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Airbrushing T-shirts and Clothing
Creating Custom Airbrush Art on Clothing

By Ray Gatica:

As an airbrush artist we get calls for creating unique, fun airbrush art on clothing because when creating on clothing, a one of a kind designs, we do not have to create masters like in silk screening and the turn around time is a lot quicker and its a little less expensive in most cases.

Sometimes we get calls from people that get both of these techniques mixed up. It is also a whole different process.

Silk screening is what you see most on the streets when you see graphics on T-shirts and clothing. This process allows to create and the same design quicker and more economical that airbrushing the shirts. This is because the airbrushed stuff is more of a one of kind deal. Normally most airbrush artist do not recreate the same design repeatedly, so each shirt will be unique.

Ray Gatica, is the main artist at Airbrush Magic, in Houston, TX. We have been airbrushing for over twenty years. We have done airbrushing on a whole variety of surfaces, from motorcycles, cars vans, airplanes and on clothing and fabric and textile like curtains, dress shirts, jackets; and believe it not even on a fur coat.

When it comes to airbrushing on T-shirts or what ever it is, there are various ways of creating the design. First of all one can paint the design by free handing the design, which means just spraying straight on to the surface. Even though this might be simpler it also takes experience in using the finger control so that you can draw the design from your head and then fill in it in with the color. . This usually is acceptable in most cases when the they customer is looking for the not-to-sophisticated, free hand, airbrush art feel on the shirts. This approach is usually done by lesser experienced airbrush artist that do not know of other of more advanced, sophisticated techniques. This usually works well in most cases but the art, since it is free handed will look fuzzy and dirty because the edges airbrush spray is not contained. However some people like this effect because it looks more spontaneously created and more like original, raw art.

When needed, Gatica takes a different approach that entails cutting friskets (positive images/stencils cut on tape for the purpose of containing the over-spray to a particular space dictated by the cut image), and shields that allow the airbrush spray to be contained. Gatica prefers this method because the airbrush art will look cleaner and more professional. Doing it this way, the airbrush can compete with the silkscreen technique mentioned above.

Gatica has spent a large time of his airbrush career in painting and touching up photos with the airbrush. This was, of course, before the computer came into existence, along with programs like PhotoShop and other art and photo editing programs. This experience has given Gatica a good feel when it come to creating airbrush art on what ever surface.

In cutting friskets and shields, Gatica, uses prepared masking film that comes from art supply stores along with application tape found in sign shop supply shops. He even uses scrap laminate that he collects from laminate shops to make shields and stencils that he also uses to paint on fabric. He uses these friskets, shields and templates to cut letters, make curves, straight lines, circles, and other precut images, images used to create intricate designs and paintings on fabric and clothes. These techniques are more advanced are usually learned after a few years of airbrushing. However, when teaching airbrushing he shows the techniques to students at an early stage than when he learned it.

He also provides tips on where to get some of the material at a good price. And maybe even for free. These tips are priceless and are very important when someone is starting airbrushing.

Over the years we have created and painted a variety of design art. We have created Disney characters, Created some pretty sophisticated art and designs airbrushing on leather jackets, pants, jeans, T-shirts, vest, etc. Some of the designs have been more interesting than others but it has all been fun. I still enjoy the challenge when customers come by with some weird idea and I have to figure out how to make the art come to life for the customer. All the ideas are different and need to be given some consideration when approaching each painting.

Our work can be seen at our website at We can be reached at 281-441-9714 or Email: