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

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.


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.

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