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ER EDI'f1ON 1985





  • 4 4

' Dickran





  • I iishir t








New Name in Excellence




    • I 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



can be purchased at the following leading art material stores:


Binders Art Center



The Flax Co.



The Fine Art Store

San Diego

Flax, lnc.

Los Angeles

Flax's Artists Materials

San Francisco


PAS Graphics, Inc.


Sterling Art


University Art Center

Palo Alto

San Francisco

San Jose

Santa Clara

World Supply, Inc.



Art Hardware


Colorado Springs

Fort Collins

H.R. Meininger Co.



Kanig Art Emporium









Old Saybrook





West Hartford

Kanig Artist Supplies, Inc.


Ki Koenig Clearance Center



Visual Systems Co., Inc.





Art Mart

West Palm Beach

Sam Flax, ~nc.


The Frame Up Gallery

North Miami Beach


Koenig Art Emporium

Fort Myers

North Miami



Neena Art 6 Frame

West Hollywood

Odando Frame 6 Art


Rex Artist Supplies





West Palm Beach


Binders Art Center


Crest Art, Inc.


Sam flax, Inc.



Hawaiian Graphics Corp.



The Flax Co.


The Graphic Store


Pyramld Artists' Materials




Bates, Inc.



Art World

Council Bluffs

Lind Art World

Iowa City


Art World

Overland Park

Keith Coldsnow, Ltd.

Overland Park

Color King, Inc.



Visual Systems Co., Inc.




Ardon Co.,



Koenig Art Emporium







DM1 Industries, Inc.

Ann Arbor


Madison Heights

Royal Oak


Artsign Materials Co.






St. Paul


Art World

Kansas City

Bader's Art Supply


St. Louis

Keith Coldsnow, Ltd.

Kansas City


Art World



Lincoln Blueprint Company




Kanig Art Emporium



Dupont Graphic Arts, Inc.



Koenig Art Emporium


Short Hills




ArtisanlSanta Fe, Inc.

Santa Fe


Adene's Artist Materials


Sam Flax, Inc.

New York City

Grand Central Artists Materials

New York City

Hyatt's Art 6 Craft Store


Hyatt's Graphic Supply Co., Inc.




Kanig Art Emporium

Mt. Kisco


White Plains


Lee's Art Shop, Inc.

New York City

New York Central Art Supply, Inc.

New York City

Orange ~mntPaint supply, lnc.





Parsons Art Supply

New York City

Syracuse Blue Print Co., Inc.



Binden Art Center



Dunahey's Art Media



Long's Art Supply


Ken McCallister, Inc.


The Morse Graphic Art Supply Co.


Parma Heights


Prince Reproductions, Inc.



Kanig Art Empodum

King of Prussia

North Wales



Art Center Supply Store, Inc.


GrlfRn Supply Co.



Artsign Materlals Co.


The Rush Company



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


Spokane Art Supply, Inc.



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.



National 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


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 It Together For You"

Contributing Editors

Ferris Butler

Jeffrey Ressner



Each Kit containes 6 Colors 2 oz.

Tech Sheet


COLOR FLEX (Plastic)


West Coast Correspondent

Kate Seago





P.O. Box 216 Carrollton. Georgia 301 17

(404) 834-1013

Production Consultant

Bill Rose


phone: 1-800-334-2249To Ship U.P.S. C.O.D. for $19.00


Production Managers

Deborah Corbin

Phyllis Ross



Consultant/Contributing Editors

Robert Anderson Richard M. Nusser


Pricing & Ethical Guidelines-5th Edition

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 easy- to-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 de- sign, 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, soft- bound, $16.95

Advertising Director

Cliff Ross

Editorial offices: 31 7 Cross

Street, Lakewood, Nj

08701. Return postage must accompany all manu-


drawings and photographs submitted if they

are to be returned and no responsibility can be as- sumed for unsolicited materials. All rights in letters sent to Airbrush Action will be treated as uncondi-

tionally assigned for publication and copyright pur- poses and as subject to Airbrush Action's unre- stricted 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 pub- lisher. Subscription inquiries: Send all remittances, requests and changes of address to Airbrush Action, P.O. Box 3000, Dept. MM, Denville, Nj 07834. In Canada mail to Smith Borthwick Ltd., 345 Beech


  • I SEND TO: AIRBRUSH ACTION, P.O. Box 73, Lakewood, NJ 08701

  • I Please send me copy(ies) o f the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook Pricing & Ethical Guidelines at $16.95 each.


