube.com/user/danielchingworks

Monday, April 26, 2010

Try Before You Buy

I have the idea in my head that everyone should airbrush. At the very least, everyone should try and airbrush. This is, of course, my own opinion, but it's one that I feel strongly about. Here are some of my reasons:
The more people that continue to explore this incredible tool, the more exposure the art gets over all.
The more exposure it gets, the more credibility it builds.
The more credibility it builds, the larger the over all community gets.
Rinse, wash, repeat.
I'm not too worried about the airbrush becoming considered fine art because then there would be a lot more rules and a lot more ego, but I do enjoy the idea of more people becoming interested in the airbrush.
To that end, I have decided to take airbrushing to the greater public. I started with my YouTube videos. I am on the forums, helping and learning. But I realized that there are still a lot of people that want to try this airbrush thing out but are a little scared by the amount of money required to give it a shot, not knowing if they will like it. Sure, there are introductory classes in some places, by not my places. So I thought, why not pack up my airbrush equipment and offer to bring it to people who are interested? I put up a little Craigslist post and sure enough, someone was interested.
Granted it's just one person, but then I got to thinking, how many airbrush artist are out there that could do the same thing? What I'm offering is pretty simple. I'll bring my equipment, set it up, show them how it works, and leave them with a list of things they will need if they want to get the stuff themselves. I'll even let them give it a shot so they can have an idea of just how this whole airbrush thing works. Sounds pretty simple. I'm charging $40 to cover over all supplies, gas, and a little extra for my time (I'm offering between an hour and two hours). If they live too far away, I ask for a little extra gas money. Seems pretty fair to me, and to the person that was interested.
So I guess the only question now is to all those airbrushists that might be reading this. Why haven't you posted something on Craigslist? How are we going to paint the planet if there aren't more people painting said planet? You're still reading this?

Todays Video of the Post comes from Daniel Powers:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Waterborne Automotive Paint

I have only a glimpse at the moment, but it's looking like the future of paint is in waterborne paint. PPG seems to be on the American forefront in this evolution towards a cleaner paint system for automotives. Though not the first company to come out with a system of paint that is waterborne (waterborne = small amount of solvent, waterbase = pure waterbase like acrylic), they seem to be the first to really follow through with the use in collision repair. Their dedication to waterborne paint doesn't stop with collision repair because they are extending their expertise into custom paint.
Nothing new, waterborne paints have been scoffed at for years in custom paint circles as being: too hard to spray, too expensive, not lightfast, etc. PPG seems ready to change that. Some of the benefits of working with water: Their paint comes ready to mix without the need of a mixing machine. They have been working with gun manufacturers to create the best equipment to handle working with water. Super fast dry times that can dry even faster with simple forced air, rather than the need for UV lights or bake booths. Working with water means no harmful solvents or dangerous chemicals (since they also have waterborne clearcoats, primers, and sealers). Lower VOC means less regulations to worry about when starting your own shop.
Lowrider magazine recently featured PPG in one of their latest issues showcasing what their candy paint's are capable of. The custom paint forums are all a buzz over the eventual change.
Custom airbrush artists have been using waterborne and waterbased paint for quite some time. It's low VOC's work well with many set ups and don't require any special equipment. Auto Air has set the standard in how waterbased paint should be handled but still struggles to gain proper respect in the automotive paint circles. It's seen as an amateur paint system, something for beginners or the less than serious airbrush artist. Createx heard this and came out with their Wicked line of airbrush paint called Wicked.
With PPG and other companies perfecting this same method of delivering paint, it is only a matter of time before waterborne is going to take over the industry. Stricter guidelines, more environmentally conscious customers, and higher demand in custom paint leads this airbrush artist to believe that it would be a good idea to get on board now. Stay tuned for more information about waterborne paints.

