In the new Airbrush Step by Step issue 01/19, the American airbrush and automotive artist Ed Hubbs shows how to recreate a high quality airbrush design on a bike take after heavy damage. The original artwork was created by none other than his famous colleague Bob Spina. In this interview, Ed tells about the beginnings of his carrer, about his first attempts in a dirty shed all the way to huge assignments of famous clients and TV appearances.
Ed,when did you have the idea to start with airbrushing?
Ed Hubbs: At age of 15, I became interested in painting model cars. What started this desire was, I had seen on the side of a marvel model box that they had used a Paasche Air Brush to do models with. So I asked my parents about this and never received much response from either of them at that time, until my 16th birthday they bought me one. My dad had a shop that he did a lot of metal fabrications on farm equipment and mechanical repairs in. Off to the side of his shop was a wood shed. I asked him if I could use the wood shed to paint my best friends car. So dad bought me a spay gun for fifteen dollars. I used blankets and plastic to cover all the wood to keep the dirt down and started painting cars in it.
I am getting to what started me airbrushing:Imagine painting in a place that has a dirt floor with wood stove in it with a extension cord and a hundred watt light bulb for lighting. As you can imagine there was light and dark spots in the paint job, bugs, dirt, etc. etc. So with not knowing how to fix everything, I started painting graphics and murals everywhere to cover up my mistakes. After a while everyone was asking wanting graphics, so the airbrush was my Fix All. I realized I could make good money with this and have fun while fixing my mistakes.
After seeing how the airbrush could save my paint jobs I decided to try and incorporate airbrushing into all of my paint jobs. The airbrush I started out using was a single action airbrush, which started me out learning bad habits that I would later on correct. There was no one and I mean no one to learn from, so I just kept experimenting and trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Once I graduated I moved into town and got a job as a helper in a body shop.Living with my parents way out in the mountains and then moving to the city was quite the eye opener for me.
Working in a body shop helped me a lot. I wanted to learn everything from body work to painting as a lead painter. I struggled for years with the airbrush, trying to make my art work look like what I was seeing at the car shows.But once I figured it out, nothing was going to stop me from achieving my goals.It took years to get recognized as a good airbrush artist. And as far as finally being recognized I owe it to my buddy Tyson Martin for starting a Youtube channel for me and producing a lot of my first videos. I now film, edit and produce my own videos.But the one man who opened so many doors for me is Dave Monnig, owner of Coast Air Brush.Dave has helped so many artists in this industry and I am one of the many he’s helped. Thanks from all of us Dave.
Did you ever take art classes or have you learned from anybody?
Ed Hubbs: I flunked art in high school, because I could not follow the rules. When everyone was drawing birds for a project, I was drawing a dragon. I went to my first car show at the age of 18, then I knew I really wanted to airbrush. I went to the Portland Roadster Show and had seen all of the lowrider art. I was hooked! Back when I started airbrushing no-one would give you any information on how to airbrush. There was no Internet, Youtube or Instructional DVD’s to help. I had no outside help. I was determined to teach myself. I vowed if I ever made a name for myself, I would pay it forward and help anyone, anytime.
Which direction is your art tending and which backgrounds do you like to use the most?
Ed Hubbs: I really don’t have a direction with my art work, because I am an automotive painter and it gives me a lot of background for autos, motorcycles quads, sand rails, snowmobiles, motorhomes and boats. I would say the most rewarding projects are the heart felt ones. I’ve airbrushed caskets and memorial bikes. The hardest casket I have ever done was for my Grandson Hadden, my stepdaughter Ashley and Britt’s baby boy. I literally cried while doing his casket.
Which are your favorite paints?
Ed Hubbs: As far as colors go, I really have no preference. I use what colors I need for whatever the project may be. Every project is different, so I use a variety of colors. I love using a brand named House Of Kolor.
Which is your favorite airbrush?
Ed Hubbs: I use only Iwata airbrushes. My first Iwata was the HP-B and the most favorite ones I use the most are Custom Micron CM-C plus. I also use the HP-C plus airbrushes a lot in my paintings.