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C] Send C.O.D. cash

(NJ reisdents add 6% sales tax) I

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About the Cover

1 Name







To order by phone 1-800-232-7874

Full refund if not completely satisfied


This month's cover, done by our fea- tured artist DICKRAN PALULIAN in 1979 for Penthouse, greatly en- hances the launch of our new AIR- BRUSH 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.


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.


Hot Air-Publisher's Message


Q and A




New Products

Wear the Air


  • -%I- .r.c


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

  • 521 Metallic Gold



Fabric Paint

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



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 to the bare essentials.

Order extra for the beach.

Perhaps you need a new brush. Or to 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





(Olympos parts available)



The ultra-fine spray nozzle (.18mm) reduces air stream blow back, allowing

the artist to 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.

ers who work with a range of

mediums, the VL3L is versatile and easy to 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

(Code F) List Price $195.00



Our Prlce $121.95

There's no finer

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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


Used to make stencils for airbrush patterns. Preferred over frisket because

the edges may vary from soft to razor sharp with user discretion. Cuts like

action, push button control;'2mm tip size; % oz.

(Code G) List Price $275.00



Our Price $171.95

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"


The trigger control adds extra smoothness. Fine and thick spray patterns

by the adjustable needle shaft. The siphon-feed

are easily controlled

removable 1 oz. cup is recommended for dyes, inks, watercolor, retouch

AQUA FLOW Airbrush 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


(Code C) Primary Set

5 colorslList Price $13.50 ...........

(Code D) Secondary Set

10 colorslList Price $27.00 ..........

Our Price 511.47 Our Prlce 522.95

colors, lacquer and acrylics.

(Code H) List Price $150.00 .............................

COM-ART Transparent and Opaque Airbrush 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-useI oz. 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 ....


Prlce $13.95


The best source for silent, portable air, precise

airflow control and reliable performance. With

a four airbrush capacity, the AIR FORCE 1I Is

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.


w HP @ 3500 RPM,115vr6o~z thermal protected,

154 watts/1.99 AMPS, PSI starts @ 88lstops at 120,s liter tank,


micro mini filter, 48 ~bs.

(Code E) List Price $550.00


Prlce $399.95


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.

FRISKFILM Masking Film


(Code I)

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







1-800-241 -3242

iW?UbH P.O. BOX 53097

Atlanta, GA 30355








Please send me

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only w~thS50W or more order Name Address





1 Utdl


Amount 5% Sales Tax (GA Res) TOTAL


Please make checb payable to Atlanta Alrbrusk, Po Box 53097, Atlanta, ciA 30355













Why does my airbrush spit? I've heard this question literally a thou- sand times over the past few years. Since the airbrush reached the art- ist's hands, frustration caused by un- wanted 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 combi- nation 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 regu- lators, bent needles, split nozzles, or improperly thinned paint can be vil- lains. But the number one problem that I have seen is simply a dirty air- brush. Of course, some artists be- lieve 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 occasion- ally, hoping to beat it into submis- sion. 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

brush is to find the proper cleaner. Different paints require different cleaners. When I started airbrush- ing, most artists did not even know what paint to spray through an air- brush, let alone what cleaner to use. But thanks to our trusty airbrush manufacturers' coming to our res- cue, we may now choose from a va- riety 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 permanent- press shirts. But after leaving them in the dryer for a day or two, the permanent disappeared from the press. The same goes for water-sol- uble paints. If the paint stays in the brush too long, the paint just chuc- kles 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 pro- duced 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 con- centrate, 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 gar- bage (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 spray- ing fills the air with cleaner, creating an unpleasant working environ- ment.

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 re- maining cleaner might react chemi- cally with the new paint, causing a change of color. Second, the re-




- 'GURE 7

maining cleaner, when sprayed onto the artwork, could bleach out what has been previously sprayed. FIVE: Pour out excess water (Figure


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 note- worthy, for color switch cleaning, gravity-fed airbrushes are easier to clean than siphon-fed brushes. In fact, gravity-fed brushes clog less than si- phon-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 ma- chined 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 com- plete cleaning are as follows:




ONE: Tear down the airbrush, place the parts in either a metal or porce- lain pan and soak them for ten to twenty minutes (Figure 1 1).

