ER EDI'f1ON 1985
I Mechanicsburg, Permit No. 63 PA
IEEHAND AIRBRUSH PORTRAIT BY RAY SHLEMON
A New Name in Excellence PREDICTABLE
The intricately advanced noulelneedle combination means exceptional balance, smoothness, and control from start to finish. Olympos manufactures a full line of gravity and siphon feed airbrushes, accessories, and adapters to meet every professional need. Manufactured by. Olyrnpos Co., Ltd.
D~stnbutedby. Art Allendale Park Allendale, NJ 07401 (201) 825-8686 Dealer lnqulnes ~nv~ted
QLYMPQS AIRBRUSHES can be purchased at the following leading art material stores:
Koenig Art Emporium Fort Myers North Miami Plantation Pompano Neena Art 6 Frame West Hollywood Odando Frame 6 Art Orlando Rex Artist Supplies Broward Dade Miami Naples West Palm Beach
Binders Art Center Montgomery
The Flax Co. Phoenix
The Fine Art Store San Diego Flax, lnc. Los Angeles Flax's Artists Materials San Francisco Sunnyvale PAS Graphics, Inc. Pasadena Sterling Art Tustin University Art Center Palo Alto San Francisco San Jose Santa Clara World Supply, Inc. Hollywood
Hawaiian Graphics Corp. Honolulu
Binders Art Center Atlanta Crest Art, Inc. Atlanta Sam flax, Inc. Atlanta
Art Hardware Boulder Colorado Springs Fort Collins H.R. Meininger Co. Denver
The Flax Co. Chicago The Graphic Store Addison Pyramld Artists' Materials Champaign Urbana
Kanig Art Emporium Bridgeport Danbury Oarien Fairfield Farmington Greenwich Hartford Milford Old Saybrook Southbury Stamford Trumbull Waterford West Hartford Kanig Artist Supplies, Inc. Milford Ki Koenig Clearance Center ramden
Bates, Inc. Indianapolis
Art World Council Bluffs Lind Art World Iowa City
Art World Overland Park Keith Coldsnow, Ltd. Overland Park Color King, Inc. Witchita
Visual Systems Co., Inc. Rockville
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
E.J. Ardon Co., Inc. Boston Koenig Art Emporium Boston Needham Springfield Watertown Westboro
Visual Systems Co., Inc. Washington
Arteriors Miami Art Mart West Palm Beach Sam Flax, ~nc. Tampa The Frame Up Gallery North Miami Beach
DM1 Industries, Inc. Ann Arbor Oearborn
LYMDQ S AIRBRUSHES
Madison Heights Royal Oak
Artsign Materials Co. Burnsville Edina Minneapolis Minnetonka Roseville St. Paul
Art World Kansas City Bader's Art Supply Clayton St. Louis Keith Coldsnow, Ltd. Kansas City
Art World Lincoln Omaha Standard Lincoln Blueprint Company Omaha
Kanig Art Emporium Newington
Dupont Graphic Arts, Inc. Cinnaminson Parsippany Koenig Art Emporium Lawrenceville Short Hills Wayne Woodbridge
ArtisanlSanta Fe, Inc. Santa Fe
Adene's Artist Materials Albany Sam Flax, Inc. New York City Grand Central Artists Materials New York City Hyatt's Art 6 Craft Store Williamsville Hyatt's Graphic Supply Co., Inc. Buffalo Clarence Rochester Kanig Art Emporium Mt. Kisco Nanuet White Plains Yorktown Lee's Art Shop, Inc. New York City New York Central Art Supply, Inc. New York City Orange ~ m n Paint t supply, lnc. Bethpage Hempstead North Babylon
Parsons Art Supply New York City Syracuse Blue Print Co., Inc. Syracuse
Binden Art Center Charlotte
Dunahey's Art Media Bismarck
Long's Art Supply Columbus Ken McCallister, Inc. Dayton The Morse Graphic Art Supply Co. Cleveland Parma Heights Woodmere Prince Reproductions, Inc. Cincinnati
Kanig Art Empodum King of Prussia North Wales Willowgrove
Art Center Supply Store, Inc. Memphis GrlfRn Supply Co. Nashville
Artsign Materlals Co. Dallas The Rush Company Dallas
Reuel's Art 6 Engineering Salt Lake City Reuel's Art 6 Frame Salt Lake City Reuel's Photo Blue Co. Salt Lake City
Visual Systems Co., Inc. Falls Church
Graphic Supply Center Seattle Spokane Art Supply, Inc. Spokane
Omer DaSems Canada, Inc. Montreal, Quebec Grafix M B, Inc. Toronto, Ontario Maxwell's Artists' Materials, Ltd. Vancouver, B.C.
Please contact our corporate office directly if there is no dealer in your area.
N a t i o n a l Art Industries, Inc. Allendale Park, Allendale, N.J. 07401 Telephone: (201) 825-8686 Telex: 837268
Clifford S. Stieglitz Art Director Cheryl Mirkin
Copy Editor B.F. Emmer WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE THE COMMENTS FROM SOME CUSTOMERS:
Contributing Editors Ferris Butler Jeffrey Ressner
Great Ink Without a doubt the best paint I have ever used. Great color selection and overall the best textile paint I have ever used. HIGH TECHNOLOGY COLOR "We Put I t Together For You"
................................. PLEASE SEND ME THE FOLLOWING INTRO KIT Each Kit containes 6 Colors 2 oz. Tech Sheet COLOR FLEX (Plastic) AQUA FLOW (Tex.) ENCLOSED IS $16.00 (SEND PREPAID)
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West Coast Correspondent Kate Seago
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phone: 1-800-334-2249To Ship U.P.S. C.O.D. for $19.00
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Pricing & Ethical Guidelines-5th Edition Advertising Director Cliff Ross
THE DEFINITIVE RESOURCE FOR ILLUSTRATORS, DESIGNERS AND ART BUYERS. Thii bestselling book is the only book that compiles prices, business practices, contmcts and trade customs in an easyto-use, practical format. It is the essential reference book on budgeting and pricing for artists and their clients. And, it's the only book that keeps current on rights, business standards and the law. 228 pages, almost twice the length of the 4th edition, this book includes a new section on computer graphics as well as graphic design, book design, textiles, advertising and illustration, cartooning and animation. A glossary of frequently used trade terms is included for ready reference. This book is a must for any individual, corporation or institution that deals in these areas. 228 pages, 7" x 12", full-color cover, 1984, softbound, $16.95
Editorial offices: 31 7 Cross Street, Lakewood, N j 08701. Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings and photographs submitted if they are to be returned and no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. All rights in letters sent to Airbrush Action will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and as subject to Airbrush Action's unrestricted right to edit and to comment editorially. Contents copyright 01985 by Airbrush Action. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Subscription inquiries: Send all remittances, requests and changes of address to Airbrush Action, P.O. Box 3000, Dept. MM, Denville, Nj 07834. In ~ I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I 1 Canada mail to Smith Borthwick Ltd., 345 Beech SEND TO: AIRBRUSH ACTION, P.O. Box 73, Lakewood, NJ 08701 Lawn Drive, Waterloo, Ont. N2L58. Subscription Rates: One year $18, two years $36, three years854. Please send me c o p y ( i e s ) of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook
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AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
About the Cover This month's cover, done by our featured artist DICKRAN PALULIAN in 1979 for Penthouse, greatly enhances the launch of our new AIRBRUSH ACTION logo designed by JOEL JAY WEISSMAN
Airwush Cleaning Basics How to extend the life of your airbrush with quick and easy steps for cleaning by Dave Malone.
Color Theory The importance of understanding the principles of color theory by renowned artist Robert Anderson.
Making Money in T-shirt Airbrushing T-shirt airbrushing is fun, in strong demand, and offers high profits at a very low initial investment.
Dickran Palulian Profile of celebrated and concerned artist. A man well versed in the creative and business aspects of commercial illustration.
T-SHIRT AIRBRUSH MECCA THE FLORIDA PANHANDLE The Miracle Strip This is where the first colony of T-shirt airbrushers originated. There is much talent as well as competitive tension among these artists.
Panama Citv Beach is known for its sun. fun, and world's largest, tightly knit, zany T-shirt airbrush community.
DEPARTMENTS Hot Air-Publisher's Message
Q and A
New Products Wear the Air
JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION
521 Metallic Gold
Formulated Fabric Paint
4 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
MESSAGE FROM THE PUBLISHER The debut of our premiere issue in May was met with great excitement, especially at the National Art Materials Trade Association Show in Montreal. The art retailing community, aware of strong demand for airbrushing products, voiced overwhelming enthusiasm for AIRBRUSH ACTION. As reader or advertiser, you are part of this publication. You have the right to offer feedback and suggestions at anytime, by phone or mail. We want to provide the airbrush world with a forum it has too long been without. Some of the issues that need airing are tackled in this issue. Dickran Palulian, a Graphic Artist Guild member and a staunch fighter for artists' rights, has taken an admirable stand against work-for-hire agreements that deprive artists of proprietary interest in their own work. Our interview with Palulian begins on page 22. Another topic of importance is the airbrush "caste system'' whereby T-shirt artists find themselves relegated to the lowest rank. The truth is that many T-shirt airbrushers are as well trained as other artists in the medium but have simply discovered that the T-shirt trade could keep them from starving on the highly competitive battlefield of commercial illustration and fine art. Insights begin on page 14. We hope you'll bring to our attention other issues you'd like to see examined in the pages of
BRUSH UP ON OUR SUMMERTIME SAVINGS ATLANTA AIRBRUSH has been waiting for summer all year long. While everyone is shedding their winter sweaters for T-shirts, shorts, visors and bikinis, we're stripping our everyday low prices t o the bare essentials.
Order extra for the beach. Perhaps you need a new brush. Or t o increase your speed, order several airbrushes and keep them filled with your popular colors. Stock up on paint and other accessories while prices are slashed. Order now by calling ATLANTA AIRBRUSH Toll Free. 1-800-241-3242, for quick and dependable service.
MP-2WB There's no finer equipment made. An advanced nozzlelneedle guarantees precise control. The angled gravity-feed color cup and adjustable needle Shaft assure a smooth flow for hairlines or normal spray patterns. Recommended for dves, Inks. watercolors and retouch colors. Double action, push button control;'2mm tip size; % oz. (Code G) List Price $275.00 ............................ Our Price $171.95
ACETATE 6075 Used t o make stencils for airbrush patterns. Preferred over frisket because the edges may vary from soft t o razor sharp with user discretion. Cuts like frisket. To hold acetate in place, use Shlva, a repositional adhesive, which you'll receive free with your order, a $2.89 value (6 02.). (Code B) 5 Shts. 25" X 40" ........................................ 517.46
HP-102B The trigger control adds extra smoothness. Fine and thick spray patterns are easily controlled by the adjustable needle shaft. The siphon-feed removable 1oz. cup is recommended for dyes, inks, watercolor, retouch colors, lacquer and acrylics. (Code H) List Price $150.00 .............................
AQUA FLOW A i r b r u s h Colors The ultra fine pigments have been formulated primarily for airbrush use on 100%cotton and polyester blends, as well as absorbent illustration surfaces. AII colors are intermixable and permanent. The transparent and opaque colors deliver clean brilliance. The fluorescent or Hot Colors are very lightfast. (Code C) Primary Set 5 colorslList Price $13.50 ........... Our Price 511.47 (Code D) Secondary Set 10 colorslList Price $27.00 .......... Our Prlce 522.95
COM-ART T r a n s p a r e n t and O p a q u e A i r b r u s h Colors Fine ground pigments allow for a very smooth spray through airbrushes. Colors are water Soluble, llghtfast, permanent, leadfree and non-toxic. Excellent 4-color separation quality. colors come in ready-to-useIoz. plastic, spout top bottles. Includes concentrated cleaner that dissolves dry COM-ART paint. Opaque Set List Price $22.95 ........ Our Price $15.30 Transparent Set List Price $19.95 ... .Our Prlce $13.95
FRISKFILM Masking - Film
AIR FORCE II
Become an ATLANTA AIRBRUSHER. You'll receive Our ATLANTA AIRBRUSH T-shirt absolutely free with your $50 or more order. These Hanes T-shirts are silver grey with black imprint. Specify Medium or Large when ordering.
(Olymposparts available) The ultra-fine spray nozzle (.18mm) reduces air stream blow back, allowing the artist t o zero in on the artwork surface. The adiustable needle shaft is regulated by a dial for the most accurate control of line widths and spray patterns. Recommended for inks, watercolors and retouch colors. Double action. Push button; % oz. (Code F) List Price $195.00 ............................ Our Prlce $121.95
ers who work with a range of mediums, the VL3L is versatile and easy t o use. The plated brass body ensures a good balanced feel and will last for years. For use with practically any type paint, but especially good with enamels. Brush only-no accessories. tcode A) List Price $55.50 .............................. Our Prlce 536.71
The best source for silent, portable air, precise airflow control and reliable performance. With I Is a four airbrush capacity, the AIR FORCE 1 perfect for T-shlrt palntlng. Features include adjustable air regulator, auto onloff pressure lever, llne and tank gauges, safety rellef valve and outside check valve cieaning. Fully guaranteed for service and parts. SPECIFICATIONS: w HP @ 3500 RPM,115vr6o~zthermal protected, 154 watts/1.99 AMPS, PSI starts @ 88lstops at 120,s liter tank, 99.999%-.OI micro mini filter, 48 ~bs. (Code E) List Price $550.00 .....................Our Prlce $399.95
This special formulated, low tack adhesive grips securely, and leaves no residue on the surface when peeled off. Easyto cut and highly transparent. Matte finish will accept pencil. Specify matte or gloss. (Code J) 24" x 10 yds./List price $38.25.. ................ Our Prlce 524.86
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AIRBRUSH CLEANING BASICS BY DAVE MALONE
Why does my airbrush spit? I've heard this question literally a thousand times over the past few years. Since the airbrush reached the artist's hands, frustration caused by unwanted spray patterns and other strange surprises has plagued both beginner and pro alike. Artists have been known to change airbrushes, paint, air sources, and even life styles, trying to discover the magic combination that eliminates undesirable spitting, stippling, and blobbing. It is not true that each manufacturer sabotages every brush simply to drive artists insane. Sometimes related equipment is the culprit. Inadequate moisture separators, faulty air regulators, bent needles, split nozzles, or improperly thinned paint can be villains. But the number one problem that I have seen is simply a dirty airbrush. Of course, some artists believe that if they let their airbrush sit long enough, it will clean itself. Not true. I have also heard artists say that cleaning will take away from the character of the brush. I used to throw my brush against the wall occasionally, hoping to beat it into submission. But once I discovered that keeping my brush constantly clean was not a capital crime nor reason to worry about my artist's license being revoked, my life became much less frustrating. The first trick to maintaining a clean
IGURE 1 6 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
brush is to find the proper cleaner. Different paints require different cleaners. When I started airbrushing, most artists did not even know what paint to spray through an airbrush, let alone what cleaner to use. But thanks to our trusty airbrush manufacturers' coming to our rescue, we may now choose from a variety of paints and cleaners specially formulated for the airbrush artist. However, certain myths still exist. Many artists believe that if they are using a water-soluble paint, water is the perfect cleaner. I once thought that I never had to iron permanentpress shirts. But after leaving them in the dryer for a day or two, the permanent disappeared from the press. The same goes for water-soluble paints. If the paint stays in the brush too long, the paint just chuckles when water is poured in, much like the snickering directed toward me and the not-so-permanently pressed shirt I proudly wore. So paint manufacturers have produced cleaners that work well with their own brand of paint. But, as I have discovered, cleaning one brand of paint with another brand of cleaner does not always lead to a clean brush. It is often best to stick with like brands, but experimenting a bit does not hurt. Some of the better cleaners on the market include COM-ART cleaner, Badger acrylic cleaner, and
Shiva Kleen (Figure 1). The Badger and Shiva cleaners come ready to use; the COM-ART cleaner is a concentrate, diluted three or four parts water to one part cleaner. There are essentially two ways to clean an airbrush. The most frequent occurs between colors. The quickest and easiest method that I have found for cleaning between color switches is as follows:
ONE: Pour out any unused paint into a paint collection jar or into the garbage (Figure 2).
TWO: Pour in like-brand cleaner, stir it around the color cup and spray for two or three seconds (Figure 3).
THREE: Pour out the cleaner (Figure 4). It is not necessary to spray through the airbrush all of the cleaner poured into the cup. Two or three seconds is sufficient. Besides, longer spraying fills the air with cleaner, creating an unpleasant working environment.
FOUR: Rinse the cup with water and spray for four or five seconds (Figure 5). Failing to rinse the cleaner from the cup and brush thoroughly can create two problems. First, the remaining cleaner might react chemically with the new paint, causing a change of color. Second, the re-
maining cleaner, when sprayed onto the artwork, could bleach out what has been previously sprayed.
FIVE: Pour out excess water (Figure 6). SIX: Wipe out cup and spray until
no more water sprays out (Figure 7). This entire cleaning process should take only about thirty seconds. Some artists believe that the needle should be pulled back during cleaning while spraying (Figure 8). However, doing so often draws paint into the piston area, clogging it up and causing the button and piston to stick. Also noteworthy, for color switch cleaning, gravity-fed airbrushes are easier to clean than siphon-fed brushes. In fact, gravity-fed brushes clog less than siphon-fed brushes in the first place. The second and more thorough cleaning method, of course, is to tear down the airbrush and soak the parts in cleaner. Figures 9 and 10 show a Badger and an lwata airbrush broken down as far as necessary for complete cleaning. I do not recommend use of an ultrasonic cleaner for airbrush cleaning. In fact, in many cases such methods will damage the finely machined threads and loosen internal parts of the brush, causing leaks and throwing the needle and nozzle out of alignment. The steps that I employ for complete cleaning are as follows:
. i f
ONE: Tear down the airbrush, place the parts in either a metal or porcelain pan and soak them for ten to twenty minutes (Figure 11).
TWO: When the paint has broken free from the brush, rinse the parts thoroughly with water inside and out (Figure 12).
THREE: Dry the needle and nozzle
completely. Take care not to bend the tip of the needle (Figure 13).
FOUR: Reassemble the brush properly. Refer to the owner's manual for the correct procedure. I suggest tearing down and putting the airbrush back together a couple of times prior to the first cleaning to ensure proper reassembly. I have learned either to remove my permanent press shirts from the dryer before the drum ceases spinning or to heat up the old iron. If you follow the simple steps for cleaning your airbrush outlined in this article, you will experience hours of trouble-free spraying-no spit, no clog, no blob.
I G U R E 12
I G U R E 13 JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION
FOR AIRBRUSH TECHNIQUE BY ROBERT ANDERSON Color theory and the interaction of color are relevant to media that are applied as a spray as well as to those that are applied by brush. There are some differences however in the way the color is perceived. Basic color theory begins with the principle that color is light. It is light that carries color, not paint or pigment. The visible spectrum that we call light is only a small portion of the range of electronic or radiant energy. Above and below visible light on the electromagnetic scale are bands of energy that we can not see, such as ultraviolet, infrared and x-rays. If light is passed through a prism it will separate into its pigments in a paint or colorant absorb certain colors from white light and reflect others. This reflected light is perceived by the viewer as a color, for example, red. But how is this red differentiated from other reds? Paint manufacturers sometimes assign arbitrary or pigment related names to the colors, such as deep brilliant red or burnt umber. The artist however must be more specific in identifying color to insure color continuity and accuracy. Hue, value and chroma are the attributes used to classify color. Every color can be accurately described within this system. Hue refers to the name of the color. This does not mean the name of the dye or pigment used to make the color, such 8 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST,1985
as cadmium red, but a generic name such as red, yellow or blue. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color or its relative position on a scale between black and white. The brightness or intensity of a color is referred to as chroma. A specific color, therefore can be light and bright (or dull) or dark and bright (or dull). For example, the color known as cadmium yellow light is a very bright (Chroma) and very light (Value), yellow (hue). Raw Umber is also a yellow hue, but is low in chroma and value. Dark, dull yellows and yellow-reds are collectively referred to as browns. Many color systems are used to describe hue and chroma graphically. The most basic of these is the three-primary system. This basic system is constructed as an equal-sided triangle within a circle, (see Fig. 1). Three primary hues-red, yellow and blue--are located at the points of the triangle. Theoretically, all other colors can be approximated through mixtures of these three. Mixtures of two primary colors (such as yellow and blue) result in a secondary color (green) and mixtures of primary and secondary colors result in intermediate colors. A primary blue added to a secondary green for example will produce a blue-green. Colors that are near each other on the wheel are called anal-
Figure 2 agous and will generally yield pleasing mixtures and harmonious relationships. As the distances between colors on the wheel increase however, they become more reactive producing visual tension. The most reactive combinations of colors are known as complements and are located directly across from one another on the color wheel. When swatches of bright complementary colors are placed side by side they seem to visually vibrate, each enhancing the intensity of the other. This area of color theory played an important role in the work of the OP or optical artists of the 1960's. The chroma of a color i s represented within the color wheel. At the center of the circle is a neutral or grey area where all colors tend to converge. As a line is followed out from the center to a hue position on the outer rim, that hue becomes more intense. A bright fire engine red, for
example, will be located towards the outside rim of the circle whereas a duller brick red may be located Y4 of the way in towards the center. The brightest forms of all colors are commercially manufactured as they can not be mixed. In their brightest state, these hues can be used as is or reduced in intensity as required. This is done by mixing in small quantities of the complementary color. As the complement is added, the resulting mixture begins to grey and its position on the color wheel moves in toward the center. Continuing to add the complement will result in a mixture with little or no color intensity. As this process continues, the position of the mixture will move through the center and begin to take on characteristics of the complement. The color dimension of value can not be indicated on a flat color wheel. For
JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION
this, the color model must be made 3-dimensional or spherical, (see Fig. TOOLS OF THE TRADE SHOW 2). This color sphere will have a pole running through the center, representing black at the south pole and white at the north. The pole is then divided into 10 equal segments. Each of these segments indicates a value level. A color wheel is attached to each segment, with the value pole running through the center. When the model is completed, there will be 10 parallel color wheels, each representing the color spectrum at that value. Color hue and chroma are still indicated in the same manner as on the flat wheel. The difference now is that they are represented at each value level. Intense color occurs in nature at value levels that are specific to that Pasadena Convention Center hue. Bright yellows, for example are October 4, 5 and 6,1985 those that are light or high in value. Blues, on the other hand, are most intense in their lower value ranges. The color model, therefore, will not HOPS be a perfect sphere. Its outer shape will vary with the maximum intenINTENSIFIED EDUCATION sity available at that specific hue and value level. LEARN SHOPS intensified educational The discussion thus far concerns workshops are designed to be a learnmore than just color theory. It is the ing experience. Structured by a staff of theory that points out the relationprofessional artists and teachers, ships of color and demonstrates its courses are presented in a consistent and concise hands-on format that structure. Color structure is an orthoroughly explains and demonstrates derly sequence that shows how one the subjects being addressed. LEARN color relates to another. By being SHOPS stress the how, when, and aware of color structure, the artist where of the use of art media, tools, can use relationships that seem to be and techniques in a logical and commore harmonious, balanced and prehensible manneL LEARN SHOPS pleasing to most people. There are are all-inclusive; one tuition covers materials, equipment, exercise matemany ways to use color structure, rial and instruction. but as color choice is somewhat personal, some of them may be more Airbrush I-Basic Airbrush Technique to your taste than others. Instructor: Peter West One such use of color structure is Airbrush Il-Intermediate Airbrush to be aware of its psychological imTechnique pact. The color wheel is divided into Instructor: Robert Anderson two parts with a line that runs through Introductionto Photographic green and purple. All of the reds, Retouching With Emphasis on oranges and yellows are in the warm Airbrush half. These colors are associated with Instructor: At Grove the sun, heat and excitement and tend Basic Technical Illustration to advance when used in a 2-dimenWith Emphasis on Airbrush Instructor: Al Grove sional space. The other half of the color wheel contains the cool blues Concept, Composition, and Color Instructor: Robert Anderson and greens. They are associated with Drawing for the 80's ice, cold and serenity and tend to Instructor: Robert Anderson recede in the 2-dimensional plane. Another way to use color structure Advanced limited Only is through color relativitv. Color does not exi; in and of itself.'lt is the most for further information contact, relative medium in art, as it is deTOOLS OF THE TRADE SHOW pendent on its environment. A color P.O. Box 876, Temecula CA 92390 (714) 676-5566 of a certain hue, value and chroma will change in appearance if its
10 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
background or surrounding colors are changed. This is significant in airbrush or spray technique since color combinations are made optically instead of physically when sprayed. Even though the color is mixed before loading it in the airbrush, the final mixing takes place on the painting surface and ultimately in the eye of the viewer. This is because it is tiny dots of color that are actually being applied. As in a color television ~ i c t u r etube where thousands of dot; of colored light combine to make a picture on the screen, the airbrush lavs down dots of color. When the& dots are applied next to and over dots of other colors, the viewer will tend to see a mixture of these colors rather than individual dots. This phenomena, as well as the relative nature of color, may produce some unexpected and surprising results. It was a similar approach that interested the French painter Georges Seurat (1859-91). His painting system was variously known as NeoImpressionism, Divisionism and Pointalism. Seurat applied tiny strokes of brilliant colors to the canvas expecting them to merge in the viewer's eye, producing intermediary tints more luminous than those mixed on a palette. The dots were too large however, and the visual mixing was incomplete with the paintings taking on a sort of mosaic amearance. The size of the dots p r o d k e d by an airbrush however, are smal l enough so that this i s not a ~ r o b l e m .Dots Droduced by a spra); gun can be m'uch larger and interfere with visual mixing as in the work of New York artist H. N. Han, (see Fig. 3). Han uses the size of the dots to his advantage in establishing them as a motif. Other factors that effect the visual mixing of colors in airbrush technique are the relative opacityltransparency and viscosity of the medium, as well as the texture of the surface or ground. This is just an introductory look at color and its relationships. Experience, as usual, will be the best teacher. There are however, many color maps and mixing guides on the market to help you learn and feel more confident with color. For further technical information on color consult A COLOR NOTATION by A.H. Munsell, Munsell Color Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1971 and THE INTERACTION OF COLOR, Joseph Albers, Yale University Press, New a Haven, CT, 1963.