Today's Video of the Post brought to you from these guys: Charley Hutton and PPG

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trompe L'oeil (or Faux, or FX, or Whatever)

Trompe L'oeil (pronounced nothing like it is spelled, truh-ohmp low-ee) is a French word that means something close to "trick the eye". Though most people may not know what it is, they have probably seen it. Most airbrush artists, or even the artists to be, have actually done this type of art and didn't know it. Ever airbrush a drop shadow? How about some fake metal or some faux rust? What about that pop rivet? That's trompe l'oeil. See, you're a sophisticated artist and you didn't even know it.
I have always been a huge fan of this type of hard to spell artwork and it was actually one of the first things I tried with an airbrush. Sure wish I had THAT picture. In any event, I loved the idea of painting something so real that when someone walked up to it, they tried to touch it. I've done this with nails, even a whole, full sized clip board. There is just something close to a magic trick involved in it and to this day I work at perfecting it.
Most artists use paint brushes and a wide range of paints and mediums to get the effects that I feel a single, simple squirt of an airbrush can achieve. What makes this difficult to master is the fact that, in a lot of ways, our eyes are hard to trick. It takes quite a bit of mastery to get those shadows to look just right. To get that blend to be just so. To get that color to be perfect. I admit, there are some instances where the brush works a little better than the airbrush. What I personally think is that these two tools should work together to make the perfect trompe l'oeil.
Now the next time you are preparing some drop shadows under some metal tears on a motorcycle tank, you can sound all Zima drinker like by calling it trompe l'oeil. Tell them I said it was ok.

Todays Video of the Post comes from this guy:http://www.youtube.com/user/AirbrushTricks

Monday, April 12, 2010

Busy Week


It's been a busy week for me. I finally got Shane's bike done. Here are some pictures:

It was my first time ever working this extensively on a mural and I am really happy with how it turned out. I was able to come up with a large portion of it out of my head (like the work done on the front fender just above this) and that tells me that my abilities are growing. I was worried about the clear coat, since he wanted it to be more flat than gloss, but this turned out to actually make it easier to see the art work. I really can't wait to see this thing together.

I had some people interested in some trompe l'oeil, or faux, or FX or whatever you choose to call them, so I decided to do a quick test panel of some simple and fast FX that I can do to sort of showcase what is possible. I thought it would be a good idea to make a video but here are some pictures as well:



And last but not least, here is a little something I like to call Zombie Girl. I actually got this picture off of Deviant Art from this guy. I did this because I wanted to and that felt great. There wasn't any end purpose for it, only to paint it and that just doesn't really happen all that often. This piece took about 8 hours all together. I hand drew the initial sketch, which is why the eyes are a little off, but I fixed that by making her eye so tasty. I have some projects in the works and figure as long as I keep my thumb on the trigger, I am bound to make this thing happen.
Today's Video of the Post is from Me

