Archive for -airbrushing


Posted in AIRBRUSH CLASSES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by airbrush dvds



The opague projector is one of the main things taken into consideration when pricing your artwork and is also one of the biggest secrets in the field. The opague projector is where the money is actually made via it is a way to project and transfer imagery, thus speeding up the ridiculous amount of time you will spend ( without it ) eating up all of your profits…more on that later. So my syntax or level of reasoning is basically this : If you are known around the world, such as the likes of Mike Lavalle ( Pioneer of the True Fire technique) , then you retain the birthright to charge perhaps $3,000-$10,000 and up for a paint job on a car, motorcycle, truck, boat or whatever.

Knowing how much to charge for airbrush custom work has been one of the great enigmas in the field for many years now as there are so many grey areas that emerge as to why people struggle. I will try and be as concise as possible when breaking down the independent variables to discern proper accord when approaching such an arduous task. The first and foremost rule that one should take in consideration is that you are doing CUSTOM WORK for people. Now lets put some tin foil on our antennas and put that into perspective! CUSTOM WORK means that it is ONE OF A KIND. ONE OF A KIND means that it has IMMENSE AESTHETIC VALUE ( this presupposes you have good craftsmanship, creativity and mass appeal). I have always taught my students that once you have bought a compressor, taken a class, bought an airbrush, a projector, paints, put at least 6 months to a year into good hard practice and started a body of work, then you have the birthright to charge at least $25-$35 per hour for anything you touch. I’ve taught Airbrush a highschool vocational program for three years and need to point out that airbrush is a “Just add water” type of skill, as is cosmetology, welding, auto-collision, etc.etc. Those vocations yield around $20-$40 respectively, so that is where I am deriving my wage compass.

I used to paint a custom boats and the owner would make $30,000 per custom speedboat and have a 2 week turnover per boat, but again Dean is a pioneer in the field, known in many magazines, thus the industry standard in custom boat painting and graphics. I put Loucks and Lavalle in a different category because most people will try and compare their success ( or lack of it ), to icons like these in very early stages of the game. Anyone who has that much PR in the field has definately paid their dues, and it’s not an accident that collectively they are in their mid 30’s or 40’s…it takes time. There are many other variables I have not mentioned, so for the rest of you who are on the rise I would stick to this theory I have created for approaching custom paint ( keep in mind this does not include plotting vinyl graphics at all! ). Here’s my formula:

Lets say someone wants Elvis Presley’s face on their carhood… here’s where it gets sneaky, but you have to be street smart! Again the main thing is the PROJECTOR, so here’s the syntax:

1.) Charge $35 per hour for anything you touch.

2.) Add the amount of hours it would’ve taken you without the projector. This is crucial.

3.) Add the amount for supplys ( If automotive, then include clearcoat in this step).

4.) Add one hour for contingent expenses. ( This always need something odd like blue line tape, special markers, templates etc ).

So the breakdown would be this:

Elvis would take 30 hours to do so $35 per hour x’s 30 hours =( $1050.00 ) + your going to add* 4 hours for the PROJECTOR THE CUSTOMER DID NOT KNOW ABOUT ( Remember this is how long it would’ve taken you to sketch it without the projector / very important! ) 4 hours + $35 per hour =$140.00. So $1050.00+ $140.00 = $1190.00 + Supplys ( Let’s say $100 in supplys ) = $1290.00 + miscellaneous contingent expense ( One more hour of labor to equal contingency/ $35) = Total price of $1325.00.

This is a very reasonable return for anyone in the inception of learning this skill and depending on the INTENSITY OF THE DESIGN ( Which is the main question you have for all clients ), this is a very decent formula to start with, and of course it gets higher and higher as your reputation builds. Keep in mind the main focus is on the opague projector, hence this is where the real money is made. I have been doing this 19 years and have almost NEVER met anyone who is considered a “professional” not use a projector to meet deadlines thus flip and turn artwork at a good pace. In short, your profit is in that projector. Never let anyone tell you that you are cheating by using a projector because Michealangelo used one as did the famous artist Carravagio. More blogging later… good luck!


Posted in AIRBRUSH CLASSES, airbrush-dvds, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2009 by airbrush dvds

Photobucket a14Alot of people want to get into airbrushing but seem to get somewhat set back when they find out that airbrushing is not an accredited vocational skill amungst almost all of the national academic institutions. In Australia airbrush is making strides with a program called the Venturi program, which is a pioneered system reaching out through many venues and has integrated itself through a state sponsored backing, thus helping it gain leverage for the skill as it continues to evolve. This blog is to help the incoming novice understand how to approach the steps in entering this skill. First of all, if your going to do custom airbrush in the automotive graphics field, you will need to start a 6 month hybernation period inside of a body shop, via it be a “backyard boogie” or an established functional production shop. This is utterly important hence the basic knowledge of basecoats, clearcoats, and all of the fancy paints will give you the confidence and accelerate the comfort level when it comes to that intimidating moment when you get your first carhood order or tailgate. Next allow yourself another 6 months of unsolicited, unincumbered, escapism and build a body of work that is uncompromisable. An example of this is : if your going to do welding helmets do 15 of them well and execute them with precision ( Do not compromise the integrity because your work is your sales force simultaneously). 98% of the 3,000 students I have taught know what the cheap, fuzzy, rushed looking airbrush stuff looks like, and know inherently that it continues to set airbrushing back 20 years everytime someone produces low quality work within the field. The standard for airbrush is being raised and there is a global trail of etiquette that is now being followed for incoming novices and artisans alike. It is very difficult for someone to build a body of work when they perhaps do not know specifically what they are good at. An osmosis will sometimes occur immediately and sometimes it will not but the main point is that if you can corner what your good at in the inception of learning, then time, chance and money will be on your side. It is of utter importance to not limit yourself to any particular surfaces, for example, if you learn woodgrain, you could be a faux painter and apply it to home decor. If you learn True Fire, you could put it on vintage refridgerators and not just vehicles. If you learn animation, you could put it on tire covers which are floating around the city (which thousands of people will see at stoplights every year ). The point is that if this skill is in your blood then you will eventually make money, and the people who succeed in this field are not just the innately talented artists, this is actually quite the opposite. Alot of talented artists are co-existing because their introverted personalitys keep them in submission for 10-20 years, then they finally get fed up and build a body of work. I always teach my students the importance of planting “seeds” when you start hitting the trail to make money. Dance clubs are one of the best places to start because dance clubs will usually offer the ability to do t-shirts or custom mural work at your own leisure. Whichever you choose, the way you approach this environment (via a concept of bartering space for work or perhaps an outright 25% comission on everything you sell via garments, body art or whatever ) the bottom line is that you need foot traffic to sell anything, and when you have 800 or more people who are intoxicated with music thumping in the background you have major leverage in the “point of sale” department. Back to “planting seeds”… If you are inside of a dance club doing murals and selling random imagery, or just hussling body art and t-shirts, you should never be dependent on just that one environment. Dance club revenue is usually more prosperous on the weekends but if the beginning of the week is dry, start hitting the furniture stores and airbush angels on coffee tables or dressers, or drop a couple of welding helmets off in the paint stores or body shops or drop a few t-shirts off at the record stores etc etc. This is just a small part of the information I have on how to get started in the field. -David Morton