Mystudio situation is
such that it's impossible for me to have good ventilatlon. Even though I wear a mask, I am concerned about the palnt particles In the air from spraying. Do have any suggestions?
telephones, computers, etc.) The ions attach an electrical charge to dust particles which are then attracted out of the air. The electronic precipitator circulates air through a series of alternately charged plates. The dust particles are electromagnetically pulled out of the air and deposited on the plates which can be removed for periodic cleaning.
H o w do I remove a build up of acrylic paint on airbrush parts? Soak the parts in denatured alcohol for a few minutes and wipe clean. Protect yourself with adequate ventilation and by using rubber gloves.
Air cleaners will be helpful in your situation and are a good idea for any airbrush studio. Avoid the replace able filter type and use one or both of the following types. The ion generator cleans the air (of particles as small as .001 microns) by releasing a steady stream of ions. (They should not be placed near electronic equipment such as calculators, electronic
----------The Airbrush T-shirt set contains all you need to turn the ordinary into the EXTRAORDINARY. A little time - a little practice - and you can do it, too. No talent required. 1 Paasche VL #3 Airbrush 1 6' Air Hose 18-color Set of Fabric Paint 8 quickconnect caps 1 Stencil Burner
1 Package of Acetate 1 Compressor 1 Easel Box 1 Shirt Board And Complete Instructions
ORDER FORM Yes, I'm ready to be extraordinary!
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Price includes all Shipping 8 Handling. Prices good until January 1. 1986. JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION
T-SHIRT AIRBRUSHING: STARTING FROM SCRATCH Shirt airbrushing is a dependable and surefire plus to anyone interested in starting a new busin& inexpensively and making a fast buck. On the scene in some markets for decades, its appeal and attraction hasn't washed out or faded in the consumer's eye. As a medium for customizing shirts and other garments, airbrushing remains ideal. Still, for the novice, airbrushing can be a frightening proposition. The mystique and surrounding airbrushing still plague the layman who hasn't tried it. "I'm not an artist," he whines. "I can't draw stick figures. Where will f find one? And what about my customers?Will they like an airbrushed design? And will they pay more for the service?" The truth is, with a little guidance, practice and positive reinforcement, practically anyone is just an airbrush away from entering a whole new market. This article will attempt to clear up some of the mystery tied up with garment airbrushing by presenting the facts about the process, the costs and the appeal. Airbrushing carries with it a large profit margin, low initial cost, fast return on investment, a true competitive edge and virtually unlimited custom possibilities. That spells smart business. Customization of any kind is almost always a high ticket item. This is especially true with T-shirt airbrushing. Depending on design complexity and the time required to do the design, pricing can range from $10 to $75 or more per shirt. Before setting prices, however, make sure your market will bear the burden. Since pricing is an arbitrary consideration, standard floor and ceiling limits can only be established after a brief period of trial and error. Listing my personal guidelines might be misleading because each region of the country warrants different price schedules. For example, a popular rainbow design on a basic T-shirt may sell for $20 in New York City and $14-1 6 in New Jersey. That same design probably would command only $8 or less in Florida; the saturation of airbrushers in parts
of Florida has created an arena of stiff competition, forcing prices down. (Not to worry: The competitive situation in Florida is an isolated case. On a national, collective scale, airbrushers comprise a small lot.) However, it is safe to suggest a $15 average for standard displayed art, and about $20-30 for custom designs, taking no longer than 45 minutes to produce (cars, pets, cornpany identification, etc.). Art work requiring more time should be priced higher. Fortunately, most sales are generated from the designs you and your artist are familiar with (rainbows, tropical settings, two names in a heart, etc.). These designs should not take longer than 15 minutes to brush.
LOW Entrance Cost The barrier to entering airbrushing, in terms of investment, is relatively low compared with other businesses. Considering you already have a storefront, shirt stock and a heat press, the addition of airbrushing will cost roughly $250 to $1,500. Investment i s contingent on the
quality and type of equipment you buy. An airbrush, air compressor, easels, textile paints, shirt boards, stenciling equipment, opaque projector (optional), and miscellaneous accessories encompass the scope of requisite accoutrements. But the main attraction and real punch line is that T-shirt airbrushing holds the potential of returning your investment in one day. A concessionnaire I know averages about $700 a day, with a personal best of $2,000. That's impressive and easier to accomplish than one might expect. The variables contributing to this success are an attractive display, fast production capability, high foot-trafficked location and always keeping the "boards" busy. Airbrushing also gives the store owner a sharp competitive edge. As a crowd drawer and pleaser-particularly in malls and at fairs-airbrushing can't be beat as a means to upstage business rivals. Airbrushing provides a fascinating show of brilliant colors almost magically taking form as a design. What amazes people about air-
Board " Length 9vX~3v 1 ~ ~ 1 6 1117 ~ ~ 1 8 19tx20 AIRBRUSH ACTIONtJULY-AUGUST, 1985
brushing is that the airbrush never touches the surface it's painting on. And one never sees the paint flow from the brush. Also mysterious to audiences is the ease with which the airbrush artist controls line thickness, brush aim and general spray coverage. The attraction and strong demand for unlimited shirt customization speaks for itself. For those who want a one-of-a-kind shirt, without bearing the possible expense of screen printing, there isn't a better medium. Let's take a more in-depth look at several areas of airbrushing-the materials and costs, finding and paying artists, and designs that sell.
Materials and Costs The primary components of any airbrush svstem are airbrushes, an air compressbr and textile paint. The secondary units, which really should be considered necessities if you are at all serious about getting into airbrushing, are color bottles, an air hose, easels, shirt boards and soft vine charcoal. Another option to consider is having an opaque projector to facilitate otherwise tedious custom production.
Airbrushes. The two basic types of airbrushes are double and single action. The distinction is that double-action airbrushes offer complete control of line thickness or range by moving the finger lever located at the top of the airbrush back and forth. The farther back the lever is pulled, the wider the spray, and vice versa. The single-action airbrush limits line control in that the lever can only function in an up-and-down "single action" way. Single-action airbrushes are generally used for broad spray applications where detail and line variation are not critical. Although double-action airbrushes require more skill and practice to master, the advantages in having the more versatile airbrushes far outweigh the disadvantages. Air Compressors.
In my research, I have found the ideal air compressor to be compact, lightweight, portable, silent and one that offers a 40-or-more-pound tank output.
Textile Paints. Good textile paints are smooth-flowing (to enable faster coverage), have color brilliance or vibrancy and require little-to-no
thinning. Visit your local art store or review the advertisers in this magazine for more information.
Color Bottles. For efficient production, having a different bottle for every color is highly recommended. Color bottles easily attach and remove for fast color changing. Plastic bottles are preferred over glass because they are lighter and shatterproof. Air Hose. The air hose connects the airbrush to the compressor for the air supply required to shoot paint from the airbrush. Hoses come in different lengths and are nylonbraided and unbraided, coiled and uncoiled. Nylon-braided, 10 feet in length and uncoiled are the author's preference.
AIRBRUSH OUTLET omplete "Starter" Kit ..... $99
best whlte palnt available,
ng soon from the alrbrush
Shirts should be stretched onto boards to provide a smooth surface on which to airbrush. Wood, cardboard, corrugated, foam core and other rigid mediums are satisfactory. Double-wall corrugated boards are advisable because they are inexpensive, lightweight, durable and easy to work with. (Figure 1 suggests shirt board dimensions.) For the sake of efficiency, cut each board to accommodate two sizes.
This is the perfect medium for sketching onto shirts before airbrushing. Any line mistakes on fabric can be blown out with the airbrush. Even the most experienced airbrushers use vine charcoal regularly.
To avoid breathing unnecessary pigment dust from paint, a spray box is a handy device when changing colors. A previous color should be sprayed clean from the airbrush before using new colors. Respirators should also be seriously considered.
Stenciling Equipment. stencils play an integral role in airbrushing to help produce standard effects such as clouds, palm trees, moons, suns, lettering, and so on. The most innovative hand-stenci ling technique to date is the use of a hand-held burner that simply glides through acetate to produce even the most complex stencils in minutes. This method is time-efficient, easy to do and eliminates the need and tedium of the dreaded cutting knife.
write to: P 0. Box 9301
we shlp anywhere C 0 D
The hot ticket in airbrushing is in reproducing a customer's car, pet, portrait, logo, etc., onto a shirt. An opaque projector enables you to sketch custom designs in minutes by projecting the photo or artwork onto a shirt in perfect scale and size. The image on the shirt is traced with vine charcoal and then airbrushed. This technique is equally suited for the non-artist and the artist, who is anxious to cut valuable working and production time in half.
Materials Checklist Double-action . . . . . . . . . . $52.45-1 10 Air Compressor.. . . . . . . . . . $1 00-650 Textile paint . . . . . . . $4-1 8 per bottle (depending on size) Color bottles.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$3-5 Air hose.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $7.55-1 8.50 Easels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $8.50-400 Shirt boards.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ .75-10 Vine charcoal.. . . . . . . . . . $3.50-8.50 (box of 25) Spray container.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $3-1 0 Stenciling set-up.. . . . . . . . . . . . $14-45 Opaque projector . . . . . . $1 65-1,500 JULY-AUGUST, 1985IAIRBRUSH ACTION
ruu curl pay a lot more lor a~rbrusn colors. But you can't get a more waterresistant, lightfast or workable medium for airbrush art than Dr. Ph. Martin's new j SPECTRALITEacrylics.
The best medium. SPECTRALITE gives you all of the advantages of water-soluble acrylics. Durable, lightfast color. Quick-drying application. New SPECTRALITE acrylics are specifically designed for airbrush. Noncloggingand ready to use right from the plastic squeeze bottle without the bother of mixing and thinning tube colors. Easy clean-up. And no build-up will get in the way of you and your work.
For more information, call 305-921-6971 or write: Salis International, Inc. 4093 North 28th Way, Hollywood, FL 33020 U.S.A. Telex: 441608 salis ui cable: Salis Hollywood
full spectrum-not just a few colors. Water-resistant. Absolutely no fixative orprotecti'ue coating is needed. And for commercial illustrations, you can depend on SPECTRALITE to deliver -_ clean 4-color separations with no loss '? of color.
The best price. You don't have to pay a premium for Dr. Ph. Martin's superior quality. In fact, SPECTRALITE, in multi-color&packs, actually costs less, ounce for ounce, than brands which do not even come close in water-resistance or color quality.
Now that you can afford the best, why settle for anythingless?
The best performance. All 30 SPECTRALITE colors-both opaques and transparents-are made
The Professional's Palette
rra I rhe tinest artist pigments. ~ a d e to e, color-fast and lightfast across the
airbrush art depends on which artist you ask. Airbrushers agree on little, including how much they earn, the stated range all the way from $10,000 a season to $100,000 a year. Rush says $100,000 "isn't too far out and might be low," when you consider a name Los Angeles illustrator might receive $30,000 for one airbrushed movie poster. That income for an airbrush T-shirter, however, is more fantasy than fact to Rush.
