Great Student Feedback

For me, one of the greatest rewards in producing the Airbrush Getaway is knowing that we impact people in a positive way.  I understand that attendees pay good money (especially in these hard times) to attend the program, so it’s very important, critically so, that it works for everyone.  Feedback, good and critical, is always solicited and welcome because nothing is perfect and I’ll always view the Getaway as a work in progress that requires constant tweaking, improvement, and growth.  And, unlike some forums, I won’t censor your views and opinions.  At the recent Las Vegas Airbrush Getaway, the overall response was excellent, and I really appreciated the following e-mail from Chad Buhler.  It always means alot to me when someone takes the time to write, especially when I know it’s from the heart.

Hello Cliff,

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the Vegas Getaway. This was my first Getaway, and I was in the Intro to Pinstriping and Pinstriping & Lettering Mastery classes. Every instructor there was very open and accessible, and willing to talk to me, even if I wasn’t in the class they were teaching. The staff was great, and made me feel very welcome and made me feel right at home.

Having Brian Lynch there to show all classes how to use spray guns, and give us hands-on demonstrations was great. I was especially grateful to him for helping me with my ‘special’ project of painting and flaking my half mannequin in preparation for pinstriping. I learned a lot working with him and was thrilled to get a chance to work one on one with him.

I would also like to let you know that Jeff Styles and Jen Hallet were awesome instructors. They made the class very informative, but still were able to maintain a relaxed and easy environment to learn and ask questions. They were always available, and did all they could to help me advance my abilities and give me as much knowledge as I could handle about the business. I am so happy with my experience and what I was able to learn from this class that I cannot even express to you in words, even though I am trying now. Jeff Styles has even responded to me personally on some questions I had after the course, which was amazing to me.

So again, thank you for putting on such a tremendous experience. I know I am not the only one who enjoyed the week!

Thanks again!

Chad Buhler

Thanks, Chad, for allowing me to post this.  By the way, as an aside, Jeff Styles deserves special acknowledgment as one of the classiest acts in the industry.  He’s a true professional in how he conducts himself in business and as a teacher.  Post Getaway, Jeff always e-mails his thoughts on the workshops and to thank me when he’s the one who deserves the appeciation for a super job.

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Vegas Airbrush Getaway Recap

Nicole Brune, an Airbrush Action cover girl (June 2009) in Pinup Class

Gerard Harrigan, Mega Getaway Alumnus, Excelled in Power Portraits

Last week’s Airbrush Getaway was by far one of the most rewarding and challenging.  I’ll start with the challenges.  The setup of the program is quite extensive and complex, and can take up to six hours to complete with a crew of about 20.  It’s usually done the day before the one-day seminars.  However, due to a scheduling conflict with another event (a lingerie fashion show, of all great things), we were denied access to start until 1am

Brian Lynch, spray gun handler extraordinaire, made all believers in Anest Iwata guns

Monday night (Tuesday morning, technically).  Super kudos to the teaching staff for toughing it until 5am, sleeping for only 90 minutes, and teaching that day!!  It took me three days to recover. 

            Ultimately, Jerry Ott’s Power Portraits produced, by far, the best work I’ve ever seen in a portrait class, but it did not start without a hiccup.  Because it was Jerry’s inaugural Getaway, I have to admit that things did get off to a slow and awkward start, and some students bailed for other classes even at my insistence that momentum would hit sooner than later.  My prediction proved correct, and those who stayed not only loved it, but promised to repeat at a future Getaway.  It turned out that Ott’s course is really best suited for advanced, hard-core artists who can reap the benefits of observing a true master at work.  I personally believe that watching Jerry paint on an actual project is a rare and golden opportunity, and I also believe that this course will only get better (Jerry, Javier, and I are already making key changes for the March Getaway in Vegas.  And, yes, Jerry Ott just committed to another one; he wants a rematch, damn it!) A big, warm thanks to Jerry for sharing his techniques, and a special thanks to Javier Soto and Troy Pierce for their support as assistants.

            The program was, in balance, one of the best I’ve seen.  Ryno, who was a last-minute replacement for Craig Fraser, was extraordinary, ensuring that the students executed the most demos ever produced in that class.  Ryno is truly a charismatic and dynamic instructor, and I can’t thank him enough for being so prepared, energetic, and effective.  Fraser was certainly missed by many, but Ryno did an impeccable job filling the void. 

            Scott and Michael Fresener’s T-Shirt Screenprinting three-day course, as always, hits on all cylinders in delivering what it promises, and I don’t believe there is better hands-on instruction on the subject.  Students printed tons of shirts with puff, plastisol, and other specialty inks; really impressive.  For more information on screenprinting, please visit

            I loved the new projects performed in the Murals on Steel and Dynamic Kustom Painting classes.  Cross-Eyed, Jonathan Pantaleon, and Alan Pastrana are always committed to offering new techniques and challenges for their students.