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Starting a Shop

I am working on the basics of starting my own shop. Working with someone else is great and I am learning a lot. It's better than school because I'm sort of thrown in, sink or swim and I don't have any debt or school grades to worry about. What I am noticing is that I have some major choices to make. I can start a shop from scratch, get the booth, offer full custom paint on motorcycles etc, or I can just focus on airbrushing.
Starting the shop sounds great. I would be my own boss, sort of do my own thing, and not have to rely on many people to get my product out. If I need body work I can do it my self or, if demand demands it, hire someone on the side. I would be in charge of my deadlines and not have to worry about someone else giving me a good product that I could airbrush on. The downside is that it's freaking expensive. At best, I can get away with starting a shop with around $10,000. That's with a half assed, open faced booth that I would rig up to be fully enclosed and fire safe. At worse, I'm looking at something closer to $20,000 with a full sized booth and all the fixings. That is not really including rent and the upstart materials needed to offer onsite airbrush supplies. The lottery is out of the question and I'm a ways off from winning the lottery, so that brings me to my other option:
Focusing on the airbrush. This is what I love to do. This is the part I actually want to do. You can save all that other stuff about the primer and bondo and filler and sanding and sanding. What this would mean though is that I would have to work with an existing shop, rely on their ability to fit in my projects as they come, and consistently turn out a good product. That makes my hair stand up on end. Right now, I paint and prep all my work, I then transport it to my apartment where I airbrush it. I have already experienced the deep, gut wrenching pain of seeing something wrong happen during transport and can only imagine what it would be like to worry about each and every project. One benefit is, I wouldn't have to worry about VOC levels or having the paint mix room or having the government check my shop for fire regulatory conditions. Plus, there wouldn't be a need for a $4,000 paint booth because I could just properly ventilate the room I paint in. Sounds great, but it would be less of a guarantee to my customers, which I really don't like the sound of.
There really isn't much of a choice of which one I want to do. But, there is a choice as to which one is actually possible. There is still a lot I need to learn to operate my own spray shop, but I am learning it. There is also quite a bit of money to be found, though I am finding places that sell certain things for less. At the moment I am looking at the best equipment I can find but I am also looking at what would work just as good. I'm finding out a lot about what I need and I am testing my fortitude and willingness to go forward with this. This will happen, though I am seeing that it will take a little longer than tomorrow. Sucks, but I'll deal with it.

Todays Video of The Post is from Ed Hubbs and his airbrush tutoring:



Monday, April 5, 2010

Airbrush Forums: A Directory of Sorts

As a busy artist, I don't really get much time for human interaction. If I'm lucky, I'll get a chance to watch some TV with my wife before heading to bed. So, how do I interact with other airbrush artists? Why, I go to the forums! Which is handy, since that what this post is about. Below I talk about the different airbrush related forums I have been to, and the ones I keep going back to. Keep in mind, these are airbrush forums, but for the most part they lean towards custom paint.

This is the forum page to the informative Airbrush Tricks website that Tony D spear heads. I found this forum while watching some of the videos he's put on YouTube and haven't looked back. I frequent this one the most as it seems to have the largest group of active members and has a real sense of community. Tony D is off in Afghanistan but the forum is in good hands with SgtM, Jason Jones, and Primo Customs.
Sign up is free and the site offers some gallery space. It's hosted by vBulletin and offers easy to use coding. The admin's are fair and the people are great. Almost instant feedback to all new artists. They also have airbrush contests!

This forum doesn't really come up with the searches and was another one I found on accident. It has some talent in there, if they show up. Another site that uses vBulletin, it's only real failing is that it doesn't seem to have many active members. I guess they come and go in waves. Free sign up, easy to use, decent admin's, and a weekly artshow.

This site has a really odd way of signing you up. It takes you to a separate portal that can be a bit confusing. After the initial set up, the site is semi-easy to use. Because it has a different forum hosting, those that are used to vBulletin might have some trouble here. Also, the main admin is very exact in how things should be posted and those that are new should definitely follow the rules for new users. I think that the picky admin may be hurting the site because it also has a lack of active members. They also have contests though and are worth checking out.

Not to be confused with the Airbrush Tech above, this forum is the baby of Don Johnson who runs Airbrush Technique magazine. I've only had the chance to take a look at a few issues of the magazine and found it to be a decent rag (with a lot, LOT, less ads than Airbrush Action). The forum is great, if it can stay on the same website (there is another forum that is similar called How To Airbrush which is their sister site and offers articles and tutorials not seen on the Airbrush Technique site) and there is a lot of information on there. I have had some problems logging in and at one point they mentioned only being able to use the site if you subscribe to the magazine, but I just logged in and posted, so this much not be the case. They offer contests, but more than that, they offer artists the chance to enter work into either their online or physical magazine.

This was the first forum I heard about before I heard about anything airbrush related on the web. It's Craig Farser's little baby and offers a great group of pro artists. I felt that as a new comer to the website, I was sort of left in the dust. I go back once in a while, and have found that it has a huge selection of active members, but there is just something off to me. I went into a post about starting a custom shop and ran into some political rants that I really didn't need. For the most part though, folks are welcome and again, the site uses the vBulletin system that seems to be the most popular way of running a forum.

