Airbrush Artist

By TACP Staff on July 07, 2021

An airbrush is a tool used by artists in the creation of painted effects on a variety of materials. Airbrush artists are those who have developed specialized skills and proficiency with regards to the airbrushing tool, materials, and process. With the advent of computer design, various art software programs, such as Photoshop, employ a simulated version of traditional manual application methods.

What Is Airbrushing?

Airbrushing is a painting technique that was developed in the late 19th century. It involves the use of a tool that uses forced air to spray paint or another liquid medium onto a surface. Small compressors are often used to provide compressed air. The paint is usually stored in a small reservoir on either the top or bottom of the tool. As the air is forced through a thin tube in the tool, it sucks the paint into the tube and blows it out the end and onto the surface to be painted.

The majority of airbrush artists create their artwork freehand, but stencils can also be used. An airbrush tool can be used to create artwork on nearly any type of surfaces, including traditional canvases and vehicles. It can also be used to create artwork on a person’s skin and fingernails.

What Does an Airbrush Artist Do?

An airbrush artist might use a few different mediums to create airbrushed art. For instance, some artists may use dye or ink, but paint is by far the most common. Depending on the thickness and type of paint, an airbrush artist may need to thin it out with either water or a chemical thinner.

In order to create artwork, and airbrush artist will manipulate the special tool several different ways in order to create different effects. Holding the tool at different angles or holding it at varying distances from the canvas, for example, will create different effects. There are also a number of different tips and attachments for airbrushing tools that can be used to create different effects.

The majority of airbrush artists will often specialize in a particular type of airbrushing. Some will create traditional works of art on canvases, for instance, but others may only airbrush vehicles or parts of vehicles, like motorcycle tanks or vanity license plates. Airbrushing can also be used on garments and accessories, like t-shirts and handbags.

Airbrushing is also becoming increasingly popular in the cosmetology industry as well. Unique and whimsical art can be created on fingernails and toenails with special airbrushing tools, and temporary tattoos can also be created by airbrushing a design on the skin with special dyes. Airbrushing can also be used to apply makeup as well, and makeup artists often use this application technique to apply stage and screen makeup.

Artists that use airbrushing equipment should also follow certain safety procedures as well. The tiny droplets that spray out of an airbrushing tool can easily get into the eyes, nose, and lungs, which can be very irritating and even downright dangerous. In order to prevent this from happening, most airbrush artists wear eye protection, along with respiratory masks.

Airbrush Artist Education & Training Requirements

Creativity and originality are essential skills for anyone interested in an airbrushing career. Artistic abilities, including drawing and painting skills are also usually necessary. A steady hand is also usually a prerequisite for an airbrushing career.

The education requirements for an airbrushing career will usually vary, however, depending on what area an artist plans to specialize in. Technical and art schools will usually offer degree programs in areas like fine art or painting, and artists are often given the chance to specialize in airbrushing, or at least take some airbrushing courses.

Artists interested in airbrushing vehicles, on the other hand, should consider taking courses in auto body technology or auto body painting. Cosmetology schools will also usually offer courses in airbrushing fingernails or makeup.

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Airbrush Artist Salary & Job Outlook


Salaries for airbrush artists will also usually vary, depending on the artists’ expertise. Artists that create traditional art with airbrushing tools are considered to be fine artists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these types of artists made an average of $53,080 in 2010, but the amount an artist actually makes will depend on his talent and demand for his art. Automotive airbrushing careers typically fall under the category of transportation equipment painting, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals made average salaries of around $42,160 in 2010. Talented airbrush artists, on the other hand, will often be able to make much more. Manicurists made roughly $22,060, on average in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since airbrushing requires specialized knowledge and expertise, however, these types of artists may be able to command slightly higher salaries.

Job Outlook

The employment opportunities for an airbrush artist vary, depending on an artist’s specialty. Airbrush artists that create traditional art, for instance, are often considered to be freelancers. They may create pieces of airbrushed artwork for sale, or for display in a museum or gallery show. Some freelance airbrush artists might also open their own business, where they create custom airbrushed designs on a variety of different objects, including t-shirts and license plates. Automobile body shops might also consider hiring airbrush artists that specialize in airbrushing vehicles. Salons, on the other hand, are often on the lookout for talented nail technicians and makeup artists that are skilled airbrush artists as well.

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