Airbrushers stick together, as professionals forming a tightly knit social community. Paradoxically, they aren't above calling each other "jerks," a favorite Rush word, and dismissing competitors as fugitives from the twilight zone. It is common nonetheless to hear along The Miracle Mile that Mark Rush invented airbrushing and Micky Harris perfected it. Harris is too demurring to comment on what peers
contend, but Rush hardly comes across as shy. "That might be a beautiful statement," says Rush. "Micky doesn't have to do volume (in the No. 1 seller, T-shirtsthe gets paid very well to do a car. I've never told anyone I'm an artist; I'm a capitalist. Micky tells people he's an artist and he is. In that context, I agree that I started airbrushing here and he perfected it. He's a much better artist than I am, but I'm a much better capitalist." Rush also moves around more than Harris, who grew tired of the airbrusher's nomadic life and settled with wife and child in Okaloosa County, a Northwest Florida territory of sharp contrasts, with the cosmopolites oriented toward high-tech research and development at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, the crackers growing soybeans and raising Brahman crossbreeds, and the rest of the non-military commercial sector in heady competition for the tourists. Fort Walton Beach is sun 'n' fun, moderate surf and pearl-white (no hype, honestly) sand. Thanks to the Gulf Islands National Seashore and U.S. Air Force preserves, about 10 miles of sugar beach will remain undeveloped, nothing but gently undulating dunes and golden seaoats between the highway and the emerald-azure sea that draws ultraviolet ray worshippers by the thousands on any weekend between Spring Break and Labor Day. The highway is U.S. 98, named The Miracle Strip from Pensacola through Panama City Beach. The Miracle Mile is downtown Fort Walton Beach. Like any strip in any town, this one glitters, a garish, gaudy, irresistible come-on come summertime when shopkeepers catering to
"Buyers don't want just any T or related souvenir, they demand the distinctive touch of an airbrusher" 16 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
the monied teens and twenties, as opposed to the older conservative Canadians and Miami Beach refugees, hang out the AIRBRUSH signs, each bigger, bolder, brassier than the one before. Spunky Monkey, Prissy Tailed Bunny, Big Daddy Rabbit, Shirt Tail, Get Your Shirtogether and just plain o l d Jimmy's Souvenirs . . . Entrepreneurs tied to prethirty tourism either play one-upsman-ship in the name game or stick with the standard as if in disdain of clever upstarts. Names seem of scant consequence to shoppers who line up for merchandise. Young buyers want the Ts and shirt shopkeepers are out to sell them, as well as such products as personalized license plates, sun visors, baseball caps and beer can insulation wraps. Airbrushers such as Rush also paint bodies, those of bathing-suited girls and boys, as well as Mustangs and Fieros. Buyers don't want just any T or related souvenir, they demand the distinctive touch of an airbrusher. The market is so hot this year that 34 artists work just one block of The Strip in downtown Fort Walton Beach. That block contains Fountain Square, a Spanish-influenced, two-story stucco and tile complex built more than 10 years ago to house boutiques and cafes. Today the dozen spaces are devoted to airbrushing, a sandwich shop and an ice cream bar the only enterprises not capitalizing directly on the craving for "art shirts." Harris holds court at Treasure Island, a souvenir-packed emporium that dominates T-block sizewise and maintains sufficient diverse inventory to stay open year-around, unlike many smaller places that shut the doors on autumn's first chill, reopening (often under new manage-
ment) when Easter resurrects vacation season. Rush's latest domaine is Destin and The Gazebo, a trendy, toney boutique more Bloomingdale's than typical of the T trade. But then, the city is Destin, the heart of Northwest Florida's condominium industry and separated from Fort Walton Beach by more than six miles of Gulf-front preserves. Destin is to Fort Walton what the Catskills are to Coney Island. The luxury leisure crowd cavorts in Destin, until seven years ago a sleepy fishingvillage and today the second, third or fourth residence of investors who think $1.5 million for a penthouse reasonable if the resort package includes a pamper parlour, or what developers used to call a spa. Trust Rush to be in the vanguard. Until this year, Fort Walton Beach had cornered the airbrush market, but a sign by The Gazebo indicates the kind of season airbrushers in the two cities will experience. "Why cross the bridge?," it reads in reference to the congested East Pass divide that must be braved to reach one city from the other. "We have 2,000 shirts." Still, that's fewer shirts than Rush claims designs. "I have thousands," he boasts, and so it seems, for every scene from the de riguer sun setting on palmetto to a samuri ready to hack off a head. The samuri will cost you about $40, but average range for airbrushing throughout Okaloosa runs about $8 to $1 5, with several shops offering such simple designs as a single flower with one's name as low as $5. Designs run the stock to schlock to sensational gamet, the majority concentration, of course, on what sells. Customers want the folks back home to know they've been to the beach-the tan fades, but CE and
Tide won't wear away a surfer riding waves that incorporate the loops of the letters that spell Fort Walton Beach and Destin. Most airbrushers work in windows, center stage surrounded by a backdrop of available designs that at an earlier time would have been described as psychedelic. Day-glo is passe. Glitter is in. Ditto for the purest of pigments, with colors a more brilliant shade than Van Gogh envisioned. Palm trees don't grow in Northwest Florida. Developers import them and most die after the season, but as tourists don't know that, they want to wear palm trees a-wave in the breeze on their chests. They want purple moonlight on sailboat silhouettes, magenta sun over black seaoats, sunbronzed muscle boys pulled by scarlet cigarette boats over a turquoise sea, golden lasses in cerise striking bikinis under umbrellas flashier than a Barnum and Bailey tent. Buyers also go for balloon bouquets, strawberry sundaes, golden unicorns, rainbows, and, thanks to television's Miami vice squad show, the ubiquitous pink flamingo. Airbrushers pride themselves on originality. La Somchitch at Get Your Shirtogether meticulously brushes a mauve and sapphire beach scene into a butterfly's ruby outline. Debbie Dagwell at The Shirt Tail pleases the flyboys with silver Air Force jets streaming across an ultramarine sky. Tess Stevens at Rainbow T-shirts includes a drowsy fat pelican and a modern Madonna i n abstract impressionism among her repertoire. In the main, however, variation on the popular seaside resort theme characterizes the airbrushed T-shirt trade and artists openly steal from
1 JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION
for the discriminati artist endcraftsma
each other. Copyrights cost $100 each and at the rate the airbrushers churn out designs, no one has the time to protect an image, much less afford to cover a collection that numbers in the hundreds, if not Rush's thousands. "This is called the most prostituted art in the world," says Rush. "You won't see a lot of variety because a lot of people do beach scenes. That's where the money is. A few artists can do anything and hate beach scenes, but. . ." Money is one reason why 14-yearold Keely Hall spends spare time studying La at work in the shop owned by her mother, Beverly Barbarisi, and Sharron Land. The girl says she admires La's artistry, but admits attraction to a profession that gives the employee economic advantage over the owner. Neither airbrushers nor owners who employ them will divulge dollar specifics, but the ratio of what the artist keeps per illustrated item goes as high as 85-15. The owner worries about overhead, a condition of doing business foreign to most airbrushers who can pack up the $1,000 to $3,000 in airbrush equipment and walk down the street or move across the continent with the business carried in a bag. It seemed an ideal trade to La who found a natural inclination toward art in high school. A Laotian immigrant still slightly reticent to communicate in English, La learned airbrushing the same way artists of antiquity acquired facility by studying at masters' studios. La watched the early experts along The Strip in 18 AIRBRUSH ACTION/JULY-AUGUST, 1985
the late 1970s. He's back this season after a four-year hiatus to major in computer sc'ience, and his a; isn't rusty. La's style reflects his EuropeanOriental influence, but don't confuse him or his art with Vietnamese culture. Ordinarily quiet, the softspoken Laotian firmly informs the uninitiated that during the Communist invasion of his country, the family was relocated possessions intact. "We were what they called first-class immigrants," he says, "not like the Vietnamese who were just shipped over here by the boat loads." Many are the avenues traveled by the airbrushers. Stevens, an airbrusher for five years, hails from the Cajun country of Tibideaux. Louisiana: Fort Walton Beach, i" her opinion, the best port for her product. Vicki Blass picked Destin when she moved this year from Biloxi, Mississippi to open Little Brick Shirthouse in a former real estate office. Her mother, Linda, established Brick Shirthouse on the wave of success washed in by her Rainbow shop in Fort Walton Beach. The Air Force brought Dagwell's family to Fort Walton Beach where her father retired and became her partner in The Shirt Tail. Dagwell's other partner i s another airbrusherher ex-husband, Scott. The profession evidently transcends personal friction. Says Dagwell with a broad smile, "We're still able to be business partners without any problem." Casey Jones, a petite blonde "big mama" of airbrushers at age 35, lost her partner in the Me and Ms. Jones T-shirt venture when marriage to a high-ranking Fort Walton Beach police officer ended. They remain amiable and Ms. Jones this summer signs on with Sun Hot Shirts of Fountain Square. Singlehood opened vistas for Jones who says she was working on MGM's Grand Hotel in Las Vegas during the infamous fire. Her piece de resistance at M G M Grand was not the airbrushed wearable, but a lighted T, for which she found few buyers in Fort Walton Beach. Here, the white jeans and walking shorts are topped by Ts, but the clothes conscious consider airbrushing sufficiently bright without lightbulbs. Casey Jones rolls with the market. She spent 18 months at Fort Hood, Texas, where the soldiers cared more for cars than clothes and commissioned her to airbrush the likes of
Corvettes and TransAms. Christmas 1984 found her airbrushing everything with a blank surface at one of the world's largest malls, San Jacinto at Baytown, outside Houston, where she plans to return when the beach season winds down. Rush, like most of his colleagues, also subscribes to the motto, "Have airbrush, will travel." You might find him at Orlando's DisneyWorld or Anaheim's Disney Land, at Sea World or Busch Gardens further sourth in Florida, on Key West or Hawaii or St. Thomas, in Colorado this winter and Beach Mountain, North Carolina, next summer. The gypsy life an airbrusher must live, he says. "You can't stay here all the time and make any money." Harris thinks differently, but then Harris is marketing airbrushed prints of the Columbia at lift-off through NASA as Kennedy Space Center souvenirs and garnering media publicity by presenting straight flatwork to such dignitaries as U.S. Senator Paula Hawkins of Florida. Not that Rush is a slouch about business. He says he's design consultant to other airbrushers and such companies as Magna Graphics and Air Nouveau. He also consults on equipment design and assesses items not yet in production. Primarily, however, Rush by his own description is his own person, the quintessence of the imaginative maverick. Tracking him down for this article was as tricky as finding the Panhandle official who years back decided to deposit county funds in a Belize account. "I've been partying to get ready for the season," Rush nonchalantly explains. No doubt about it, airbrushers are different, but not necessarily deserving of the reputation the three-piece suit crowd would give them as more high on coke than creativity. "Look at Ernest Hemingway, anybody who writes books or paints or composes music," Rush advises. "You could say they were or are all doing drugs or booze. But, 'Amadeus' is a perfect example: You don't have to do drugs, you can be crazy in other ways. Being crazy helps you survive. As an airbrusher, you don't have to be a multi-personality person, but you need insight into the person buying your design to give him his money's worth." Daisy would say you don't glean that insight in the suburbs.
To create airbrush magic, you need just the right chemistry: Dyes that won't fade. Opaques that won't clog. And colors that separate true and mix with traditional media. Com-Arttransparent dyes are permanent, pigmented, and absolutely non-fading. They can be sprayed over or mixed with Com-Art opaques for spectacular color effects. Com-Art's innovative dyes and opaques are so versatile they actually stabilize and enhance the flow of acrylics. lated to meet the specific requirements of airbrush profession, Com-Art colors combine the finest-ground exclusive hydrocarbon base - a natural resin that's non-toxic and environmentally safe. The chemistry is just right. The results are dynamic. Com-Art colors are everyL thing you always wanted in air" brush paints. And then some.
RICHARD ROMEO The Relaxation Machine;
12V2 x 19; 1980;
Courtesy: Broward Magazine.
Discus Fish; 15 x 24; 1981; Gouache; Courtesy: New Florida Magazine.
Romeo's illustrations have appeared throughout the country in all areas of business, including: advertising, publishing, television, packaging, pharmaceuticals, fashion, medical and cartooning. He is extremely versatile, and works in a broad range of media and techniques.
VARGA GIRL CALENDAR In 1940, Esquire presented the Varga Girl--a vibrantly sensual airbrushed painting by Peruvian artist Alberto Vargas. Shortly thereafter, the magazine began printing Varga Girl calendars in answer to unprecedented demand. The 1945 and 1946 calendars each sold nearly 3 million copies. For soldiers, especially, the Varga Girl represented the ultimate daydream, the perfect -contrast to life at war. Now Esquire, in conjunction with Harry N. Abrams, 1nc.-internationally known for its fine art reproductions-is pleased to reintroduce the Varga Girl in a beautifully crafted replica of the 1946 calendar. The calendar, sure to become a collector's item, features 13 of Vargas' best paintings. Viewed with contemporary sensibilities, these paintings a-, 1 Send to AIRBRUSH ACTION have multi-faceted value. They're highly aesthetic. They P.O. Box 73, Lakewood, NI 08701 convey an understated eroticism. They're funny (each being accompanied by light verse) and they're nostalgic. Please send me -copy(ies) of the The calendar will make a perfect gift, whether for Esquire Varga Cirl Calendar 1986 at someone with a new-found appreciation for popular $7.95 each art from the '40s or for a World War I1 veteran who Check enclosed fondly remembers hanging the Please add $2.00 per order for postage original calendars by his bunk. And it will be a fascinating and handling conversation piece and a visual ! -, . , delight throughout the year. 1 Name
I I I I I I I
I 1 I I I I
SIZE: 11x 14%" $7.95 To Order By Phone Toll Free 1-800-232-7874 (NJ Residents 1-201-364-2111) Full Refind if not completely satisfied
i I I
State -Zip (NJ residents add 6% sales tax) VCOl
JULY-AUGUST, 1985/AIRBRUSH ACTION
Palulian Commercial illustrator Dickran Palulian, 46, has used an airbrush exclusively in his work for the last fourteen years. Palulian (his name is Armenian) was born in Pontiac, Mich., and grew up in Detroit. Palulian's studio is on the upper floor of the home he shares with his wife and twelve-yearold daughter in Rowayton, Conn., a town he describes as "just a tiny community in southern Fairfield County, which is about as close to New York as you can get and still be in Connecticut." Palulian's homeistudio is just a block from Long Island Sound, close enough for casual strolls on the nearby beach.