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 prop- erly. Refer to the owner's manual for the correct procedure. I suggest tear- ing 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.









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 prin- ciple that color is light. It is light that car- ries color, not paint or pigment. The vis- ible 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 as- sign 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 attri- butes 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

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 rel- ative 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 ex- ample, the color known as cadmium yel- low light is a very bright (Chroma) and very light (Value), yellow (hue). Raw Um- ber 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 de- scribe 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, yel- low 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 sec- ondary color (green) and mixtures of pri- mary and secondary colors result in inter- mediate colors. A primary blue added to a secondary green for example will pro- duce a blue-green. Colors that are near each other on the wheel are called anal-

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 comple- mentary 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 is 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 po- sition on the outer rim, that hue becomes more intense. A bright fire engine red, for

Figure 2

example, will be located towards the out- side rim of the circle whereas a duller brick red may be located Y4 of the way in to- wards 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 re- duced in intensity as required. This is done by mixing in small quantities of the com- plementary 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 mix- ture will move through the center and be- gin to take on characteristics of the com- plement. The color dimension of value can not be indicated on a flat color wheel. For Figure :


this, the color model must be made

3-dimensional or spherical, (see Fig. 2). This color sphere will have a pole running through the center, repre- senting 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 man- ner as on the flat wheel. The differ- ence now is that they are repre- sented at each value level. Intense color occurs in nature at value levels that are specific to that hue. Bright yellows, for example are

Pasadena Convention Center 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 be a perfect sphere. Its outer shape will vary with the maximum inten- sity available at that specific hue and value level. The discussion thus far concerns more than just color theory. It is the theory that points out the relation- ships of color and demonstrates its structure. Color structure is an or- derly sequence that shows how one color relates to another. By being aware of color structure, the artist can use relationships that seem to be more harmonious, balanced and pleasing to most people. There are many ways to use color structure, but as color choice is somewhat per- sonal, some of them may be more to your taste than others. One such use of color structure is to be aware of its psychological im- pact. The color wheel is divided into two parts with a line that runs through green and purple. All of the reds, oranges and yellows are in the warm half. These colors are associated with the sun, heat and excitement and tend to advance when used in a 2-dimen- sional space. The other half of the color wheel contains the cool blues and greens. They are associated with ice, cold and serenity and tend to recede in the 2-dimensional plane. Another way to use color structure is through color relativitv. Color does





LEARN SHOPS intensified educational workshops are designed to be a learn- ing experience. Structured by a staff of professional artists and teachers, courses are presented in a consistent and concise hands-on format that thoroughly explains and demonstrates the subjects being addressed. LEARN SHOPS stress the how, when, and where of the use of art media, tools, and techniques in a logical and com- prehensible manneL LEARN SHOPS are all-inclusive; one tuition covers materials, equipment, exercise mate- rial and instruction.

Airbrush I-Basic Airbrush Technique Instructor: Peter West

Airbrush Il-Intermediate Airbrush Technique Instructor: Robert Anderson

Introduction to Photographic Retouching With Emphasis on Airbrush Instructor: At Grove

Basic Technical Illustration With Emphasis on Airbrush Instructor: Al Grove

Concept, Composition, and Color Instructor: Robert Anderson


Drawing for the 80's
I Instructor: Robert Anderson

Advanced limited

not exi; in and of itself.'lt is the


for further information contact,


SHOW relative medium in art, as it is de-

P.O. Box 876, Temecula CA 92390

(714) 676-5566

pendent on its environment. of a certain hue, value and

A color


will change in appearance if its

background or surrounding colors are changed. This is significant in air- brush or spray technique since color combinations are made optically in- stead of physically when sprayed. Even though the color is mixed be- fore 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





vision ~icturetube 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 pro-

duce some unexpected and surpris- ing results. It was a similar approach that in- terested the French painter Georges Seurat (1859-91). His painting sys- tem was variously known as Neo- Impressionism, Divisionism and Pointalism. Seurat applied tiny strokes of brilliant colors to the canvas ex- pecting them to merge in the view- er'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 prodked by an air- brush however, are smal l enough so that this is not a ~roblem.Dots Dro- duced by a spra); gun can be m'uch larger and interfere with visual mix- ing 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. Experi-

ence, 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 fur- ther 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

Haven, CT, 1963.