The new guys on the block, this site is put together by Daniel Powers with the help of some other incredible artists such as Dennis Mathewson and Mike Lavallee. This is a two part site, with the main part focusing on gallery submissions and videos. Gallery inclusion is difficult because you can only include one, resized photo at a time, but these photos go into a pool you can then use in any project (what actually gets posted for the world to see). These projects are super easy to navigate and look great though. The forum side is the same as any vBulletin forum and though there aren't many people populating it as of now, it is really very new. There is a lot of potential for the site to really take off.

This site is similar to Airbrush Hub in that it is mostly a gallery posting with user interface, it also has a forum. The forum is pretty well dead (I saw some postings that were from 2008 on the main page of the thread), but the gallery seems to have some serious life. One of my photo postings got 387 views in about a month. It's an interesting site with little life, but a good place to get your name added to search optimization.

I have been on this forum site only a few times and found that there was a lot petty drama on it. That could explain why it got the nickname Airbrush.comedy. BearAir, however, is a great company to order products from and I can say I have never had a problem with their service.

I have just discovered this site and it seems that it is mostly devoted to paint, rather than straight airbrushing. Though there seems to be room for airbrushing in there, it is not a focus of the site.

So that's my list. There might be some other forums out there, but these seem to be the ones that show up the most. If you have questions, there be the places that you might find the answers. If you have answers, don't be a douche - share that knowledge! More than that, get your name out there. There are some great people to be met and some great people to give you honest feedback on your stuff.

Paint the planet, one forum at a time.

Today's Video of the Post comes from Tuff City Styles

Saturday, April 3, 2010

True Fire And Why It's So Popular

My wife was telling me a story about how she was talking to someone about how I was an airbrush artist. She told this lady, who was at least into her 60's, that I painted on bikes and helmets. What she asked was "does he do fire?" This blew me away! People who aren't even into cars know about True Fire and that made me do some thinking. Why is it so popular and is it just a fad?
Mike Lavallee owns True Fire. He should, he's worked his little hunter's ass off to get there. I recently did a nice trek through the internet looking for any information I could find about the man behind the fire and really didn't find anything too detailed. I remember seeing his special on TLC or Discovery, where he painted a Ford coupe with his then, unique style. What I remember the most from that show was that he talked about the helicopter he'd flamed out. The neighbors thought it was on fire and called the fire department.
Then he was on Monster Garage. Then he got in good with Chip Foose. Then EVERYONE wanted something to do with True Fire. What that meant was Mike couldn't keep up with demand so he started putting out DVD's to teach people how to create his True Fire for themselves. He even got some stencils made by stencil God's Artool to go along with them.
What is odd is that there are some guys out there that do them better, but you'd never know there name. Why? Because Mike Lavallee was smart about it and attached his name to it while he could. He may have stumbled upon it while airbrushing something else, but he knew it wsa going to be hot (seriously, did you not see that coming?). Even when someone mimics his style, people still refer to it as Mike Lavallee True Fire. People still want his fire, because it's HIS fire.
What makes it so unique as custom paint is that, for the most part, it doesn't take any prep. I don't mean that you don't have to prep the surface. What I mean is that you don't have to do any special paint layouts. There is now pounce wheel to get them perfect on both sides like old school flames. You can sketch some basics out, but you don't really have to. After a while, you get a good feel for how they should go and because it's all freehand and shield work, it goes quick. Which makes it a viable technique to master.
I recently read on a Forum site that True Fire is going to die out. The interest hit its peak due to over saturation in the media. But that leads to the main point of this post. True Fire is so popular because it goes with just about anything. Make it green, make it blue, make it hot freaking pink, and it's still True Fire. Have some coming out of a skull's mouth, off a skull's head, put the skull in the fire, it's all gravy. Much likes skulls, they will always be popular. Much like old school flames, they will endure. These are OUR old school flames. When people look back on custom painting they will look at Mike in the same light that people look at Van Dutch. They will see the flames he made popular and the people who were able to make a living with this art technique and say, much like me, "Thanks Mike".


