After graduating from Graphic Communications, at Canadore College in North Bay Ontario Canada, my first job was that of caricature and portrait artist in an amusement park (Canada’s Wonderland way back in 1995). From the caricature booth I would watch the airbrush artists at work. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I was determined that the next year I would be working alongside those amazing artists. I bought my first airbrush from that airbrush stand as a way of letting them know that I wanted in. Over the next several months I spent hours, every day, practicing the fundamentals; dots, lines, dagger strokes, flare strokes, blends, etc… I practiced until the dots started bouncing off the page! Next year marks my 20th anniversary as an airbrush artist.
I can’t honestly say that I have been airbrushing steady over the past 20 years, but I can say that it is always something that I go back to when I feel stressed or down. Producing a great piece of art is very empowering. It really brings up my confidence.
Even though I started out, as many do, airbrushing t-shirts, textiles, and the occasional mural, I didn’t want to stop there, so I setup my own little airbrush business: Rare Air Works. It definitely started out as a labor of love. Getting the first few jobs was almost as challenging as it was learning to airbrush in the first place. People often wanted me to do something for free, to “help build my portfolio”, almost like an opportunity to “practice” as if they were doing me a favor. Persistence and patience were my allies, and eventually I started getting paid jobs. Not enough for a full time gig, but enough to make it worth the effort.
My paints of choice are the water based automotive grade “Auto-Air” colors and “Wicked” airbrush paints by Createx. These high quality water based paints are perfect for everything I paint and last a lifetime. My “go to” airbrushes include the Iwata: CM-C+, the H&S Infinity CR Plus 2in1, the Badger Sotar 20/20F, the Badger Krome, the Mojo: II (Richpen 213c), the Peak C-3, and my original purchase, the Paasche VL. Yes, I use them all. If I was limited to just one I would have to go with the CM C+, I can’t get over how flexible this tool is. Finest of lines and amazing atomization.
Let’s face it, I’m still a small fish in an ocean of custom airbrush artists, and I’m ok with that. It means I get to work one on one with my clients. I do my best to work within every client’s budget, offering suggestions to make sure they get the best finished product possible. As a team we are able to bring some awesome art and design to life.
Over the last few years, I’ve begun to take the leap into goalie masks, guitars, helmets, and motorcycles. The learning curve was steep at first but, now that things are starting to come together, I see good things on the horizon. My little custom paint business is starting to threaten to become that full time gig. Rare Air Works is re-born!
This is an excerpt from Issue 56, which you can buy here or below.