AIRBRUSH KILLER Q&A: Has anyone ever worked on neon-colored shirts? Are they prepped the same as black shirts?

Neon shirts, a major fad in the 1980s, are making a comeback. “There’s no prep needed, really, because you can paint right on them,” says Terry Hill, master of T-shirt airbrushing. But you do have to keep that background color in mind.

“The majority of T-shirt paints are transparent, so the shirt color is going to come through the design,” Hill explains. “If you spray blue on a neon yellow shirt, for example, what you’ll see is green.” Color contrast is affected, too; fluorescent paint on a neon shirt won’t pop the way it will against a white background. So it’s important to think the design through carefully before you start.

“Fluorescent shirts make very nice backgrounds for sunset designs and such,” Hill finds. “You just have to create your design and make your stencil with the color of the shirt in mind. It can still be contrast-y enough to look great.”


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