My Name is Cliff Stieglitz, and I Was an Airbrushaholic

Most of you probably don’t know that I started as a T-shirt airbrusher in the early 1980s, well before I launched Airbrush Action magazine.  Originally, I screenprinted shirts, and then graduated to iron-ons at flea markets and fairs.  Next, I incorporated airbrushing, and the rest is cliche.  I was extremely hard-working.  I’d be ready to spray at 7:30a or 8a and work until I sold that last shirt which, at the New York street feasts, could be 2am! In retrospect, it was a grind, but I had the drive, stamina, and enthusiasm to work endless hours; whatever it took.  I was a bull. The money was fabulous; all cash.  Regarding my intense work ethic, I owe much to my father, and working as a busboy in kosher hotels during many teen summers.  Barring some debilitating disease or coma, very little could prevent my father from getting out of bed every day.  It was amazing, and it definitely helped shape me into the tenacious kid and adult I became.  Another significant influence, albeit a negative memory for me, was the busboy gig.  From ages 14 to 18 or 19 I worked summers at the Lido Beach Hotel, Lido Beach, Long Island.  It was six days a week, serving three meals a day, with very little free time.  It was grueling, and to a great degree unfair to force a young kid to do; yes, Dad forced me.  I stuck it out, and later realized that practically any other job or schedule was easy after this stint.  My Dad always promised he’d set me up with something different the following summer, but it never panned out, so ultimately, I took the bull by the horns, followed my entrepreneurial spirit, and started my T-shirt business.  I used the knowledge I gained to start Airbrush Action magazine, and to this day, at the Airbrush Getaways, I’ll always play with an airbrush to gauge my rustiness, and to enthusiastically work with beginning students.  My polish and certain skills may be gone, but I can still perform any lick of the airbrush and have a student achieve a pretty good dagger stroke in five minutes or less.


I’m very excited to report here first that Javier Soto’s Power Portraits DVD arrived late Friday afternoon and will start shipping on Monday, September 10.  A whopping 3 1/2 hours long, this comprehensive instructional title is a 2-disc set that retails for only $29.95 and is available through Airbrush Action magazine, Chicago Airbrush, Coast Airbrush, Dixi Art, TCP Global, and other airbrush outlets.  Mr. Soto deserves big kudos for going the extra mile to reveal all you’ll need to know to render professional caliber portraits.  Power Portraits is a must-see title.

Jaime Rodriguez: The Aftermath

I spoke to Jaime Rodriguez’s wife, Crystal, and she’s doing well.  Crystal is extremely grateful for the enormous emotional support of her family and friends, and strangers who gave so generously in her darkest moment.  We talked about further fund-raising ideas with Airbrush Action’s backing, including the release of all of Jaime’s videos on DVD, and a digital book of all of Rodriguez’s striking T-shirt designs.  Stay tuned for updates.  Crystal deserves much credit for her great strength in the wake of such a tragedy, and for being the terrific mother that she is.

Random Thoughts on the Las Vegas Airbrush Getaway

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Airbrush Getaway, October 8-12. For those of you who plan to attend but haven’t registered yet, there are still seats available for what’s shaping up to be one our best Getaways ever. Here are my random thoughts on some of the classes:

• The new Plotter Mastery with Scott Mackay is superbly run; the students from Disney at the Orlando Getaway, experienced plotter users themselves, were blown away by Mackay’s knowledge and groundbreaking techniques.

• Terry Hill’s Ultimate Airbrush F/X is on fire; it’s the new automotive graphics course with water-based automotive colors.

• Airbrush Mastery has become the Getaway’s flagship course featuring Gary Worthington and Cheryl Vaughan; they’re awesome!

• Dru Blair’s Achieving Photorealism is one of the Airbrush Getaway’s elite training courses offering unparalleled instruction on color theory and, well, achieving photorealistic art.

• Kustom Paint Lab, with Brian Lynch and Armando Serrano, has built a strong buzz as one of the Getaway’s best-kept secrets, teaching top pro spray-gun handling techniques and cutting-edge graphics using kandies, pearls, flakes, striping, and clear-coating.

• Pin-Up Art, conducted by World-class pinup artist Lorenzo Sperlonga, will help you render a professional-caliber portfolio piece in 4 days!!

• Get personal one-on-one instruction from Javier Soto who is trending stronger than any artist. The NEW Power Portraits class is smokin’ hot.

• Automotive greats Jonathan Pantaleon (Automotive Murals on Steel) and reality TV star Ryno (Automotive Cheap Tricks & Special F/X), will conduct their signature courses. They’re super dedicated and ready to share some new information.

• Creating Killer Skulls with Eddie Davis has developed a strong loyal following and continues to evolve as a leading class.

• T-Shirt Lettering Bootcamp, the 1-day hands-on course with Gary Worthington (to date, his DVD of the same name is by far the best ever made), may be the greatest bang for the buck as you’ll learn how to add thousands of dollars to your annual bottom line for only $150!!!

• Dynamic Body Art with Pashur includes Airbrush Tattoos, Body Paint Basics/Biker Event & Nightclub Body Painting, Airbrush Lingerie, and Airbrush Zombie F/X.

• The rest of the lineup includes 5 other one-day classes (Intro Airbrushing, Intro to Auto Graphics, Intro Murals on Steel) and 4-day T-Shirt Airbrushing. For more information, visit or call me at 800-876-2472 (732-223-7878 for international callers). Also, a reminder that I’m treating all Canadian attendees to Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

Plotter Reaction

I received the following response from airbrush great and old friend, Mark Rush:  “Eddie Davis was NOT the first airbrush artist to use this technique. Mark Rush and Tim Mitchell used this exact technique almost 15 years ago at Big Airbrush.I believe Terry Hill also has used this technique before Eddie Davis. No disrespect to Eddie at all. He is an innovator in his own right. FACT check this if you doubt it. The C02 laser is the new tool for this and much simpler and cuts thicker material in half the time with out any tearing.”

First, I’d like to thank Mark for offering his insight. It’s important to note, however, that Eddie was very quick to credit Terry Hill for teaching him this method, and at no time in my previous blog did I state that Davis was the originator.  If anything, I’m to blame for omitting some information in the spirit of keeping my blog posts to a minimum length. If anything, Eddie deserves great credit for sharing his techniques, and for always being there when I need editorial help and ideas.  The very same can be said of Terry Hill and Gary Worthington.

Mark Rush was on the ground floor of the whole Miracle Mile evolution in Ft. Walton Beach/Destin, Florida in the late 1970s and 1980s; a phenom of an airbrush colony of hundreds of terrific T-shirt artists that we’ll unlikley see again. We really need to pick Mark’s brain for vintage and new techniques. Stay tuned.

A Very Cool Plotter Trick From Eddie Davis

To cut stencils on a plotter, Eddie Davis, leading T-shirt airbrush artist from Destin, Florida, sandwiches two pieces of .005 Mylar with the aid of spray adhesive.  The second piece acts as a backing sheet.  He puts that through the plotter with just enough down force (cutting pressure) to cut through the top sheet and only score the bottom, or backing, sheet.  Each plotter’s cutting strength and settings may vary, so experiment until you dial in your machine’s sweet spot.  After cutting, carefully and slowly separate the two sheets and your stencil is ready.  These, and tons of other top pro plotter tips and tricks will be taught at the Las Vegas Airbrush Getaway, October 8-12 at the New Tropicana.  For more information go to

Expert Advice from Airbrush Great Terry Hill

Terry Hill, one the most recognized names in the airbrush industry,  has mentored many artists who have gone on to build airbrushing careers for themselves.  Head instructor of the Airbrush Getaway’s Ultimate Airbrush F/X class, Hill advises, “If you can, attend an Airbrush Getaway or any other airbrush workshop.  These can be rich resources, but even if you get nothing more out of it than learning control of the airbrush, it’s worth it. Without control, you’ll never produce beautiful art.  Specifically, practice the dagger stroke.”

Hill added, “Always stay humble.  Always help those on the way up.  Someday they might be helping you.  Remember that new trends often come from people who differ from the old guard.  As a professional, you are the old guard, so listen to the young people coming up behind you.”

Createx “Gets It.”

Craig Kennedy and Dennis DeLorenzo are the dynamic duo of paint manufacturers.  Owners of the Createx, Wicked and Auto Air Colors brands, these guys truly get that the readers of Airbrush Action are their core market, and they’re aggressive in continually improving their products and customer satisfaction.  Wicked has become the gold standard for T-shirt airbrushing, and many other applications, and Auto-Air Colors is the brilliant alternative in automotive custom painting.  They sponsor the Airbrush Getaway program in large part to keep their pulse on the market and to best understand the needs of artists. Createx is truly a great company, and Craig and Dennis deserve many kudos for their dedication in making your airbrush experience as good as it can be.

NEW Power Portrait DVD Available Next Week!

BIG NEWS!! Power Portraits, the long-awaited step-by-step DVD featuring Javier Soto will be available next week. This title is a 2-disc, 3 1/2-hour long comprehensive presentation by one of the World’s best, and is available for only $29.95.  Also, for anyone interested in learning from Javier in person, he’ll conduct the Power Portraits class in Las Vegas, October 9-12. For more info or to order/register, go to

“Securing a Ruler with Clay” by Johannes Wessmark

I have found that I can achieve absolutely straight lines with soft edges by gliding my airbrush along a ruler affixed with adhesive clay. This is otherwise difficult to do with freehand airbrush or with masks.