            Also, big thanks and congratulations go to the event’s sponsors; SEM (new sponsor), Anest Iwata, Iwata, Createx, Artool (new sponsor), and Coast Airbrush.  David Vivian and Dan Chester, SEM’s reps, did a superior job, and were there every minute to answer questions, mix paint, and offer solid product support.

Anest Iwata Spray Guns Shine in New Format

            Mark Hebbeler, of Anest Iwata, and Brian Lynch joined forces to initiate a new teaching format to ensure that most students would have the opportunity to handle Anest Iwata’s fine line of spray guns, and learn their intricacies, nuances, and many applications. It was a booming success.  At past Getaways, experienced spray gun users (some for 20+ years) have claimed that the one or two tricks revealed by Lynch were well worth the price of admission alone, and I felt strongly that all students should have this important exposure.  If most T-shirt artists understood how critical and efficient spray guns are for their application, they’d sprint to buy them!  Faux artists, fine artists, illustrators, body artists, spray tanners, and tons more would benefit exponentially from the use of spray guns.  Find out more at

Artograph’s LED 200 Projector Received Raves and an Exciting Buzz

            John Davis, Artograph’s COO, was present to spread the gospel about their new LED 200 Projector and demonstrate its finer points.  The crowd went “wild,” and this product proved to be one of the most exciting ever introduced at the Airbrush Getaway.  The LED 200 plays videos, slide shows, and music like other projectors, but those are just the side benefits.  This projector is loaded with custom features geared specifically for artists, such as six built-in grids for use in layout and design—they can be superimposed over any image or photo for dead-on image alignment and composition—a brilliant color-correct image that’s completely adjustable, excellent keystoning, and their lamp lasts a whopping 30,000 hours (that’s four hours a day for more than twenty years)!  The LED 200 was discounted at the Getaway to $649.95 from $699.95, and all four sold out in less than a day.  Three more were sold on backorder.  Congratulations to Artograph for a smash hit.

The Getaway is truly an incredible program, and I’m proud to be a part of it.  I hope to see you in Las Vegas, at the Rio, February 28 through March 4, 2011.

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On Celebrating Twenty-Five Years

With great humor, I’m reminded of a representative of a major airbrush manufacturer who forecast our doom after issue 1 and stocked up on the premiere issue, banking on its appreciation as a collector’s item. Although our success has probably been to the chagrin of this soul, he can still cash in on that issue after all for about $50 a pop or more, if that’s any consolation.

We seem to have done the near impossible by surviving twenty-five years. And although I’m proud of this achievement, there’s no room for gloating or smugness, or believing we’ve reached the top. We continually fight and struggle to top ourselves. As a vertical publication, we have to strive for uniqueness and innovation to maintain our readership.

The overall key to our success, if I were forced to choose a single dominant element, has to be perseverance. Perseverance against the great threat of failure. Perseverance in grasping at every thread of hope. Perseverance in the struggle against burnout. Perseverance in developing resources. And even perseverance despite better times and twenty-five years under your belt. Perseverance inspired by the deep hunger to survive—and survive well, if possible.

What artist can’t relate to this? What artist worth his or her salt hasn’t faced and overcome tremendous adversity in the drive to survive and to succeed? What artist is ever completely satisfied with his or her work? We have to keep growing to sustain our passion for what we do, or there’s simply no point in doing it.

We appreciate immensely the devotion of our advertisers and our many readers, and we promise to maintain the steady growth and appeal of Airbrush Action, my most cherished accomplishment and most willing sacrifice.  Here’s a toast to all those who believed in Airbrush Action, and even to those who didn’t. And may all the issues be collector’s items!

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The following post is from Jerry Ott’s editorial featured in the July-August issue of Airbrush Action.  It’ s funny, honest, and from the hip; just great stuff that I wanted to share with those who may not have seen it.  Jerry Ott is one of the all-time great photorealists in fine artist, and he was extremely gracious to agree to teach the Power Portraits course at the upcoming Airbrush Getaway in Las Vegas (September 29-October 2).  Enjoy!

Who’d have thought, 43 years ago when I first picked up this strange instrument, that I’d still be going into the studio every day, closing the door behind me and attempting to produce paintings that were largely airbrush-generated artworks categorized variously as “Photorealism” or the more recently categorized “Hyperrealism”?  Although not thinking of myself as an “airbrush artist,” I have nonetheless used one almost without exception to produce the work I’ve done throughout the past decades.

When first approached about this article I couldn’t even quote what brand and type of airbrush I use without some serious thinking (I guessed wrong), nor could I even hope to tell you what type of compressor I use, but I remember it was small, expensive, runs quietly, and has been rebuilt more than once since I purchased it some 20 odd years ago.  In my early career, when the airbrush began a silent mutiny against me and decided to impede my progress, I’d simply take it and smash it against the nearest wall.  Now that I recall these distant episodes, I see them as simple indications of my impetuous youth and long lasting adolescence.  I still, however, have boxes full of their shiny little carcasses and scattered body parts.