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,


return on investment, a true com- petitive edge and virtually unlimited custom possibilities. That spells smart

of Florida has created an arena of stiff competition, forcing prices down. (Not to worry: The competitive sit- uation in Florida is an isolated case. On a national, collective scale, air-

quality and type of equipment you buy. An airbrush, air compressor, easels, textile paints, shirt boards,

stenciling equipment,

opaque pro-

jector (optional), and miscellaneous

business. brushers comprise a small lot.) accessories encompass the scope of

Customization of any kind is al- However, it is safe to suggest a requisite accoutrements.

most always a high ticket item. This

$15 average for standard displayed But the main attraction and real

is especially

true with T-shirt






complexity and the time required to do the design, pricing can range from


and about $20-30 for





longer than 45

minutes to produce (cars, pets, corn- pany identification, etc.). Art work

$10 to $75 or more per shirt. requiring more time should be priced

punch line is that T-shirt airbrushing holds the potential of returning your investment in one day. A conces- sionnaire I know averages about $700 a day, with a personal best of $2,000.

Before setting prices, however, higher. That's impressive and easier to ac-

make sure your market will

bear the

burden. Since pricing is an arbitrary

consideration, standard

floor and

ceiling limits can only be estab- lished after a brief period of trial and

Fortunately, most sales are gen- erated from the designs you and your artist are familiar with (rainbows, tropical settings, two names in a heart, etc.). These designs should not

complish than one might expect. The variables contributing to this success

are an attractive display,

fast pro-

duction capability, high foot-traf- ficked location and always keeping

error. take longer than 15 minutes to brush. the "boards" busy.

Listing my personal guidelines

might be misleading because each

region of

Airbrushing also gives the store owner a sharp competitive edge. As a crowd drawer and pleaser-partic- ularly in malls and at fairs-air- brushing can't be beat as a means to upstage business rivals. Airbrushing provides a fascinating show of bril- liant colors almost magically taking

LOW Entrance Cost

the country warrants dif- The barrier to entering airbrush-

ferent price schedules. For example, ing, in terms of investment, is rela-

a popular rainbow design on a basic T-shirt may sell for $20 in New York

tively low compared with other businesses. Considering you already

City and $14-1 6 in New Jersey. have a storefront, shirt stock and a

That same design probably would command only $8 or less in Florida;

heat press, the addition of airbrush-

ing will cost roughly $250 to $1,500. form as a design.

the saturation of airbrushers in parts Investment is contingent on the What amazes people about air-





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9vX~3v 1~~161117~~18" 19tx20





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 thick- ness, 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 bear- ing 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 pay- ing 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 air- brushing, are color bottles, an air hose, easels, shirt boards and soft vine charcoal. Another option to con- sider is having an opaque projector to facilitate otherwise tedious cus- tom production.

Airbrushes. The two basic types of airbrushes are double and single action. The distinction is that dou- ble-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 air- brushes are generally used for broad spray applications where detail and line variation are not critical. Although double-action air- brushes require more skill and prac- tice to master, the advantages in having the more versatile airbrushes far outweigh the disadvantages.


Compressors. In my re-

search, I have found the ideal air compressor to be compact, light- weight, portable, silent and one that offers a 40-or-more-pound tank out- put.

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 maga- zine for more information.

Color Bottles. For efficient pro- duction, having a different bottle for every color is highly recommended. Color bottles easily attach and re- move for fast color changing. Plastic bottles are preferred over glass be- cause they are lighter and shatter- proof.

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 nylon- braided and unbraided, coiled and uncoiled. Nylon-braided, 10 feet in length and uncoiled are the author's preference.

Shirt Boards. Shirts should be stretched onto boards to provide a smooth surface on which to air- brush. Wood, cardboard, corru- gated, foam core and other rigid me- diums are satisfactory. Double-wall corrugated boards are advisable because they are inexpen- sive, lightweight, durable and easy to work with. (Figure 1 suggests shirt board dimensions.) For the sake of efficiency, cut each board to accom- modate two sizes.

