Airbrush resistance: Art School

I was resistant to getting an airbrush because I had an attitude about airbrushes.

That attitude comes from my “foundation year”(fancy term for freshman year) at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the general disregard held for airbrushes there.

Not that some students didn’t have them and use them. This was never more obvious than on Halloween when some lazy art dudes who hadn’t given thought to their costumes (art school Halloween costumes are serious business) would go over to an airbrush-having student (usually “Sham” and his roomie) before the parties and get their torsos and faces sprayed to resemble skeletons: pathetic, half-dressed, slacker skeletons ready to get sloppy drunk. That’s what I think of when I think airbrushes, drunk skeletons who couldn’t be bothered.

It would take a few years before we would all come together against a common Halloween enemy: Don and his damned Edward Scissorhands costume. Sure, it was great….the first year…but the way he’d use it to win Milwaukee bar costume contests every damned year for the next four years wasn’t.

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We were sick of that costume and sick of him.

He was a wanker. He’d eventually become an official Utilikilt vender for the North Pacific and move to Portland to sculpt and weld things and claim he’d always been named Gustav Sculptor.

Airbrushes though…

I had a buddy who worked at a Milwaukee’s Grand Avenue Mall t-shirt kiosk our first year at MIAD. He had flashbacks when I recently mentioned online I was looking at airbrushes.

We didn’t have dorms. We all just lived in downtown Milwaukee. Just responsible freshmen art students in apartments with leases, what could go wrong?  (so much) The following year the school had dorms but by then no one wanted to give up the freedom …except Don, because being a RA to young impressionable incoming freshman was his kinda thing…wanker

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My airbrush working buddy had an apartment with a bunch of other art student dudes who discussed which Young Ones archetype they fit. It was an apartment complex full of similarly filled apartments. The Apartment complex itself was named after Alexander Comstock who would not have approved of the shenanigans within. Airbrush Buddy and Co’s  apartment was a place with nasty but loved couches where you’d find yourself sitting in the evening drinking beer, watching STNG, and not doing your art homework.

One of his roommates also worked in the airbrush-shirt kiosk. I remember them complaining about the pushback they’d get from refusing to do gang symbols and the customers who would demand that they make the already painted bunnies cuter…or that the example t-shirt had seven purple balloons in the bunny’s hand and theirs only had six and was this a rip off or what?!? (Drink)

Sweet Baby Stevus, when looking for a picture of the Comstock I found listings that included pictures of the interior and I swear to god the kitchen fixtures ( and fillings ) haven’t changed since 1994. The only thing missing is there is no keg in this picture.

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So, prior to dolls, airbrushes were a source of contempt and stress in my mind: Drunk slacker skulls and bunnies that were never cute enough.

Then I learned that airbrushes are pretty much the best way to change the color of a doll’s body and head and I started looking at them, casually.

Hey, hey baby.

This year, facing the stress maybe changing jobs, I started looking again at them…

I didn’t get the job I wanted. Again. I got a letter telling me “you’re not our first choice but if anyone drops you’re on our waitlist”…which is why I simultaneously tell people not to panic about Covid-19 while also privately hoping whatever applicants got that job freak out about it and flee the country before the next school year starts

l’d been eyeing airbrushes on Mercari, hoping to buy one as an “I got the job” me-gift . I instead bought one as a “Nope, didn’t get it” gift…and shortly after declared this the YEAR OF DOLLS OR ART.

In fact I got a whole bunch of stuff all from one seller.

Tamiya spray booth, two Tamiya/Procon boy airbrushes, a MR. LINEAR L3compressor, that little moisture regulator, stands, and things to attach things and spray them and rotate them with, original instructions (Japanese) all at once for under 200usd which has turned out to be a great deal.

And then I had to wait to play with them for a week and a half while prepping for studio stuff.

This gave me time to watch airbrush videos…and time to get over the culture shock of watching airbrush videos.

I’m so accustomed to doll videos: lilting female voices (sometimes with Eastern European accents), colorful, time lapse photography and calming background music, well edited and containing helpful voice overs when needed.

Airbrush: Dudes who still used the term NOOBS, heavy metal font, sometimes barebones video editing and a lot of ambient sounds.

They’re just so much more aggressive. I don’t think I’m used to men telling me how to do things as much as I used to be…I bellydance, work in an elementary school where all the head teachers and principals are women, and I do a lot of traditionally female DIY craft.

With the studio show over I’ve had time to play a bit. As some of what I need an airbrush for is matching and changing skin tones, I’ll often be best off mixing acrylic colors and thinning them instead of using fume-laden lacquers.

with acrylics I’ve painted the ears I made for a 17inch Clawdeen Wolf ages ago (to become a taller Starfire) the seam in front will be further hidden under her hair

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I know I’ll have to sit down and do some practicing lines and hand-eye co-ordination at some point…although most of the time I’ll be just turning something a different color. I think.

I also cleaned up a Pullip in progress, this time with Mr. Hobby Acrylic Laquers. I’m making a Pris from Bladerunner and doing her face in chalk pastels resulted in too much pigment fallout, it got muddy, so I removed all my work and hit it with the airbrush last night. Tonight I’m layering it with Mr.Super Clear so I can add details.

And that’s how I’m currently learning to love my airbrush and leave the bunnies and skeletons (and wankers) behind.

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