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Live Airbrush Entertainment: Are We Artists or Entertainers?

When you think of an artist, what do you imagine? Event entertainers probably aren’t the first thing that pops up. 

Do you think of someone in paint-splattered clothing, standing before an easel, skillfully brushing oils on a lifelike portrait? Perhaps you imagine someone in a field of wildflowers clutching a watercolor journal and paintbrush? Or is the artist someone just this side of madness, in a light and airy loft studio randomly throwing tins of paint at an over-sized canvas?

Leonardo Da Vinci Burlington House Cartoon
Leonardo da Vinci - Burlington House Cartoon

These are the visions most think of when asked to describe an artist, someone working in solitude to create a painting or drawing of their mental vision. But artists work in many mediums, forms, techniques, and styles. 

When Da Vinci created the Burlington House Cartoon, he did so on 8 sheets of paper glued together. He then blew charcoal into pinholes and highlighted with chalks. No paint or paintbrush was used, yet a master artist created a 4’6” artwork revered to this day.

When did airbrushing become an art form?

The airbrush was first invented in the 1870s, as a way to continuously coat photographic plates. By the 1880s, airbrushing was being taught as an art form.

The American impressionist Wilson Irvine, famous for his landscapes, learned the technique. In the 1940s, Walt Disney used airbrushing to create backgrounds for Courvoisier cel characters to be sold in Courvoisier galleries. 

Airbrushing was very popular with the hippy movement in the 1960s and ’70s but reached its pinnacle of popularity during the 1980s.

Here in Florida, the boardwalks would be littered with airbrush shops and no spring break was complete without an airbrushed t-shirt to take home.

An airbrush store front at Hampton Beach, NH
No trip to the beach was complete without some airbrush apparel.

Art creation as a form of entertainment is nothing new. From the medieval royal courts of Europe to modern street artists, audiences have enjoyed watching live artists perform their artistry.

So…artists or event entertainers?

We are artists who entertain. 

I consider myself an artist first, an artist who uses his form of creating artwork to entertain audiences at events. However, to be successful airbrush event artists, we must find a balance between being artists, entertainers, and professional business entrepreneurs. 

All artists must find their artistic level, we cannot all be a Rembrandt or Picasso. Considering it took Rembrandt 3 years to create The Night Watch, I can safely say this level of artistry is unsuitable for event entertainment. 

Similarly, we could have kids at a birthday party roaring with laughter all evening but if we couldn’t produce party favors the kids were excited by and wanted to take home, the parents would be disappointed. But sitting in a corner with a sour face on producing remarkable artwork also misses the balance of a successful airbrush events business.

Balance is the key

A hand holds an airbrush gun painting block lettering onto a white shirt.

If clients were simply looking for party favors to hand out, they would email a list of names and ask for the favors to be produced and delivered prior to the event. Our clients are looking for an artistic performance.

In order to strike the right balance, we don’t need to be fine artists. We need to be good airbrush artists who can engage a crowd while quickly producing party favors anyone would be happy to take home.

We also need to deal with clients and potential clients in a timely and professional manner. Clients need to feel that we understand what is important to them and are willing to go above and beyond to ensure their event is a success. 

While I consider myself an artist first, I am very proud that at Airbrush Events, we have found the right balance between artistry, entertainment, and professionalism in dealing with clients.

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