AIRBRUSH ACTIONIIULY-AUGUST, 1985
observe thinas that hiwpvpen to me, that reflect my life, I try to incorporate that growth in some way in what I am
ABA: Dick, how has your style evolved? Palulian: Back in the sixties, music had a great influence on what was going on in the art world. Pushpin Graphics started to influence the way people looked at art. The more traditional forms of illustration, which we would probably categorize as boy-girl or pocketbook, like the ladies' magazines and the pocketbook art, seems almost nostalgic, even
though some terrific illustrators are still doing this. The whole Woodstock thing-the music, the way people were, the clothing, the freedom, and, of course, the Viet Nam war protests4 think artwork started to reflect that. Dyes were very popular then, Dr. Martin's, preform shapes a la Glaser, Alcorn, and other artists, but everyone was influenced in some way. Even I was doing things with some very acid colors. But a
JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION 23
decade after that, the mid-seventies, we hit a new stride in technology. Things were happening in the world. Computer's came into our lives. Technically reproduced music. As I observe things that happen to me, that reflect my life, I try to incorporate that growth in some way in what I'm doing. ABA: In terms of education, what is your background in art? Palulian: I only had two years of art school in Detroit. At that time I was a very serious painter, but I wanted to try out commercial areas, so after two years I thought I had learned all I could under tutelage, and I wanted to get out and paint and also get into the business. My painting eventually suffered because I got very involved with the career. In Detroit my career started as a car stuffer and a background painter. In those days I
worked primarily on car catalogs. Every year they would pick an illustrator and do backgrounds for a catalog and he would do the figures standing around the cars and of course stuffing the cars with happy people. All I can say about that part of my career is that I learned a lot of discipline, I learned how to use a camera, which I'm thankful for, and I learned how to work with models. ABA: So your background is in fine arts. Where did you learn to use the airbrush? Palulian: In the Detroit studios in the sixties. I was experimenting with washes then. For years I had worked with some of the best car illustrators in the country. I used to disdain the airbrush, they did too, because they felt that laying down washes with a brush was the way to do it. Later, though, as3ignments interfered, and
they couldn't take the time. With the airbrush, they could more rapidly put in a hood, a side, the wheels, whatever. Eventually, the airbrush was kind of like a shotgun to car illustrators; each had one at his board. I just started picking it up and using it in conjunction with the washes I was doing, maybe making a flat background and incorporating some clouds. And more and more I kept using it. ABA: Can you be any more specific about why they didn't want to use the airbrush? Palulian: They considered it a crutch. ABA: The fine arts community always looked down at airbrush as a commercial artist's tool, but now you tell me that certain commercial artists look down on airbrush as a crutch. Palulian: To me it didn't seem logical. If a person works in pen and ink and happens to use a double-zero Rapidograph instead of a crow-quill pen, how could someone knock the use of that pen? I mean, the end result i s what we're after. Even though you're using an airbrush, you're simply using it as a tool. ABA: Did you have someone there at the studio teaching you? Palulian: No, I just picked it up. Just experimenting with it, saying, "Wow, I can do things with this. I can blow a whole sky". There was a lot of trial and error involved. I don't know how to count the things that you can learn: getting an airbrush too close to the board, using too much air pressure, especially when you're two-thirds through with a piece and you load up the gun too much and it spits. Anybody who uses an airbrush knows what I'm talking about. At the end of the sixties I came to New York, and I was working almost exclusively with an airbrush. ABA: And your move here was because of the market? Palulian: Yes. I really was frustrated as an illustrator, and let's face it, anybody who's serious about a career wants to try and make it in the Apple. I always wanted to come east anyway.
I 1 1983
h 24 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
I ABA: What artists influenced your
ABA: Do you spend a long time
thinking and planning? Palulian: Yes. Generally, when I get an assignment, I sit and visualize the piece'as done with the colors I want to use. I see it completely finished, and I try to match that on the board when I render it. ABA: It doesn't always come up to expectations? Palulian: No, it doesn't but I've been fairly successful as far as getting the color balance I want and also the mood. The mood is important. "isualizing this specific assignment and what it's going to say, the color is very important. Of course, the concept is number one, and then the composition. I really lean on concept. I believe that the way an idea is presented is fifty percent of a good illustration. I think the rendering i s secondary. If it's a terrible idea, even a great rendering won't save it. ABA: Suppose that after you've gone through the research, the photogra-
Palulian: There aren't too many peo-
ple around who haven't been somewhat influenced by Charlie White. He was a pioneer in using the airbrush commercially. I've always liked his stuff. Of course, Salvador Dali still looms as my greatest influence, both cerebally and technically. ABA: Whom do you get your assignments from? An art rep? Palulian: Some come in through my reputation. ABA: SO people do call YOU directly? Palulian: Yes. Clients that I have worked with for years, certain magazines that know what I do. They call me when they know they have an assignment. Other assignments come in through an ad in one of the talent directories. Very few assignments come in through direct contacting-going out and chasing down a job, showing your book. I don't generally get work like that, al- though it does happen. ABA: How many years did it take you to reach this point? Palulian: I would say seven or eight years. ABA: What would you say was your first significant job, your breakthrough job? Palulian: It was with Sports Illustrated, a two-color job on hockey. At that time I was doing nostalgiatype period pieces-you know, deco borders and things-but I was able to use a stylized format. Even though the figures had to look like specific hockey players, I was able to stylize the dress. That was my first bigmoney job. ABA: And it was national exposure? Palulian: Yes. But I don't know what I got out of that. ABA: It's hard to attribute your success to one particular piece? Palulian: That's right. I don't think I could attribute it to one assignment. ABA: How big a part does color play in the planning of the illustration? Palulian: A third of the illustration is the color.
1980 Client: NEC Electronics
coricept is numher one, and then the composition\\ -
I JULY-AUGUST, 1985/AIRBRUSH ACTION
canvas with oil would take me much too long to complete.\\
ble. He did not. He felt that what I had submitted were simply doodles. But they were my ideas, and they took a certain amount of time. ABA: How was it resolved? Palulian: I settled. I didn't get what I wanted. He absolutely refused to pay me what I wanted. ABA: Did you ever have to go to court over something like that? Palulian: No. ABA: Are client conflicts a constant problem? Palulian: It's not a constant problem, but it's there. Also, sometimes there are misunderstandings on the client's part when you state that your artwork must be returned. It's usually stated on the invoice and made very clear that the artwork must be returned. ABA: Is there a term for one-time specific use? Palulian: Well, it's just that-onetime specific use. The agreement should be specified on the purchase order. ABA: Are you paid less for one-time use than you are for a work-for-hire piece? Palulian: I do not accept work-forhire assignments. I am very committed to artist's rights and a workfor-hire arrangement negates a creator's rights. ABA: After the art director agrees to a sketch, do vou have him sign - the sketch? Palulian: No, it's kind of a gentlemen's agreement with a client once the sketch is approved. ABA: Do your sketches include any color? Palulian: I don't do color sketches. I get asked from time to time, but due to the nature of the technique, if they require color sketches there's an additional fee because I literally have to do it on the board with an airbrush and frisket. ABA: Is it almost like doing a finished illustration? Palulian: Yes. ABA: Can you give me a general idea of how you price a job?
phy, the hours of involvement, the sketches, the client decides that they don't seem to be able to get out of you what they're looking for. Do they offer you a token payment, or do you bill them? How does that work generally? Palulian: Generally, I think you have to ask for it. They're not going to pay you unless you insist. ABA: How do you figure out what to bill? Palulian: That's difficult, because there are extenuating circumstances. I'll use a specific example. I was called in to do a cover for a major national magazine to submit ideas that I would be paid for. At that time they just assumed, and so did I, that one of my ideas was going to be picked to go to finish. The sketches and the finished illustration would be covered by one price. What happened was that none of the sketches were acceptable to the editor and the art director. The assignment was terminated. But the art director felt that what I was asking for was too much money. What I took into consideration was that thinking that this job would evolve as a finished piece of artwork, I had turned down two other assignments. So I was out not only the assignment I was working on, but the other two as well. 1 felt that the compensation of a thousand dollars was accepta-
I 26 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST,1985
g g t : Availco
Palulian: Generally, with magazines, you almost always have to work within the budget of the magazine. Of course, this varies from Sports Illustrated to Time to Newsweek. Time pays a specific price for its covers. You work for that price or you don't work for Time, but you have to take into consideration the exposure that Time will give you, if it's the right assignment for you. ABA: What is that price-are you at liberty to say? Palulian: I think Time is still paying between three and four thousand dollars for a cover. ABA: What about for an inside illustration? Palulian: I don't know. ABA: Have you done a cover for Time?
Palulian: I really hate talking about this. It was for a magazine that's no longer in business, New Times: a cover John F. Kennedy riding in the motorcade as the second bullet hit his head. When I accepted this assignment, it was not supposed to go beyond a certain point. I did a graphic portrait of Kennedy, but the art director and the editor felt that there was not enough blood in it. The art director came to my house and waited for me to put in more blood. I'd come down from the studio and he'd say, "I want more here," and I'd go back up to the studio and put in more. I was so angry I was doing this that at one point I wanted to break the painting over my leg. I kept asking myself over and over again, why did I take this assignment? I didn't
ABA: What would your advice be to an up-and-coming artist who doesn't really like a project that is being offered? Palulian: It is very tough for anyone who is starting out, trying to build a portfolio and make a living without selling his or her soul. Everyone has to find their own way. I would say that the first thing to consider when offered an assignment is that it's a business. If you want to be a commercial artist, the word commercial means it's a business, and you've got to remember that. There are two questions of importance: "Am I going to make a living on this?" and "Am I going to look good on this?" If the answer to either is clearly no, you should turn the assignment down. I know it's very tough, especially when
assignment, too. If it's a gorgeous assignment, you can make a cost adjustment. I do not mean that you should cut your price in half, but you can make an adjustment. ABA: What about an editorial illus-
Palulian: I would say probably a twopage spread would be twenty-five hundred to three thousand, a single ABA: Have you ever won any art Palulian: A regional award when I lived in Detroit, but I exhibit in just about every annual there is. I haven't won any golds or silvers in the Society of Illustrators show. But I've exhibited Graphis and CA. ABA: What was the most controversial painting you've ever done?
Client: Litton, Inc.
JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION 27
do it, some other artist will. These young artists subsidize these magazines. If a magazine can't pay a fair rate, it shouldn't be in business. And it shouldn't make money off of you. You enhance the magazine; you make the magazine look good. ABA: So, your advice is to be discriminating without overstepping principles. Palulian: That's right. But everyone has to find their own way. 1 don't know of any artist who hasn't gone through this kind of tempering and learning how to price themselves to make a living and do something good. A good rep can circumvent that trial. ABA: How do you find a good rep? Palulian: I wish someone could tell me, (laughs). ABA: How do you find a rep, good or bad? Palulian: Talent directories andlor the Society of Photographer's and Artist's Representatives. (Editor's Note: Society of Photographer's and Art-
ist's Representatives, 1123 Broadway, Room 914, New York, New York, 10010, 212-924-6012). Or, you can even ask other artists. I don't know many artists that have not gone through several reps, Ultimately it's a marriage; either it works or it doesn't. A rep has to understand what you're doing and what you want to do. The merger also has to be profitable. ABA: What's the usual commission arrangement? Palulian: Generally between twentyfive and thirty percent. If you are out of town, the rep will usually require thirty percent because of the costs of doing business by phone and expediting artwork. ABA: Do you feel the commission is justified? Palulian: Oh yes. My wife has been an artist's representative for the past seven years or so. But I've been able to see how much work she does, sending portfolios out to agencies and designers across the country. Some-
times the portfolios aren't returned when they should be, and follow-up phone calls are necessary. Yes, the reps fee is justified. Reps do work hard. One more good thing about reps: There are many artists who are not good at showing their own work. They don't know how to negotiate. They might have a price in mind, but when an art director or account rep comes in and says, "This is all we havew-which may or may not be true--if the artist is not a good negotiator, he's his own worst enemy. A good rep will of course negotiate for the highest price. ABA: Do they negotiate more than just price? Palulii: Yes, negotiating usage rights is as important as negotiating the price. Most agency assignments involve buyout+the artwork and the reproduction rights. ABA: Does a buyout cost more? Palulian: Usually double. It always seems to be a shocker when you double your price, but you explain to them that it really is a bargain because they have both physical ownership of the original art and all reproduction rights. ABA: Are buyouts common? Palulian: More so than you might think. A lot of artists just do an assignment and don't worry whether they're going to get the piece back or not. ABA: The client has possession of the piece and keeps it. Palulian: Exactly. Once a work-forhire purchase order is signed, the piece is gone. Since the inception of the Graphic Artists Guild has there been more interest in artists' retaining usage rights and their artwork. Also in the last ten years, there's been a great interest in illustration itself, in the collecting of illustrative art going back to J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, and JamesMontgomery Flagg. ABA: How do you get your work back?Writing on the back that you request its return? Do you have it written in your contract?
