The airbrush reborn; a new market
A few years back, before I retired, I looked at my many airbrushes I had accumulated as an illustrator and then looked over at my computer with its digital tablet and stylus. I figured my airbrushing on illustrations was over. With Photoshop and Painter programs, the illustration board, gouache paint (a special type of watercolor) and fine sable brushes were for the most part replaced by specialized styluses and digital tablets. I really felt that I had seen the end of hand-created illustrations. The computer was so much faster, easier to correct mistakes and to make major changes on the art work.
I converted from hand illustrations to the digital environment kicking and screaming all the way but this change was inevitable. It’s where everyone was going, especially the printers. When I turned one of my last hand-created brochures over to the printers, the owner told me later that he almost had a fight in his production department over it. I said you mean no one wanted to do it? He said no, quite the opposite, they fought over who would do the job because it was a last chance for them to use their craft as journeymen, cameramen and strippers (the ones who laid out the films for the final plates to be made). Soon after this, the darkrooms and layout tables were disassembled, a sad day for these skilled artisans of the printing profession.
About a month ago, I went through my garage and some of my old storage cabinets and started rounding up my airbrush equipment again. There were some desired effects I just couldn’t seem to get with just a brush and paint. I bought a few new books on new paints and procedures for airbrushing art on various surfaces, murals, cars and even fine art painting. I started looking at my airbrush as a fine arts tool instead of only a commercial art tool. Over the last few years, new paints and procedures have been discovered and with these advancements the airbrush may have a new life cycle.
It’s very early to tell what may happen, maybe nothing, maybe everything. I have always been slow to make major changes, but if you already have the equipment and the basic knowledge, why not give it a try.
Here I am acting as if I’m young just getting started but that’s not the case. I will be 70 next year, hardly a good starting point. Well, if Colonel Sanders did it, maybe it’s not really too late, but let’s say it’s not that early either.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. You can send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (740) 852-4906.