Here is a nice showcase of some True Fire (and some mimics):

Sunday, March 28, 2010

5 Airbrush Artists You Should Know About (but probably don't)

This isn't a list of people that are the best ever, or those that I think are better than those that are known. Most people know of Craig Fraser, or Mike Lavallee (who, by the way, doesn't just do realistic fire), or even Cory Saint Clair or Alberto Ponno but there are guys out there that should be more well known for what it is they do. Guys that do things with the airbrush that is just mind boggling.

Soap (A.K.A Grizla): I found this guy on accident when I was checking out the Airbrush Action Myspace one day. I saw an airbrush piece that blew me away. I clicked the link and realized I'd seen this guy before on YouTube. The thing with Soap that sets him apart is that he paint BIG. Some of his large scale portraits could easily be comparable to Cory Saint Clair's. The Louie Armstrong piece I saw has so much realism in his eyes it feels like he is staring right at you. It's easy to get caught watching all of his videos and I encourage you to do just that.

Tom Martin: I found Hyper Tom on Deviantart when I was frequenting that site often. I passed by a few of his paintings because I thought they were photos of fruit, not airbrush paintings. I saw a few of the airbrushed pieces he did of metal work out equipment, and again thought they were just photos. I still cannot fully wrap my head around what it is he does, or how he makes his airbrush work the way he does. Brilliant stuff.

Adam Haden: Another Deviantart user, this guy puts some serious paint on semi-trucks, as well as motorcycles and what ever else paint will stick to. What makes his work so phenomenal is that he can keep his images so crisp while combining different references to make one single piece. Portraits to nudie pin-ups, he can paint anything with a face and make it look great.

Matt: Yet another Deviantart user (do you see a trend here??) who paints on huge semi trucks. He specializes in large scale murals that depict everything from movie scenes to old fire trucks painted with so much care they look like an old newspaper print on someone tail gate. Great guy to talk to as well.

Denis Peterson: Dru who? This guy may not only be on Deviantart, but that's where I know him from and I again passed by his art thinking they were photos. And this guy doesn't just paint some close up portraits, he paints the WORLD. There really isn't much I can say about this guys work other than if you really want to see how real you can get with an airbrush you need to check this guys work out. There are city scenes so detailed that I'm pretty sure look more real than the photos do.

Well, that's about it. Why not a top ten? Well, I've had a long day, a long week, and if this post was ever going to see the light of day, then I'd better get it out there. As a bonus though, I'll toss in these two guys: Kalli Haun and Laurus both from Germany and both incredible aritsts. The first focuses on portraits of real people that capture their souls and the second uses graffiti spray paint to create unique and rich work's of art with an airbrush. Check em out. Do it. Now.

The Video of the Post comes from Soap:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What It's All About

(the man of the hour, Willy)