1982 Client: HoffmanLa Roche Laboratories 28 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
Palulian: Both. But many times you have to follow through, call the art director, ask if it's back from the engraver and if you can pick it up or have it sent. You have to stay in touch with artwork that hasn't been returned to you, if that's in fact what is supposed to happen. ABA: Who pays for its return? Do you? Palulian: Generally, yes. Or I would arrange to have it picked up. The longer it stays out there, the more chances there are for it to disappear. ABA: You mentioned the Graphic Artists Guild before. What is it? Palulian: Several years ago, a number of artists and illustrators with national reputations met in New York and decided that artists really needed some sort of guild that would give them recognition and clout in negotiating with agencies concerning usage rights and ownership of their artwork and would also lobby to make these rights law. The guild also publishes ethical guidelines and pricing structures. (Editor's Noteaddress of Graphic Artists Guild is 30 East 20th Street, New York, New York 10003, 21 2-777-7353.). ABA: I see. So if you run into a problem that you can't resolve . . . Palulian: . . . they can refer you to an attorney, or you can take your grievance to their joint ethics committee. ABA: In other words, they are the Better Business Bureau for the graphic arts industry. How about the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts? Do you use their services? Palulian: I haven't, but I do know of their existence. I do retain an attorney who is well versed in dealing with specific problems that confront artists. He understands that artists aren't just people who sit around in their attics and paint because they love to paint, at least in a business sense. ABA: What's your daily schedule like? Is it set? Palulian: No, I'm really terrible when it comes to discipline. I'm very loose. If I'm busy, I like to be in the studio
ABA: I notice you have a respirator.
by nine-thirty and generally work until about noon. I like to go for a five-mile run, come back with my head full of oxygen and take a shower, and work until maybe fivethirty. If the schedule demands it, then I might work a couple of hours at night. ABA: What about weekends? Palulian: I'm generally on a sevenday schedule unless my wife and daughter have something planned. ABA: What's the most time you ever put into a painting? Palulian: I think about two and a half to three weeks. ABA: What's the average time? Palulian: Ten to twelve days. ABA: How do you deliver these pieces? Are they shipped, or do you hand-deliver them? Palulian: They're shipped to out-oftown clients. To nearby clients, my wifelrep hand-delivers them. Messengers make her nervous, but in a pinch we'll use a local company. ABA: How do you advise artists to send their work? Palulian: Federal Express is one of the best at expediting and getting there on time. I've used everybody.
How often do you use it and when:
Palulian: I generally use a mask when I'm laying down large expanses of color, because of the dust. I should really have an exhaust fan, but I don't. In fact, anyone who uses an airbrush should have an exhaust fan. ABA: You use gouache, and you mix it on a white porcelain tray. Why do you use a porcelain tray, rather than color cups? Palulian: I think it's easier, especially when you're using small amounts of color. Even if it's dry, I can just use a little water to rewet it. ABA: You always load it into your airbrush with a brush? Palulian: Yes. ABA: And you use CO, tanks rather than a small compressor. Why? Palulian: I keep thinking I'm going to get a compressor, but I don't. The tanks have become a habit. ABA: I see you use a spray box, a cardboard box with a hole in it to spray into when cleaning the airbrush. Is that something of your own design? Palulian: Some of the car men in Detroit use that. I picked it up from
1984 Client: Discover Magazine I
then it goes out the window because a printer can't match it. I've been accused I don't know how many times by printers of using an acid or a Day-Glo color. I don't use any artificial brighteners or anything. i use a mixture of tones to get that brightness. For example, when I wanted an intense red, I put a pale tone of , cadmium yellow under it and then went back over it very lightly with plain red or scarlet. This gave me a very intense red. Well, they couldn't match it. They couldn't bring it out. But that's what happens with printers. You just have to look the other way. Younger artists who are trying to get their stuff in print to build a portfolio ought to know this. They get their proofs, then they get the magazine and look at the tearsheet, and say "what happened?" ABA: They should stand and mourn then? Palulian: No, it's a fact of life. You them. It works. You can hang a rag have to realize that you're dealing in there and then throw the rag out with someone in a different area altogether. He's not concerned that when its saturated. ABA: That's a good idea. Do you much with reproduction. He has a clean your airbrush just by dunking contract to print x number of magit in a bowl of water and spraying it azines. Some of them might come through? out good. Some of them come out Palulian: Yes. I try to put about two bad. Most of the time they come out cups of water through it before I'm not so good. going to hang it up. If it's really ABA: What's so special about the clogged, I'll run some acetone airbrush to you? You use it almost through it. exclusively. ABA: Your lighting-l notice you Palulian: Yes, I do use it exclusively. have a mixture of flourescent tubes I think it's because as a tool it can here. Is this specific lighting? do things for me that I couldn't do Palulian: Yes. It's warm and cool. It otherwise. To get the same feeling will give you about the best mix. You on canvas with oil would take me take your work out in the light and much too long to complete. Most asit's going to look different. 1 would signments allow you only two weeks love to be able to say I care about from sketch to finish. what it looks like in natural light, but ABA: So among other things, it's a that's not where ,lople see it. Peo- time saver? ple look at it in , : , office. Palulian: Yes. I think I would say ABA: What abet,, ,~hotomechanical that's number one, because if you're reproduction? going to make a living in a realistic Palulian: They could use quartz, or style and work within the boundait could be studio strobes. Strobe is ries of the advertising business, time balanced to daylight. You don't know is essential. Clients will not give you if they're using it so the best thing is two or three months to complete a to look at a chrome after it's been painting. The airbrush affords me the shot, and compare. If there's a var- luxury of doing a slick piece of work iance of more than ten percent, we've in ten to fourteen days, and that's important. got problems. ABA: Where do you compare it? ABA: I noticed you work with an air Here? Under these lights? eraser. How do you use it? Palulian: Usually on a light box. The Palulian: I use it not for mistakes but frustrating thing about reproduction usually to highlight certain areas ini s that you work so hard to get a spe- stead of using a zinc white. Zinc cific tone or color to a piece, and white--in fact all whites I've used,
keep a pretty good scrap file. I'm a'mad
30 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
even the most intense opaques-affects the color around it. If you want a hot spot, you're going to cloud the area around it, and you're going to get a different cast. But the air eraser will give you the surface of the board; it will give you a more realistic burnout if it's on chrome. However, it's messy because it sprays an abrasive powder and it's terrible to breath. ABA: How do you protect yourself when you do use that? Palulian: I use the mask, and I try to vacuum right after. But I would recommend anybody using it to have a booth and an exhaust fan. Everyone should have an exhaust fan. ABA: Dick, how many airbrushes do you have?What kinds are they? Palulian: I have a total of six airbrushes. I still lean to the Thayer & Chandler Model A, but I am trying the Olympos out, and I have two Paasche's. I have the AB, which is probably one of the finest on the market, but I'm not happy using it. I really look for a versatile brush that has a certain amount of fineness to it but also lets me open it up and cover a broader expanse. I'm really terrible about changing things over and moving from one brush to the other. I'm lazy when it comes to that. I want to spend all my time on the particular piece I'm working on and not experimenting with brushes. ABA: Do you generally spray at twenty-five to thirty pounds pressure? Palulian: Right. ABA: Do you have any equipment horror stories, things that went wrong? Palulian: Yes, probably the worst thing for me since I use CO, tanks was leaving a valve open on Saturday night and discovering the leak whtn I came up to finish the piece on Sunday. Luckily, I was able to borrow a tank from a friend and finish the piece by the Monday morning deadline. ABA: What mechanical problems have you had with airbrushes and airbrushing? And what solutions to these problems have you come up with? Palulian: Well, the first thing is to keep your airbrush clean. All you need do is rinse it out every time you use it and pay attention to cleaning: take the needle out and take a very, very fins-say, quadruple-zersteel-wool pad and just run it along the needle to get any of the excess
Palulian's Studio INTENSIFIED EDUCATION IS PLEASED TO OFFER
off. If you use acrylics or gouache like I do, it's mandatory. You shouldn't have too many problems, but, of course, airbrushes do wear, and from time to time you have to replace the nozzle. As a safety valve, I always keep one good airbrush in the wings in case one quits on me. ABA: And a spare CO, tank? Palulian: And a CO, tank, right. ABA: Can you tell us what you know about working with friskets and stencils? Cutting and removing them? Palulian: I make my own friskets. I use a medium frisket paper on which I put probably five or six very thin watery coats of rubber cement. I let one dry and put the next one on. I brush it on using a wide brush, and if there is any residue I can always gently pick it up with a rubber cement pickup. The only hazard in using a frisket that you prepare yourself is that if you've got a crucial area that you have frisketed off and you're blowing in a rather heavy or dense background, you've got to seal the frisket with the rubber cement and apply a thinner with cotton around the edges. Otherwise it will bleed and cause problems. You will find yourself opaquing the edges. ABA: Is the frisket paper you use like glassine paper? Palulian: Yes. ABA: Is it translucent?