Vine Charcoal. This is the per-

fect medium for sketching onto shirts before airbrushing. Any line mis- takes on fabric can be blown out with the airbrush. Even the most experi- enced airbrushers use vine charcoal regularly.

Spray BOX. 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 in- novative 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.



omplete "Starter" Kit



best whlte palnt available,

ng soon from the alrbrush

write to:

P 0. Box 9301

we shlp anywhere C 0 D

Opaque Projector. The hot

ticket in airbrushing is in reproduc- ing a customer's car, pet, portrait, logo, etc., onto a shirt. An opaque projector enables you to sketch cus- tom 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 air- brushed. This technique is equally suited for the non-artist and the art- ist, who is anxious to cut valuable working and production time in half.

Materials Checklist



Air Compressor


Textile paint

$52.45-1 10 $1 00-650

$4-1 8 per bottle (depending on size)

Color bottles ..








Air hose













$7.55-1 8.50





















Shirt boards ..










$ .75-10





Spray container .. Stenciling set-up .. Opaque projector








(box of 25) $3-1 0 $1 4-45 $1 65-1,500


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 $1 00,000 "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 de- murring 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 cap- italist. Micky tells people he's an art- ist and he is. In that context, I agree that I started airbrushing here and he perfected it. He's a much better art-

ist than I am,

but I'm a much better

capitalist." Rush also moves around more than Harris, who grew tired of the air- brusher's nomadic life and settled with wife and child in Okaloosa County, a Northwest Florida terri- tory of sharp contrasts, with the cos- mopolites 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 un- developed, nothing but gently un- dulating dunes and golden seaoats between the highway and the em- erald-azure sea that draws ultra- violet ray worshippers by the thou- sands 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 Wal- ton Beach. Like any strip in any town, this one glitters, a garish, gaudy, ir- resistible come-on come summer- time when shopkeepers catering to

"Buyers don't want just any T or related souvenir, they demand the distinctive touch of an airbrusher"


the monied teens and twenties, as

opposed to the older conservative

Canadians and Miami Beach refu-

gees, 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 old Jimmy's Souve-


. . .

Entrepreneurs tied to pre-

thirty tourism either play one-ups-

man-ship in the name game or stick

with the standard as if in disdain of

clever upstarts.

Names seem of scant conse-

quence 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 art-

ists 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 bou-

tiques 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 Is-

land, a souvenir-packed emporium

that dominates T-block sizewise and

maintains sufficient diverse inven-

tory to stay open year-around, un-

like many smaller places that shut

the doors on autumn's first chill, re-

opening (often under new manage-

ment) when Easter resurrects vaca-

tion season.

Rush's latest domaine is Destin and

The Gazebo, a trendy, toney bou-

tique more Bloomingdale's than typ-

ical 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 Is-

land. The luxury leisure crowd ca-

vorts 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 air-

brushing throughout Okaloosa runs

about $8 to $1 5, with several shops

offering such simple designs as a sin-

gle 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 win-

dows, center stage surrounded by a

backdrop of available designs that at

an earlier time would have been de-

scribed as psychedelic. Day-glo is

passe. Glitter is in. Ditto for the pur-

est of pigments, with colors a more

brilliant shade than Van Gogh en-


Palm trees don't grow in North-

west 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 silhou-

ettes, magenta sun over black

seaoats, sunbronzed muscle boys

pulled by scarlet cigarette boats over

a turquoise sea, golden lasses in cer-

ise striking bikinis under umbrellas

flashier than a Barnum and Bailey

tent. Buyers also go for balloon bou-

quets, 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 in-

cludes a drowsy fat pelican and a

modern Madonna in abstract

impressionism among her reper-


In the main, however, variation on

the popular seaside resort theme

characterizes the airbrushed T-shirt

trade and artists openly steal from



the late 1970s. He's back this season after a four-year hiatus to major in

for the discriminati artist end craftsma

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

computer sc'ience, and his a;


rusty. La's style reflects his European- Oriental influence, but don't con- fuse him or his art with Vietnamese culture. Ordinarily quiet, the soft- spoken Laotian firmly informs the uninitiated that during the Commu- nist invasion of his country, the fam- ily 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 Wal-

ton 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

afford to cover a collection that numbers in the hundreds, if not Rush's thousands. "This is called the most prosti- tuted art in the world," says Rush.