Today I picked up my friend Willy's bike from being clear coated and cut/polished. I was pretty excited to pick them up because they were going to someone who deserved it and I'd never had the opportunity to do a bike like this. It was a project that really pushed me to my limits and gave a real challenge. On top of that I was able to do something for a friend that he'd only been able to dream of.
Willy has a hell of past. He ran amok in his youth and participated in violent, drug related crimes that landed him in prison. An in an out case, it was easy for the state, and people that knew him, to cast him aside as a waste. But something happened in his last stretch that put things in perspective for him and he realized that he didn't want to die in there.
Putting his life together wasn't easy, both inside and out. Inside, there was a set of rules that he'd lived by that weren't easy to cast aside. Outside, there was the challenge of functioning as a recovering addict in his 50's. The world changes faster for people at that age, and changes even faster when they are kept locked up. It hasn't been easy, but he's managed to do the right thing. He's managed to get straight A's on his way to becoming a drug and alcohol councilor while being active in his community and his family. He inspired me to go to school and to take life as it comes.
He told me once that his one dream was to get his Harley painted because he'd just never had the money. He talked about getting the money together to have me do it and when I realized the kind of strain that would cause him, I decided to pay for the materials out of pocket and do my best to make his dreams reality. In my eyes, I owed him and this was my way of paying him back. He deserved to have the work that was done. Every day I put into that project wasn't work at all, but something more. Seeing that Harley get finished, hearing his reactions on the phone and in his emails made every single minute sanding and airbrushing worth it.
Finishing that bike was one of the greatest feelings I've had. But it paled in comparison to the moment I was able to hand the tins over to him. Seeing a grown man moved, physically, by something I did made me realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. It makes all the anxiety of whether or not I can really make a living at this fade away. That moment is what all this is really all about.

The Video of the Post is brought to you by Alxgatorman Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Think it's Tutorial Time!!

Here's a little something I whipped up:

How to Airbrush an Eagle on a Flame Background Using Auto Air and Wicked Paints

I show you how I airbrushed an eagle onto a flamed out motorcycle tank. I go over paints and color theory using Createx's line of Auto Air paint and their new Wicked colors.

Realistic flames are all the craze now days. Thanks to Mike Lavallee of killer paint, they seem to be on everything from cars to helicoptors. Lately people have been wanting to step those flames up by having graphics airbrushed over the top of them. This can prove to be quite a challenge when you consider all the different colors that can end up mixed together. You can always cut a stencil out or mask the area and spray some white on there, but that just leaves a cartoonish sharp image and high build up of paint. I recently had a bike to do for a friend that called for realistic flames and an eagle to be airbrushed over the top of that. Not one to shy aways from a challenge, I jumped right in: (there will be a tutorial on how I did the flames later)

Content Source: Bukisa - How to Airbrush an Eagle on a Flame Background Using Auto Air and Wicked Paints


Click the link to read the rest of the article! Enjoy!!


The Video of the Post is brought to you by: Ed Hubbs

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wicked Paints Review

I ordered some Wicked paints the other day because I needed to try something new (I had been using Auto Air) and I had been hearing great things about the product. I went to Coast Airbrush since I found that they had a pretty good deal on a 5 color set that included the reducer. I went with the 2 oz semi opaque set figuring that I can always reduce it down. The website said that the semi opaque offers .5 micron binder size while the Wicked Detail Colors are sheared to .1 microns. The Wicked Detail Colors were supported by Dru Blair, which meant that they might still have some opaque properties to them, since I knew he was a fan of the opaques. What really interested me was that they were called water bourne rather than water based and have a mild solvent included in it.
When my set arrived it was a few days before I could bust them open, but luckily I had a project that was going to be perfect for trying them out. What I had heard the most about was the white and how it flowed, so I was excited to give that a try on some detailed work. The project was my friends red Harley that was due for some realistic flames and a couple eagle portraits. I started in on the flames with the semi opaque white and yellow in a reduced mixture that was similar to chrome yellow in euros. I was immediately impressed with how the Wicked paints flowed. Though there was some tip dry, it wasn't any thing like that found with the Auto Air paints. The white wasn't as chalky seeming either, leaving a nice smooth finish.
I worked through the flames, using the Wicked over the Auto Air and vice versa. I wouldn't recommend mixing them together, as they sort of gum up and don't flow right, but they seem to be perfectly compatible together.
Rinsing the paint out of my airbrush showed me that the solvent was very much there. Usually a couple dunks in some water, a few back flushes and some cleaner and it's good to go. The water seemed to react different, similar to how uros would, but the cleaner seemed to cut right through it. Once the brush was clean, I put a few drops of the reducer in there to get any of the paint that I may have missed.
It was time to paint the eagle and I was nervous. I had to put my Iwata aside since I had a needle issue to take care of and pulled out my Grex XN. I figured the real test of these whites would be to shoot them through the .2mm nozzle. I thinned the paint 1:2 (one drop white to 2 drops of reducer) and threw in a drop of yellow to cut any blue shift the paint might give me (since I was painting over flames). I had a stencil I'd cut out of paper to give me some proportions and got right to work. After the initial spray I went in for the details in the eye. I notice right away that though there was tip dry, the paint flowed super smooth. I didn't have any issues with the Wicked paints, regardless of the fact that my gun was due for some tune ups, and quickly moved through the portrait.
Now the black. After some Auto Air Root Beer to give the portrait some depth, I came in with some black. I'm not usually a big fan of the blacks, but heavily reduced black can usually give you a nice brown or gray similar to graphite. I reduced the semi-opaque black 1:2 like before. Then, after spraying it and seeing it was still opaque black and I reduced it 1:3. After some spraying, I realized that it was also, again, still opaque. Reduced 1:5. I ran out of room in my cup and gave up. It was just too dense and reducing it just wasn't changing that. That heavy black has it's place, but I'm not a fan. I ended up going with my Auto Air mixture of semi-opaque black, transparent purple, and a drop of root beer. Luckily I was able to mix what the black had done.
Overall, I was pleased. I liked the rich color that the paints gave me, even when they were reduced. The fact I could get the white to spray through my Grex XN has me sold. I have to get used to cleaning the paint with the cleaner rather than just water, but they are still a lot easier to work with than the uros. If I had a seal of approval, I would put it on these paints.