Palulian: Semitranslucent. ABA: What kind of frisket knife do you use? Palulian: I use just the average XActo knife, number eleven. ABA: Do you use a swivel? Palulian: No, I hate the swivel. It just doesn't work for me for some reason. But the templates I use are generally mat acetate, which I cut. ABA: And you hold it down with weights? Palulian: No, I generally tape it to the top and lift it. If I want a soft edge. I will lift it and blow so that some of the pigment will drift underneath. But you have to be careful of the pressure and the amount of paint that is coming out of the nozzle so you don't get too much of a soft edge. In other words, you can get a duplicate edge. ABA: How much do you pay attention to edges? Very often airbrushed work has that frisketed appearance. Palulian: 1 pay a lot of attention to edges because that is one of the pitfalls of the technique. ABA: I am glad to hear you say that. I have always thought that if you don't pay enough attention to those edges, it ruins the impact. Palulian: Exactly. It does look like it's been frisketed and something has been blown either in back of it or in front of it. I think that's what some-
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times gives art directors a negative feeling about the technique. It looks as if it were airbrushed. ABA: Do you keep your edges atmospheric? Palulian: Yes, even if I have to go in and very carefully touch the lines up with a little opaque or whatever. ABA: With a small brush? Like a triple-zero? Palulian: Right, exactly. I think it's very important. I think that young artists using the airbrush have a tendency to overlook this, and ultimately it shows in the work. Cleanness is what we are really after. ABA: Do you use an opaque projector? Palulian: Yes, but sparingly. I like to draw most of my images. I will use it in a pinch, and to do a loose underlay, and then I will do several other drawings from it. When drawing a hand, I will start with a photograph, a very tight photograph. I try to get a hand with long thin fingers because a normal hand is going to look.stubby, and even then I have to stretch the fingers even longer to get the feeling so I will use a projector to sketch the hand out the size I want it. Then I will make several drawings from it, improving it further. ABA: Do you keep an idea file? Palulian: Not really a file. I do keep tissues of ideas that I want to use. It has happened that an idea rejected by me or by an art director has been perfect for a later assignment. I do keep a pretty good scrap file. I'm a mad clipper. Everything ends up in a pile on the floor. Months later I will spend a whole day looking for something I know is in there! ABA: Is it well advised for people to catalog their ideas? Palulian: Absolutely. ABA: In what size do you generally work and why? Palulian: It depends on the subject. I don't like to work super large. If I work super, super large, I'm going to have to put in more detail than I normally would, so I try to work in a comfortable area. A rule of thumb is probably anywhere from one-third to one-half up from reproduction. Only a subject that really needs a lot of detail would I blow up 100 percent. If it doesn't require as much detail, perhaps 50 percent up. ABA: What can you tell us about the kind of creative process involved in
working out the concept? Palulian: If my rep hands me a layout and says, "Here it is. Call the guy tomorr?~", I have the luxury of thinking about the piece for several hours. I can ask myself, Can I make this look good? Would I be happy with this? Would I be happy signing this piece when I'm through with it? On the other hand, when an art director calls and says, "I have this assignment, this is what it is, I really need to know pretty quick", you've really got to think quickly. ABA: If you say you're interested, does the art director furnish you with a general concept as a sketch? Palulian: Yes. But I think most people prefer the freedom of coming up with their own piece, their concept. The ideal situation i s to have an art director call you and say, "I have a manuscript, would you read it, tell me what you think about it, and if you like the story would you like to do a couple of sketches and then we'll talk about it." That's the way I like to work. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen as often as it should, and most of the time you get a call for a spe-
mately it's a marrage; either it works or
it doesn't. \\
JULY-AUGUST, 19851AIRBRUSH ACTION 33
American Showcase? Palulian: Unfortunately, it seems that this has become the only game in town as a way to attract new clients or tell people where you are. In one way it is great for new talent to be able to buy an ad and get their faces out into the buying community. ABA: Should up-and-coming artists invest in self-promotional materials, and what should those self-prornotional materials be comprised of? Palulian: If you're not ready, you shouldn't be taking an ad in a talent directory really. You should be very selective. If you're thinking about taking a page and you don't think you have the right pieces, wait another year. Keep working. I've seen artists jump in and put a page together and find that the page has done more harm than good in the long run. If they'd waited maybe another year, their style and the subject matter would have had a little more polish to it. That would have meant putting a better foot forward. Once you're out on that page, good or bad, you're letting it all hang out. ABA: How does an artist know when he's ready to make that move? Palulian: If you're fortunate enough. to have a rep, the two of you together should be able to work that out. Also, it doesn't hurt to talk to other artists who are working. I know probably some younger artists will be reluctant to call someone that they think is a "star", but if you respect someone's work, don't be hesitant. If you're not afraid of what they're going to say, send a book of slides to them and ask what they think. That will give you an indication. ABA: That's a good gauge. Palulian: It sure is. 34 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
aysport a beachscene,lushwith palmtreesand sea g r a s s . q m a y feature a custom car, pain detailed, duplicated exactly from a color photo. be a tattered, faded relic from another year, the wellworn, well-loved victim of too much sun and soapsuds. ' is the essential souvenir, the irrefutable proof I
that the wearer toured PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA. 36 AIRBRUSH ACTION/JULY-AUGUST,1985
or the teenagers, that airbrushed T-shirt is as much a part of the Beach trip as the pyramid of beer cans carefully stacked in the hotel room and the broken flip-flops abandoned in the sand. For a scrappy colony of artists, that T-shirt is a living. At Panama City Beach, high-rise condominiums spring up beside faded mini golf courses, and homey mom-and-pop souvenir shops vie with new clusters of trendy boutiques. The skyline is changing; the apparel is not. In 1974, two lone airbrush artists held off hordes of teenagers at one Beach shop. Now, between 250 and 300 artists ply their trade at about 60 locations here. Some are housed in large shops with endless racks of shirts, neon-laced displays, and bustling helpers. Others operate in openair shacks that spring up overnight, peering around colorful shirts that flap in the breeze. Sprawling beside the white sand and shimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Beach welcomes a healthy dose of tourists from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisi-
ana, and Kentucky. Less exotic than its name, Panama City Beach has long been dubbed the Redneck Riviera, to the chagrin of local tourist officials, who tout the condo lifestyle and neon lights. Regardless of image, the ranks swell, from 1.3 million visitors in 1980 to an estimated 2.5 million people this summer. Those tourists are particularly loyal to the airbrush art found on every corner. While custom-airbrushed Tshirts were a late-1970s fad that came and went in other tourist meccas, artists find a haven here during the 90-day summer season. The continuing popularity of the airbrushed designs is a mystery even to the artists. Chris Timm has spent 11 years airbrushing at Panama City Beach but has never believed the boom i s real. "I'm still amazed that all this is still here," Timm admits. The neon-lit aura is one attraction. "One reason is the sheer momentum," Timm says. "People see 200 or so signs for airbrush, and they start to think this is something they might want." The ever-increasing number of airbrush artists is both an asset and
liability, artist Chris Kopko agrees. "There's an excitement generated by the competition." Other artists find that tradition tugs their customers, southerners with strong roots, back to the airbrush booths. "We're getting kids whose parents got a shirt when they were young," says artist Pat Gaines. "We get college kids who saw their older brothers get an airbrushed shirt on their spring break, so they go ahead and do it too." Still, artists fear that the increasing competition could drive them all out. "Just because of the quantity, you naturally see a lot that's not very good," says Tim Mitchell of Airbrush Attic. "People buy from them and it gives airbrush a bad name. Airbrush comes to mean a rip-off." To battle that, artists continually seek new designs and new ways to present their wares. The explosion of New Wave designs several years ago gave new life to the traditional beach scenes. The sharp triangles and checkerboard designs incorporate the waves-and-sunset scenes, while other graffitti-influenceddesigns strike more original ground. Timm, a popular artist at the Surf Shak, accents hi- ' -- - - - - ' - I - - ' -
summer sun. mark housing a restaurant and radio station. Behind the tower is Miracle Strip Amusement Park. About every third building on the Beach features an airbrush artist's booth. (Left) Airbrush artists i n Panama City Beach will decorate most anything a tourist could desire. Here, a typical Beach design on a T-shirt. JULY-AUGUST, 1985lAIRBRUSH ACTION 37
Airbrush artist Pat Caines whips out tourist-oriented designs in Trader Rick's, a Panama City Beach shop. Craffitti and beach scenes are the hottest items this summer.
display with neon and flanks the booth with televisions pulsing with music videos. The appreciative young audience bobs along with the beat, watching Timm transform a basic T into a custom creation. One lithe young creature suggests that the wait would be sweetened by a Budweiser. "Hmm, how about an AirBrew shop?: Timm muses, only half kidding. "Sip a beer, buy a shirt. Innovation will keep the market strong," says the artist. "To keep airbrush alive in this area, you've got to keep it changing, keep it current." The past and the present are both dominated by visionary airbrush painter Kenn Allbright. Allbright was the pied piper, urging his friends toward the opportunities on the Gulf Coast in the mid-1970s' and his influence remains in the work of those who followed him there. The scene began at the Surf Hut, a Beach landmark with weatherbeaten surfboards atop the roof and sand, not linoleum, underfoot. "That place had a kind of tradition, even then," says airbrush artist Mark McLaughlin. "It was a place to hang around, trade ideas, talk." McLaughlin, a Cincinnati native, was lured to the coast by Allbright and faced the first horrifying Alabama Education Association week at the Surf Hut. During AEA, all high school and college students in Alabama are 38
Airbrush artist Chris Kopko works on two designs at Trader Rick's in Panama City Beach. Kopko's specialty is New Wave graphics, a wild new trend i n Beach T-shirts.
set free, and tens of thousands race cepted by the Beach businessmen. to Panama City Beach in desperate "At first, you couldn't talk people into putting them in a store," Mcsearch of fun. "I was 19 and airbrushing at Surf Laughlin says. "Airbrush artists were Hut," he remembers, "and I'd look transients. Now, it's become a traout and there would be a sea of kids, dition. You have to have one in your just waves of 'em coming at me. We store. "You're important to the store. were the only ones airbrushing, I've had store owners come to my then." Timm was at his side. "Peo- door and get me up in the morning ple were so unfamiliar with air- to go to work." The artists add a personal touch, brush, they'd just hand, you $5 or $10 and say, 'Paint me a shirt,' " he not only to a shirt but to the store says with a laugh. "They had noth- itself. "A lot of times, people buy from you because they like you," ing to compare it to." Rob Oakes was also 19, a car- Timm says. But the customer contoonist recently booted from art tact can be frustrating. "A lot of peoschool, when McLaughlin dragged ple make fun of tourists," he conhim to the Surf Hut. "He told the fesses. "But I've been a tourist." Still, owner I was a bit rusty," Oakes "they'll come up and point to a dislaughed. "I'd never done airbrush play and say, 'Well, that shirt has before. It was trial by fire, basic Diane written on it. Can I put my training." A disc jockey broadcast- name on it instead?' and I have to ing live from the store coined the wonder if I ever say things that are nickname, Robo, that has remained so . . . ,"Timm trails off with a rueful laugh. with Oakes for ten years. Oakes, a friendly, funny man, chats The artists continued trickling in, two or three at a time, with their vans, with customers to dispel any awkcampers, and airbrushes. Facing a wardness the conservative southern short tourist season, many of the art- tourists feel about his long, unkempt ists traveled south in the winter, hair. But the conversation is not an catching tourist seasons in Key West effort. "They're happy, they're on and the islands. At Panama City vacation," Robo says. "You're seeing Beach, artists hopped from one store people at their best." His thatched to another. McLaughlin, who has booth at Shipwreck Shirts is inworked at ten locations in ten years, tended to foster that mood. "They're introduces another artist as "the most looking for 'Floridaness,' " Oakes says, waving at the Gilligan's Island hired and fired man on the Beach." The free spirits weren't always ac- decor. "It's not like going to the mall
Illustrated by Keith Harmer using the
NTAVE: FRANKLIN PARK,IL6 Distin Canadaby:
(Top) Artist Rob "Robo" Oakes displays his work at his shop. The bamboo and thatch booth, set inside a typical tourist souvenir shop, i s designed to give visitors a relaxed tropical feeling, Oakes said. (Center) Along this colorful tourist strip is Trader Rick's, where artists ply their trade during the 90-day summer season. (Bottom) "Robo" Oakes advertises his trade with an eyecatching sign outside Shipwreck Shirts on Panama City Beach. Many of the artists are given free rein to decorate the shops that they work in.
40 AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
of the T-shirts, and the artists make their money by keeping between 70 and 80 percent or the cost of the airbrush work. While some artists realize $1,000 weeks during the peak tourist season, the average is $10 to $50 per day. With most designs costing $4 to $6, that income comes from steady work. A custom shirt featuring a portrait, car, or other detailed art will bring about $50 but will take two to three hours. Ten minutes, a quick artist can produce three beach scenes for the same amount of money. "You like to do custom work, and try to give it your best shot, to show how good you are," Mitchell explains, "but the time it takes and the griping about the price make you shy away from it." The relaxed Gulf Coast atmosphere has led to a less competitive climate in Panama City Beach, artists say. The secretive, designhoarding attitude is seldom seen here. "Everybody gets along so well," Timm says. "There's plenty for everybody, so nobody feels threatened." The give-and-take of ideas leads to a better product for all the artists, Gaines feels. "We share our ideas and techniques," he says. "That's why the airbrush here is better than in other towns." Early designs were closer to the work typically performed at carnivals-cartoons, bubble letters, cars, trucks. "We did quick, bright, colorful designs," says Oakes. Looking over his display, a spread ranging from funky cartoons to Japanese-style minimalist patterns, Oakes recalls the design pinnacle in the early years. "The most exotic display on the beach would have a day scene and a night scene," he said. For inspiration, artists check magazines, fashions, music videos, and each others' work. "If anybody thinks people are plagiarizing, they're kidding themselves," Kopko offers. "Ultimately, it's two palm trees, a boat, and a bird." By requesting combinations of various design elements, customers also create new designs. Kopko and Gaines share space and ideas at Trader Rick's. "We work off one another," Kopko says. "Sometimes I'll do a design and Pat will work off of it. It's not a set process." Kopko and Gaines put a twist on the traditional; for example, they feature beach scenes with small squares
falling off. "You can add all the New Wave graphics," Kopko says, "but for making money there's nothing like the beach scenes." Most Beach artists use a combination of stencils and freehand drawing. "Freehand is time-consuming, and that means money," Gaines says. "It might look great, but if it costs too much and takes too long, it's no good. I could do all these little things to make it look better, but then I'd turn around and they'd be going nuts waiting for me to finish. They want to get out to the beach." And tourists still want the tropical scenes. Mac Bibby, of Airbrush Attack, spreads his arms wide, aiming imaginary arcs of paint at an unsuspecting shirt. "I could give you a work of art. But there's no call for that. That's not what people want." During the winter, Bibby designs silkscreened shirts for a local firm. "I'm the epitome of an artist's dream," he says. "I work with art all year." As a hedge against the day that people decide they no longer want airbrush art, some artists have begun investing in other projects. With his long ponytail, beret and goatee, and paint-spattered clothes, McLaughlin scarcely looks like a budding businessman, but his airbrush equipment supply company flourishes yearround in a cartoon-bedecked Beach shop. Four years ago, he noted the explosion of artists and a lack of local suppliers and began The Airbrush Outlet. Expanding into catalog sales, McLaughlin combined good business sense with a sense of humor. The low prices are advertised nationally, but Oakes is given free rein with the catalog. The result is steady sales and goofy drawings featuring the antics of Artie, a berettopped artist. McLaughlin now paints at a small shop, the Party Shak. "I'm tired of dealing with families at those big stores," he says. "You try to be friendly to the tourists, but it's a highpressure job. I like to go for the small place now." Without the assemblyline shirt painting ahead of him, McLaughlin can step back, take time, and contemplate art. "I'm a painter and I can get creative," he says. "You could call it art; you could call it folk art. Just because it only costs fifteen dollars doesn't mean anything. Hey, even a teenager should be able to buy a piece of art and wear it home." Timm seeks art in a variety of arenas. During the winter he works on
commercial art and advertising projects and designs and paints signs. Even as the summer season began to heat up, he was working on a poster and a calendar. "There's so much opportunity here, so many avenues," Timm says. "Airbrush is just another thing I do. It's opened doors for me, time after time after time." Timm has perhaps perfected the skill of painting a dozen designs at once, starting with dark colors and working toward the white highlights. He talked one afternoon as he simultaneously painted four T-shirts, two sun visors, a sand dollar, and a velcro-clasp cooler. But he strives for quality as well as quantity. "I hate a hack attitude," Timm professes. "It's
a business, but you have to hit a happy medium." Kopko, a 29-year-old California native, echoes the sentiment. "You have to strike a balance between seeking an aesthetic effect and making a living." Up until the past winter, Kopko traveled in the winter, working ten-day gigs in malls and Tshirt shops. A relative newcomer to the scene, Kopko has made his mark with modern designs in the past five years. "Personally, I'm a New Wave enthusiast," Kopko says. "Some of my better creations are in the New Wave realm." Working on custom designs from people who want an exact copy of a photo, Kopko says continued on page 44
Airbrush artists provide a free show, as well as a personalized T-shirt, to Panama City Beach tourists. The artists at Trader Rick's enhance their booths with neon, music and benches for weary shoppers.
