As I found myself preparing to pound the pavement in search of a job for the millionth time, I decided to take a chance and wrap in plastic and neatly pack some of my graffiti hats in my bag alongside my file folder of resume's. There is a shop downtown specializing in high end hip hop clothing and tattoos called Showcase Ink and Apparel, and after chatting up a fellow airbrushing graffiti art on t-shirts I decided some weeks ago that I should bring my work in to see if they might display it for sale.
On the first try I met the apparel manager and one of the tattoo artists, who were both sick of the airbrush artist I had talked to before. They were very positive and enthusiastic about my work, and immediately began talking about having me and my work around. It took two more visits that same day, but on the urging of these two men I also met with the owner of the shop, who reacted somewhat less enthusiastically but still very positively to my work.
The root of the concern was simply that I was using hats which were for all intents and purposes well and good, but which looked like roadkill next to the brand new, super clean merchandise on the walls and in the display cases. So instead of agreeing to display my current work, they instead agreed to give me some brand new merchandise to work on. I was shocked! They asked if I had any airbrushing experience, and I replied that I had some in school and that I had just acquired an airbrush of my own that day. Plans were made for me to return the following Monday, that is today, with some design proposals and to pick up the shoes and hat I would be working on.
I spent Friday and the weekend alternating between painting Megan's parents' kitchen, combing through my black book for designs (working on and finishing several), and wrestling with the arduous task of breaking in a brand new airbrush after having not used one in ten years. The first one, which belonged to Megan's father (who had never used it) had problems immediately, then quit working altogether. The next day, which seemed like an eternity later, we bought a slightly more expensive one for fourteen dollars, and after painting the kitchen some more I tried again, this time successfully, to re-learn the airbrush. Though it aggravated Megan's father that I was in his garage using his air compressor for the rest of the day instead of painting the kitchen, which is a surprise for Meg's mother when she comes back from Hawaii Wednesday night, I persevered until one in the morning. It required some dis-assembly, lubrication, and mechanical improvisation, but I got the airbrush calibrated and in working order. I also acquired some proficiency in actually using it to paint, though I still have a long way to go.
I was literally working on art up until the moment we left to meet the apparel manager at the shop this evening. I brought both of my books with several entries sticky-noted in each. I sat down with Carlos, the apparel manager from before, and pulled out the books while explaining that they were my work books, and that a lot of what's in them is essentially me working out problems with my art. Despite this he went wild and pretty much chose the first three designs he saw for t-shirts. He talked about my influences without me ever telling him what they were, drew comparisons to regional styles which I have picked up, and all in all really didn't seem to mind flipping past the incomplete work. It was already settled that I would do a pair of shoes and a hat, the t-shirts were something of a bonus, but the best part had yet to come: Carlos invited me to come work in
the shop. He began asking me questions about what kind of space I would need and how long it takes me to complete a piece. He essentially wants me to be the resident artist, working on custom graff art in the front of the shop. My main concentration would be t-shirts, but the ideas came flowing out so quick we had to stop ourselves from overextending our plans. First, we agreed, the t-shirts, shoes, and hat. They need to be ready by the Art Walk in December, when I will spend at least one evening in the shop plying my skills for the amusement of the crowds. Everything else can come later.
At the end he handed me a pair of neon lime colored shoes and a crisp, new hat to paint, with the promise that when I return tomorrow he will give me some blank shirts to work on too.
Following this amazing meeting it was back to painting the kitchen, dinner, and then back into the garage for more airbrush practice. At this point I am making great strides technically, having recently mined the internet pretty heavily for learning resources in my few spare moments. While blowback and overspray are still the bane of airbrushing on a solid, flat surface, it seems that I can go hog wild in terms of getting super close when painting fabric. This can result in the super fine lines which allow for great detail, making the airbrush functionally no different from a pen in that regard. After painting for almost six hours last night and four and a half tonight I feel like I'm getting the hang of airbrushing as fast as I need to right now, which is pretty damn fast.
In lieu of one of these "real" jobs happening, this situation seems to be an extremely good thing right now.
+Noise+ Coast to Coast AM