Here is what I was able to do with the Wicked Paints (and a little help of the Auto Air candys):

And here is your Video of the Post brought to you by Cisco2015:

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Interview

Wednesday I have a job interview. For the first time in my life I am actually excited about a job interview. The job is for a full time airbrush position with a prominent custom motorcycle painting shop. It's amazing to me that there would be such a job available anywhere, let alone just a few miles away (ok, like 116 miles, but it's not Miami). They saw my work and they really liked it. Well, they liked it enough to want to see it in person and to talk with me as well. This is probably the most amazing thing that has happened to me in a long time. Even if I don't get the job for some reason, I had an interview for THE job I am working towards. As much as I would love to start my own shop, and that is in my future, working in a shop would really put me in a position to work on my experience and work on getting my art on projects.
How did I do it? Well, I applied. That's pretty much it. I wrote a nice cover letter and sent them some of my work. I realized that this is a field much like the computer/tech industry, where most of it doesn't matter so long as you can prove your work is yours and you aren't a douche bag (well, that last one doesn't seem to matter when it comes to computers...). After some hesitation I sent in my stuff (at the urging of my loving wife) and after they got back from bike week in Miami (!!), they emailed me. I called and set up a time.
Amazing.
Other than to toot my own horn (TOOT!), I'm trying to illustrate that you can be some guy in an apartment, putting down some paint, but you aren't going to move much beyond that if you don't put yourself out there. If this is what you really want to do, then make some moves. Even if it means having to actually move to another city. People do in the hospital industry, even tech and sales guys if it means a better lifestyle and better career goals. Folks sell their worldly belongings so that they can go to Hollywood. Put yourself out there. Send some cover letters with a nice portfolio (use links and explain its to ensure safety, or use a PDF for slides). Just get out there. Painting the planet is going to take forever from inside your garage.