JULY-AUGUST, 1985fAIRBRUSH ACTION 41
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The Utley Company, a supplier of quality art and drafting supplies, is embarking on a program supporting fund raising campaigns. The 2P-F airbrush kit, manufactured by Paasche Airbrush Company, will be offered at a 20 percent savings to fund-raising organizations. Sponsors of this program can realize a $7.00 profit per unit. The 2P-F includes a model H single-action airbrush, two color bottles, two cans of airbrush propellant, and more. With this kit, organizations can promote the use of the airbrush for cake decorating, nursery and bathroom stencilling, T-shirt painting, and other hobby applications. For further information contact Utley Company, Inc., 215 South Highway 23, Genoa, IL 601 35.
DUAL BRUSH-PEN American Tombow, Inc. announces the DUAL BRUSH-PEN featuring a nylon fibre flexible brush and a hard nylon sketching point. A single ink reservoir feeds both tips to deliver a perfect color match. Pens are available in 72 brilliant colors, including 15 shades of gray. Colors are water-base ink, odorless and non-bleed. For more information contact: American Tombow, Inc., 5352 Sterling Center Drive, Westlake Village, CA 91361.
OMNICROM COPIER OMNICROM introduces the OMNICROM 2000, a product that transforms regular plain paper copier copies into whichever color you select. The list of applications for such a product are almost unlimited. Commercial artists, print-
ers, quick printers, offices, schools, sign shops, in fact anyone with a plain paper copier can now transform regular black copies into single or multiple colored images quickly and economicallv. For more information 'contact OMNICROM Systems Corporation, 261 11 Brush Avenue, Cleveland, O H t132; 216-261-0066. '
offers its second generation Fold-away Portable Drawing Table, the Fold-away II. It sports a sleek new look reminiscent of European-designed tables, but this table is American-designed and American-manufactured. The Fold-away II offers optimum versatility. It's an easy-to-carry compact unit that folds to a mere 4" thin when closed, and a stable 4-post drawing table when oDen. It unfolds to a starting height of 29" and reaches a full 45" high when completely extended. The board is Stator's Two-In-One, an easyto-clean plastic laminate that's white on one side and black on the other. Mount with either side as the working surface. The board is easily adjusted to the most comfortable angle for you, from 0" to 40째, and is available in 2 sizes: 30" x 42", and 38" x 48". The Fold-away II base is available in four colors: red, white, black, and blue. . ~ _
For full-color information, write to Stacor Corporation, (a subsidiary of Visual Electronics Corporation), 285 Emmet Street, Newark, N.J. 071 14.
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CLASSIFIED Portable, lightweight, economical source of compressed air. Airbrush anywhere. Recharge almost anywhere. No electricity required to airbrush. Send for details plus price list of airbrushes and supplies. Bob Sox, Air Show, 5885 Shades Run Lane, Bessemer, AL 35023. CLASSES: AIRBRUSH PAINTING, PHOTO-RETOUCHING, PHOTO-RESTORATION Don't waste your money and time on "WEAK-end" seminars, we offer concentrated, 40 Hr week . long seminars. It takes time to develop airbrush techniques. Our small classes, 16 seats, affords individualized hands on training from experienced instructors. Approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Call or write for your FREE COURSE CATALOG, SCHOOL OF AIRBRUSH ARTS, 1330 S. Villa Ave., Villa Park, IL 60181 (312) 834-7333 AIRBRUSH ACTION is seeking photographs of your studio for an upcoming pictorial. Sloppy or neat, we don't care! All contributors will receive a free AIRBRUSH ACTION T-shirt (specify size--small, medium, or large). Slides, black and white prints or 4 x 5's only. Your name will be published unless otherwise specified. Mail to: AIRBRUSH ACTION MAGAZINE, 317 Cross Street, Lakewood, NJ 08701. Have something to sell or announce concerning the world of the airbrush? AIRBRUSH ACTION'Sclassified section is open to offer a forum for airbrush business. Call 1-800-232-7874 to place an order for an airbrush classified ad. One inch ad is only $54. Estimate a column inch as 30 characters per line. 8 lines per inch.
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Pasadena, California October 4,5,6 The International Society for Airbrush Arts would like to announce their first Western States Airbrush Art Competition. Artwork will be displayed at the Tools of the Trade Show in Pasadena, California October 4, 5, and 6, 1985. Winning entries will also be printed in the NovemberIDecember Issue of AIRBRUSH ACTION Magazine. A jury of distinguished airbrush artists will judge entries in September, 1985. Judges are Robert Anderson, Barbara Rodgers, Dave Willardson, Dave Malone, Paula Kretschmer and David Kimble. Cash prizes will be given to lst, 2nd, and 3rd place winning entries in each category. Categories are commercial illustration, technical illustration, and fine art. States of eligibility are Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Hawaii. Deadline for entries is August 31, 1985. Work being submitted must be completed after 1980. See sponsoring dealers for entry form or write to International Society for Airbrush Arts, Dept. ABA, P.O. Box 69309, Portland, Oregon 97201.
AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
continued from page 4 1 the challenge is trying to avoid too strong a style. "You paint like you see things, or as you'd like to see things," he says. Oakes's best work, like his humor, are just slightly off-kilter. "Cartooning is my forte," he admits. His cartoon characters grace many signs on the Beach, and he also chronicles his friends' adventures in witty, good-natured cartoons. Oakes, 29, came to Panama City with $200 and an old pink car with big fins that wouldn't take him back to Memphis even if he'd wanted to return. He remained o n the G u l f Coast, and his loyalty stuck w i t h striking autos-he now drives a black 1963 Cadillac. Gaines, 30, was seduced from the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, by the quick airbrushing money of the early Panama City Beach days. He learned that the craft was not as easy as it seemed. "The first five or six shirts came back in my face," he confesses. "At the end of the day, I'd made $50. That first summer, my stuff had to be terrible, but all of us were awful, so it didn't matter." Last winter, Gaines began working in Colorado, with contracts in two Vail shops and a Breckenridge store. "It's
a parallel season," he explains. Instead of beach scenes, I ' m d o i n g ski slopes. An airbrush artist can stay busy if he'll travel." Gaines has an eye to the profit margin. "This business is a dream: five hundred dollars' worth of materials can last you all summer and make you eighty thousand dollars." After ten years of airbrushing, Tim Mitchell, 26, is also watching his ledger. Mitchell learned the art from his uncle, Beach airbrush artist Lamar Mitchell. Along with the stock beach scenes, M i t c h e l l displays a wide variety of cartoon characters misbehaving at the beach. M i t c h e l l finds that by working nearly 80 hours per week during the season, he doesn't necessarily have to work in the winter. He often heads for the winter tourist resorts, and he has investments i n Beach real estate and a motel. "I don't think airbrush will die," he says. "After eleven years, it's still going strong. If I'm wrong, I've got other things going." Rumblings about legalizing casino gambling in Florida could give the business a whole new look. Mitchell laughs. "We'd start new designs-roulette wheels with palm trees."
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1 Parmelee Welles Tollcan: The CATS' Meow!
BY KATE SEAGO There is, indeed, more than one way to skin a cat-and one way is to paint it on with an airbrush. The elaborate costume "skins" of the characters in the Broadway musical "CATS'are really made of Miliskin, a Spandex/nylon mix often used for bathing suits. The white unitards are painted with fibre-reactive silkscreen dye, using a variety of methods including airbrush. The "CATS'costumes were created by designer John Napier, who drew them in pencil. Most sketches were colored in with colored pencils or fine line felt markers, but for Rum Tum Tugger (based on singer Mick Jagger) Napier ~ s e dan airbrush. To capture the essence of Napier's original drawings, costume painter Parmelee Welles Tolkan airbrushed the dye, thinned with water, onto the white costume base with a DeVilbiss touchup brush. Each character has two costumes, which are washed after each performance. Together, the costumes last about seven months; they become damaged from the stress of a very active three-hour performance each night, and are subject to perspiration breakdown. Both Tugger costumes are fitted in the same session, where Tolkan marks the stripes, spots and highlights directly on the costume as the actor wears it. The shape of the leopard spots and bib are changed to suit the body type of the specific actor, and highlights are sketched in for the upper arms and thighs, buttocks and crotch. Once the markings are drafted the costumes are disassembled and attached to plywood sheets. The actual spraying of both costumes takes about 2% hours; Tolkan sprays the thinned dye at 15 to 20 Ibs. pressure. "I used to spray it much heavier, but I fmd I have much more control at lower pressure," she comments. Tugger first is sprayed with a black-brown base, and highlights are applied with lighter colors. Tolkan has found that simply spraying a lighter density to get a lighter color doesn't work with these dyes; she mixes a lighter tone and sprays at a consistent density. Tugger is sprayed with two shades of green-gold, a warm gold, brown, buff-brown,grey and black The dye dries in about 20 minutes with the use of fans. The costume is turned over, and the black areas are sprayed from the back to intensify the colors. After painting, the costumes are steamed and washed to set the color, which becomes permanent. "The costume wears out before the color," Tolkan says. Working with the silkscreen dye has some interesting problems, according to Tolkan. She creates test swatches before working on a costume, but says it is still very difficult to judge how dark the finished product will be as she paints. The general rule of thumb, Tolkan says, is that the colors
Original sketch of the Rum Tum Tugger costume Color photos of CATS cast courtesy of Martha Swope Photography, Inc. 46
AIRBRUSH ACTIONIJULY-AUGUST, 1985
become "lighter and brighter, and yellow comes up." Yet, each costume is individual because it is created by hand. Another problem is that, because the fabric is stretched on plywood for painting, it does not have the same surface appearance as it will when it is worn. "When the fabric is relaxed you don't really see the highlights," Tolkan says. "It has to be on a body-and preferably the one you drew it on." Tugger is the only "CATS" costume with extensive airbrushing. Other costumes are created with traditional brush or wax-resist techniques, using the same dye. Tugger's bib is highlighted with a squeeze bottle.
as using the DeVilbiss touchup brush for the stumes as well. Tolkan and her staff of eight
squeeze bottle or traditional brush other than washing her hands after contact. "But when I'm spraying it, I wear a respirator and try to deal with ventilation. It's very hard, because none of the costume shops are set up to deal with spraying." Tolkan has painted costumes for the New York and Los Angeles companies of "CATS". She says it takes about a month to complete the seven sets of costumes she is assigned. Designer Napier recently sent her to Vienna to teach her methods there: because of her work, the spectacular productions of "CATS" are certainly the cats' meow.
(above) Tugger's bib ready to be sprayed
The 'CATS Cast
1 JULY-AUGUST, 1985fAIRBRUSH ACTION 47
BUSINESS. IT'S OUR ONLY BUSINESS.'"
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coming AIRBRUSHING AND THE COMPUTER-Can the computer match the effect of an airbrush? A new hybrid medium? DAVE KIMBLE-His perspective on illustration as a fine art and some insight into his sought-after technique. WAYS THE AIRBRUSH ARTIST CAN MAKE MONEY-Part I. PAPER SURFACES-Robert provides an overview.
THE GRAPHIC ARTISTS GUILDWhat you must know!
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