I use only one airbrush, and I’ve never used peripheral gadgetry and multiple connections, etc., and that airbrush is generally to be found in a state of extreme external filth and covered in layers of paint, getting cleaned only when its performance begins to falter.  Inevitably and quite often I’ll step on the air hose, instantly pulling the airbrush from my fingers in near supersonic speed and propelling it with a sickening “THUD!!!!!!!” needle first into either the floor or the wall causing great damage and much loud cursing.  I then simply go online and my much needed parts arrive the very next morning to begin the process all over again.

When plans were begun for this article, I had just gathered a number of young women models and asked them to apply heavy makeup and then flood their faces with water to get the makeup to run and smear.  This would be the basis of a four-painting series to be called Pretty Portraits, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment about a somewhat forgotten and relegated style of painting.  These paintings (at 48- by 60-inches) were to be somewhat smaller and also, to a degree, somewhat more straightforward in both their subject and their manner of execution than most of my other work, so they were almost tailor-made for this purpose.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, being somewhat of a pioneer in this particular usage of an airbrush, I naturally helped to spawn a lot of followers in terms of style (much as I was inspired by the work of German artist Paul Wunderlich), and I quickly realized and often stated after seeing tons of poorly executed paintings, that an airbrush is not a substitute for ability; it is not, in itself, a magic tool; yet in the hands of an accomplished artist, it can, in fact, help produce magic.

As an “airbrush artist,” I use no tricks or “shortcuts,” as such, but merely rely upon drawing skill, observation, and years of experience to provide that seat-of-the-pants approach that has served my needs so long.  I use no stencils or templates, and I don’t really have any magic wands to wave.  Here you’ll see the process in a step-by-step fashion in the hope that you may find something helpful and of interest. I will admit with a word of caution, however, that if I should  mention anything having to do with color, please check it out with your own eyes and remember that I am overwhelmingly color blind (having only identified three items out of a color test of twenty four).  I’ve always hoped and thought that this has perhaps helped me to compensate by developing a more acute awareness of value and tone, but that’s all conjecture, and tomorrow you could run into me on the street with one purple sock and one green. . . . . .

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Considering a Kustom Kulture Bash on the East Coast

Hey guys, I’m considering staging a kustom kulture/automotive/bike show next Spring in New Jersey (@ the shore), and wanted your ideas and feedback.  Would you attend?  Would you want to exhibit?  What or who would you like to see there?  Should it be a one- or two-day event?  I believe this type of show is needed, and I would seek the support and sponsorship of some of the industry leaders.  If you’d like to share your thoughts, please e-mail me:

Cliff Stieglitz

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A Sticky Situation with Javier Soto!

Hey guys, thought I’d share with you a Q&A from the September-October 2010 issue of Airbrush Action.  Javier Soto was kind enough to take the time to help out a reader.

There is some glue left from the stencil on my bike. How should I remove the glue from the bike without damaging the water-based paint that I have yet to lacquer.  Thanks, Sean.

The best way that I have found to remove residual adhesives is by using a fresh piece of the same masking material that you used in that job. First, try dabbing it and pulling off the residual adhesive. If dabbing doesn’t do it, try rubbing it across the adhesive (in the same manner you’d use an eraser). If the original masking material doesn’t work well, try using a stronger, or tackier, tape or material. Remember, the key here is to start with a lighter tack first and work up to the tackier tapes.  If all tapes have failed, then you can try solvents, but you must be careful and only use non-aggressive solvents. I would start with mineral spirits and test it on an inconspicuous spot first. It would help to know the exact paint and masking/stenciling material used, but I will tell you what has worked on Createx’s Wicked paint: I’ve used Mineral Spirits, DuPont Final Klean 3901s, and PPG DX330 with minimal problems.  There is always the possibility that the adhesive may be too stubborn to remove without taking some paint along with it, in which case a touch-up or even a dreaded repaint may be inevitable, but from my experience, that has rarely happened. Also, be sure to use quality brands and newer, fresher material.  I like Avery brand masking vinyl and prefer the yellow over the white but I do use both.  I also like Automask from

Good luck and happy painting.

Javier Soto

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It’s All About The Airbrush Master!

I’m very excited about Terry Hill’s new DVD, Airbrush Mastery. Although we will continue to sell Beginning Airbrush with Terry Hill (released in 1993), Airbrush Mastery is its long-awaited replacement with updated information on the latest airbrushes, paint, and techniques. At 102 minutes in length, this is a highly informative presentation for beginning to intermediate airbrush users. Terry Hill is one of my closest friends in and out of the industry, and I’m grateful for his generosity and ongoing commitment to freely share his knowledge for more than 20 years. Also, Airbrush Mastery, his Airbrush Getaway course is now the most popular and highly attended of the entire program.

If you’ve read this, you’re entitled to a Getaway discount, so call me and say you want the Getaway Blog Discount! (732-223-7878).

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