The Video of the Post is brought to you by Magik:
Enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to Get Started Airbrushing: The List

Maybe you saw a video with some guy putting down the sickest skull ever with ease. Maybe you've seen that video of that one guy airbrushing that one portrait all sped up. Maybe you saw some pretty crazy airbrush graphics on some car or bike in some magazine. Maybe you saw these things or some other things and thought: I want to do that. Maybe you thought: I can do that.
Then you started looking through some sites or catalogs (do people look at catalogs anymore?) and started to feel a little overwhelmed. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of things to choose from in the airbrush world and it can be frustrating. Especially when all you want to do is airbrush.
Maybe I can help. I've put together a little list of things you will need to get started. This isn't THE list or top ten list or anything like that, but it is the bare bones equipment I needed to put down some of my first airbrush strokes. Maybe it'll clear up any confusion or maybe it'll just give you a starting point to some more.
1) The Compressor. Why is this before the airbrush? Because if you don't have air, then you just have a chunk of metal. If you are just starting out, then get a compressor that fits your needs and your budget right now. If you think this is something you'll want to do for a while, then look ahead to the one that you will grow into. Not all compressors are created equally and it will come down to how much air you need (your airbrush will tell you) and how loud you can stand it.
2) The Regulator. Ok, so it's still not the airbrush, but it's just as important. If you are going to have a compressor that pushes air, then you need to control that airflow. Find a regulator that has a moister trap because moisture is bad.
3) The Moisture Trap. I know, when the hell do we get an airbrush... trust me, this is important. Most compressors build moister due to heat under pressure and this moisture can get into the line, which can come out of your airbrush. That means water in bad places. Which, again, is bad.
4) The Airbrush! I didn't get into too much detail with the above, because there isn't much debate over what kind of this or that will be needed, but when it comes to airbrushes you would think that people were discussing stem cell research. I've seen folks run out of forums over this. Here is my input: get a gun that fits your needs. Will you be illustrating? T-Shirts? Automotive? People? Airbrushes are complicated creatures and there will be whole blog posts written about the many many aspects of this machined metal monster. For now, here's what you need:
- If you are just going to illustrate and don't ever plan on moving on get a gravity feed airbrush with anything lower than .3mm needle nozzle combo. Alberto Ponno uses the Paasche VJR. You can also get a side feed, though they are a little tougher to clean.
- If you plan to do just T-Shirts and don't ever plan to move on (at least for a while) get a bottom feed/siphon feed. Something like this.
- If you want to go straight for the automotives, really anything will work as long as the airbrush has teflon needle bearings (this will resist solvents found in auto paints and reducers). Some companies release these for their illustration brushes so that you can just change them out without getting a whole new gun.
5) Cleaning Stuff. If you have a gun, you need to clean it. Look for the pipe cleaning set up and some needles. Also, if you are using water based paint, get some Windex or other window cleaner. For autos or other solvent based paints, look to see what it is reduced with and that will be your cleaner.
6) Spare Parts. If you ever clean your brush, you'll end up smashing a needle or nozzle. Get a needle and a nozzle when you get your airbrush.
7) Lube. After you've gotten that airbrush clean you need to lube it up. Make sure you are getting a lube that will work with any type of paint. Superlube is an industry standard.
8) Surfaces. This is before paint in my book because you can't use paint if you don't have anything to paint on. As a beginner, I recommend getting something like pellon because it can take a lot of abuse and is fairly inexpensive. You can also get cheap water color paper since it is highly absorbent. I like the pellon because after you've painted on it you can still use it to make stencils and it mimics how it would be to paint T-Shirts.
9) Paint. I'll make this simple. Get Textile paint if you want to paint T-Shirts. You can use these for illustrations, but they are made thick so it takes more air to spray them. Get illustration paint for illustration (Golden, ComArt), or get watercolor paint and dilute it, or inks, or dyes, or... anything that can come out of that gun is pretty much ok as long as you can clean it up. Autos require a whole post their own, but to start I recommend Auto Air or Wicked.
10) Xacto Knife. You'll need this to cut stuff.
11) The Internet. If you want to make these things work together then you need to spend some time on YouTube and in the forums. People have done it and have been there and will show you the way.

Well, I hope that was helpful. I will be getting into greater detail on each of these items in later blogs, so don't worry. If you don't find your answers elsewhere, then you'll find them here.

The Video of The Post Comes From Tony D at Airbrush Tricks: