Airbrush shirts are fun and easy if you are of the artistic mindset. For most creative people, the hardest part is mastering the airbrush itself. Having the right tools is also a vital part when it comes to laying down paint on a piece of clothing. When you have some practice under your belt, you should be able to come up with some amazing designs in no time.
Airbrush shirts have been around for quite some time. It has been a display of personal design and continues to do so today. Although you will not be able to find too many places that deal in just airbrush shirts, there are a few out there in places such as shopping malls, flea markets, and a select number of stores across the country. I, for one, try to keep my airbrush business inside my garage.
Some of the basic items you will need in order to get started are:
Your airbrush. Lots of professionals use the siphon feed airbrush for its convenience. They can handle a thicker paint and are easier to use when switching from one color to the next. It is important that you have the right items that are specific to your airbrush because different manufacturers use different size hoses and attachments. Some of the better makers of airbrushes I have seen are Badger, Paasche, and IWATA.
Your Compressor. Choosing the right compressor depends on what you want to accomplish as well as your personal preference. If you want to airbrush a lot of shirts, you probably want a heavy duty compressor. If you are just doing a few here and there, a smaller one will do just fine. You also need to think about what type of brush you have and what the specs call for to function properly. Since most airbrushed shirts are designed with textile paints, a PSI of around 40 to 60 will get you a good coverage and spray pattern. All in all, choosing an air compressor takes a lot of research. There are things to think about like noise, size, what type of regulator you want, how long the rest periods will be along with brand and type. I would recommend going to a professional or calling a manufacturer and letting them know what you are interested in doing and they will be happy to assist you in your purchase.
Your Paint. Like I said before, most shirts are painted with Textile paints. These paintings need to be heat set into your fabric to make them permanent. All you really need for heat setting is an iron set to the paint manufacturer's specifications and heat is applied. When starting a project some artists like to heat set a layer of clear coat to lay down any fuzzes and get a nice, smooth starting point. Then they heat set another clear coat after their project is finished to help it keep longer. This is mainly used for more detailed pieces but is not necessary for smaller designs.
Your Shirt. Nothing too fancy here. 100% cotton works just fine. So does any 50/50 blend.
You will also need to construct a board to put inside your shirt. The purpose is to hold up the fabric and keep it taught and smooth. It also keeps your paint from seeing to the back side of your shirt.
All in all, air brush shirts are great for displaying your artistic abilities to the world. I enjoy creating pieces for softball teams of community events. I hope this gives a basic insight on what is needed for airbrush shirts.