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Making a career out of airbrushing.

Discussion in 'General Airbrush Discussion' started by microwavable, Jul 8, 2018.


  1. microwavable

    microwavable Double Actioner

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    or starting a new career later in life.

    Some of you may know from a previous post that I had a very bad motorcycle crash back in March 2018, broke almost all of my ribs on my right side ( in multiple places), puncture lung, had to be life flighted to welly and they had to use the paddles at one point to bring me back.

    I am not saying all this for sympathy, I am saying to give you an idea of the long long road ahead of me to try to get back to precrash form. This means a LOT of time spent at home, all day every day since March.

    I have been trying to find a hobby that I would enjoy and be productive at home, and maybe, MAYBE makes a living doing it, I am not looking to get rich, just help pay the bills.

    Do any of you do this for a living and can you offer any advice for me based on the above?

    thank you all!!
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  2. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I dont specifically airbrush for a living. I do composite fabrication, scenic art, murals, stage sets, novelty vehicles for movies, props, tiny amount of animatronic stuff, even a fishtank that was a segway piece on "tanked" ....basically whatever kind of stuff you see in amusement parks. Since moving to NC from florida all that has been in flux (not exactly an entertainment capitol here) so Ive been all over the map with what i apply those skills to to make money.

    This stuff is hugely word of mouth, especially for me, i mean just think about trying to make a concise ad for that.
    Advertising airbrushing will get you a bunch of people who want $20 T-shirts and $10 ballcaps, or people that want to give you $75 for a detailed portrait of their dog that takes 12 hrs and $40 worth of material to complete.

    I would probably knock out the helmet, then talk to the people at a local bike club , tell them what youre trying to do,show em what youve done, offer to give them a free paintjob coupon for a poker run or just see if theyll pull a name out of a hat, or go up to the crowd of kids hanging out with their motorcycles at wal-mart or the gas station or whatever and talk to them, tell em what youre trying to do and see if someone has a helmet or fender they wanna do. Aim for something that has a name or them that is local because it will be obvious it wasnt purchased that way.

    After the first one things will move right along.
    Revisit every now and then and pass out cards.

    I had a couple neighbor kids ask me to paint their bicycles once....wasnt 1 week before their uncles were stopping by to see what id charge to paint their motorcycles.
    I've even thought about doing a paintjob on this old guys scooter who hangs out at the local gas station all the time, i'm certain that it would drum up work.

    Don't feel bad giving a price someone cant afford, it is what it is, custom comes with custom prices.
  3. markjthomson

    markjthomson AKA Quick Draw !! (and still very happy) Staff Member Mod

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    In New Zealand I think you will find it possible but will take a long time to get there. It is possible and I would suggest most who turn their hand to it have been painting and doing it for a long time before they started making money from it.

    There are a few here who make this their living but at best most might turn a little beer money. There are plenty here who have the skill and ability to make money off this game if they wanted too but the trick is getting someone to pay for it. There are a few threads around regarding this. Biggest bit of advice, NEVER undersell yourself, second biggest bit of advice, NEVER undersell yourself! Then practice till your eyes bug out... then practice a little more... :)

    What sort of shape would you look at for this to possible make a living? Portrait/painting sort of work or custom spray work...?

    How mobile are you...? The sort of things you are most likely to make a living from requires lifting and shifting. It may also be worth checking out pin stripping... more practice there a well but looks very cool.
  4. twood

    twood Elite Member! Elite Member! Very Likeable!

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    I started airbrushing as a hobby and do get some work from others once and awhile. It helps pay for my hobby. The biggest problem in my area is getting the work after they find out the cost. Too many want a helmet painted for 50 bucks....lollollol
    Do you have any pics of anything you have done so far?
    Cheers
  5. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Oh, also keep in mind most creative people do it themselves. Your customers will have to be shown what they want. For the same reason a tshirt shop is covered in samples and tatoo shops have flash and books of tattoos. It is a good idea to have a book of ideas, printouts, magazine clippings, whatever.
    It is a rare occasion someone will contact you saying oh I wanna do this white and pearl-orange design with 3d tribal whatever that i made up in my head...... but
    10 minutes flipping through a book and they'll go oh thats cool! can you make that, but blue.
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  6. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel!

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    Lol or my favorite, "Can you make it just like this but completely different??"
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  7. Robbyrockett2

    Robbyrockett2 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    That works too.
    If they have nothing to look at theyll go, umm idk what i want...maybe a skull... but im not sure, i'll get back with you , and that will be the end of it.
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  8. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel!

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    Eh I wouldnt consider those people "customers". Its one thing to run one's mouth, but another thing entirely to expect an artist to perform a miracle.
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  9. microwavable

    microwavable Double Actioner

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    Hi guys. Thank you all so much. I humbled by all the input you all have put in.

    I know I am getting way ahead of myself talking about a career when I am just starting. But my nature is That I am a planner. It drives my wife nuts lol.

    I don't have anything to show yet.

    My wife has all of this equipment sitting around and I thought I have wanted to give this ago for a long time. So here I am.

    Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk
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  10. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel!

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    Lol you're not a Capricorn by chance???
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  11. microwavable

    microwavable Double Actioner

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    Lol pisces

    Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk
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  12. Jurien72

    Jurien72 Have Airbrush - Will Travel!

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    Ahh... my girlfriend is a Capricorn and she literally can cripple herself with planning... I'm a Gemini so I plan as I go. Makes for an interesting relationship :thumbsup:
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  13. microwavable

    microwavable Double Actioner

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    Lol same we are going to a motorbike event in Nov this year and I have planned it all ready. As well as one in Feb 2019. I think she is ready to pop a gasket lmao

    Sent from my SM-G570Y using Tapatalk
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  14. huskystafford

    huskystafford Needle chucking Ninja

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    I will leave my 2 cents here, even if I am not airbrushing for a living.

    When people talk about airbrushing there is always custom one piece order mentality. I would assume it can be quite a challenge to get a customer which is prepared to pay the amount of hours which were put in that masterpiece which artist made. After all, people always talked that artists are poor. Everybody likes art, but who wanna pay for it. Maybe that's why best airbrushers are making payed tutorials, stencil sets and bunch of other stuff.

    Me for example, I am noob at this airbrushing thingy. But the way I see it is it's just one of a tools to get you to close the deal. Let me explain what I mean by that. I am airbrushing t-shirts. If I would like to do that as my job I would need to friking airbrush those t-shirts each day, the whole day and seeling them cheap. That would be pain in the arse. But on other hand I get a tool which can help me with getting customers for bigger orders.

    Lets say my goal would be to get customers which are ordering 100 t-shirts minimum - theoretically. I could do samples by airbrushing them, but the whole production I would outsource it to some screen printer so I don't need to work and I would just collect the money without putting the amount of time which is needed to make all of those t-shirts. So that would be lets say 100x5 dollars per t-shirt = 500 dollars without any work. Theoretically... So my main goal would become to get lets say few customers which are ordering 100 pieces each on a regular basis.

    But here is the trick. Now we started to talk about marketing. The better you are the more money you could probably make. But, then you can just ask your self what would be description of your job. Marketing guy or airbrushing guy?

    What I wonted to say with my stupid post is, you can approach to this ''problem-airrbrushing for living'' probably from few different angles. And like I see it, usually people think about it on a custom one piece job.


    One more little thingy. I remember one picture from a guy on this forum, he posted spiderman breaking true the wall which he painted for him self I think. Not sure. Very nice job. I like those comic thingies and I loved that photo of his work in a second. I showed that picture to my cousin which in a second sad to me he wanna have the same picture in his kids room when I learn enough to airbrush stuff like that.

    That spiderman would sell like hot pancakes(Let's not talk about copywriting now.It is just an example). 200 dollars per piece(not sure, don't know prices in states lol). Bunch of kids would wanna have that. But at the end of the day, that would become production. No more custom one piece work. One, repetitive job and that's it.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  15. MeeshellMP

    MeeshellMP Goddess Queen of carts Mod

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    I own my own airbrushing company. And I had to compensate between airbrushing jobs with, vinyl decals, tshirts, and glass etching. That being said, it can be chaotic at times, and I'd rather be airbrushing lolol.
    This is an "xtra income" business because I'd dont have the proper building at the moment. I've had great $$ years, and so so years.
    It takes time to spread the word, and get a line up of people wanting stuff done. Facebook is a GREAT advertising method, also flyers, car/bike shows. Having lots of different items to display helps big time!
    Now, I have orders coming from all over the USA. Not only airbrushing, but also decal stencils, I make ALOT of vinyl stencils for other airbrush artists. Because I'm from Michigan, I have tons of orders from Michigan still. Now that I painted on that helicopter, I'm getting messages from avation people now.
    Word of mouth works wonders!!
    And dont sell yourself short...EVERYONE has a friend that wants it for cheap or free that will spread the word for you. Dont fall for it lolol!
    Hope some of this helps ya out a bit!!
  16. basepaint

    basepaint Air-Valve Autobot! Very Likeable!

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    I make and paint fishing lures for Muskie fishing,I do a lot of repainting of old lures as most people already have a lure that they know catches fish in that color. All the lures I paint around here catch muskie(I have pictures and videos to prove it:D) As for making money?enough to pay for gas to go fishing,and keep me in fishing lures all winter s money not so much!:(
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  17. microwavable

    microwavable Double Actioner

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    Thats pretty much what I am looking to do, My wife kind of runs a paint shop, is the head painter so we do have some income coming in, I would like to be able to take some of the pressure off her so we could still have money for Beer, motorcycle stuff and other "luxuries" :D
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  18. basepaint

    basepaint Air-Valve Autobot! Very Likeable!

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    Once you learn what you need and how to do it paint up a few panels to hang in your wife's shop,also bring some stuff to local car and bike shows, Pick up a few old motorcycle fenders,tanks and airbox covers and paint them up so people can see your work it all helps but will take time to do too!

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