Could you tell us a little about your exciting projects and the TV shows that you have been involved?
Ed Hubbs: I built a kit car in 1986 and we won the best and crafted car in the world, by Kit Car magazine. In a hand crafted show, the car was a 18984 Fierro that was made to look like a GTO Ferrari. Ferrari sued us for 5 million dollars. The car looked to close to their car. We settled the lawsuit and ended the company. We were published on the front cover of Kit Car Magazine in 1986 and also published in a couple other magazines with that car.
There was a guitar that I painted that was a very cool art piece. I was contacted by Yamaha guitars to paint a guitar for Michael Anthony, former bass player for Van Halen and he sent me a picture of him on stage in New York playing the bass I painted for him.
Something that I created from my own idea were several paintings I did for a company called Bow Tech.I was contracted to paint live at their ATA show in Indiana. That was a very rewarding experience.
I created designs for several funny cars that were on the front cover of National Dragster.A funny car that I painted for Brian Hough was on ESPN-2 when he won the nationals in Vegas.
One design I created for a company called Kymera body boards was featured on the tv shows “Shark Tank” and “American Inventor”.I’ve had several designs I’ve painted on vehicles featured in magazines such as Power Diesel, Auto Art, Truckin, Lowrider, Science and Art, Sand cars, Kit Car Magazine.
At one point I was sponsored by SATA spray equipment and was featured 16 times on the back cover of Air Brush Action with the famous Hell Camino that I painted and airbrushed.
You have also been involved with “Pimp my ride”, right?
Ed Hubbs: Yes. When my mom was passing away, the last couple of hours that I spent with her, she told me that I was going to be published in the House of Kolor calendar and also be on the TV show „Pimp My Ride“. I said, „Mom, what the heck do you know about the magazine and the show?“ Now mind you, my mom is my biggest fan. She said in her smartass voice that I loved so much because her and I were best friends and was always joking with each other. She said, „I know that you have sent pictures to the House of Kolor Calendar and never been published, but I will be gone within days and you’re going to be published and I wont get to see it.“ As she calls me a little shit, haha. Then she goes on to tell me that I will airbrush on „Pimp My Ride“. I asked her, „old lady, what do you even know about that show?“ I can still hear her voice to this day saying, „I know what it is, there is that guy called Biscuit on there.“ OMG, mom, you mean Xibit, hahaha! And she replied,“ you know what I mean you, little shit.“ God, I miss my mom! Well, my mom passed away soon after that.
I was headed to Coast Airbrush Blockparty in Cali and met Rich Evans. He has two daughters the same age as my girls and we were talking when he had a customer. I came up to him at his booth and asked if he could go look at his car and I told Rich to go and I’ll play dolls with his daughters while he did buiness with his customer. When Rich was done he said, „Whatever you want man.“ I said, “ the next show you’re on, I want to be in it.“ Well, a couple months later he called me and asked if I can be in Cali in a couple days to be on the show. I thought, Pimp My Ride… NO WAY!!!!
I did the TV show and a couple months later I received an envelope with the House of Kolor calendar in it and a certificate also. I received the Award in August of that year and as I was reading the certificate, I started crying, wishing my mom was alive to see all of this. And just as those thoughts were in my head, a tear dropped the certificate and landed on the date it was presented. The date was July 20th, which is my mom’s birthday. Chills went down my back. My mom was there she never left me.
Are you holding workshops or classes for beginners?
Ed Hubbs: I have taught classes for about ten years now. I have taught for Iwata in Utah a couple times. For 5 years I tought one on one classes. The one on one classes were held at my house. I taught them in my shop and provided a place for them to stay in an apartment, I fed them meals during their stay. I have not taught for a couple of years now, but I am planning on starting classes again.
What about the Youtube channel, that you have mentioned?
Ed Hubbs: When I started my Youtube channel, I spent hours setting it up and made hundreds of videos. I was sponsored by a company that I did over 30 videos for. And, to make a long story short, what they promised me, never happened and we parted ways. For years I answered every question that I was asked on Youtube. I spent hours answering questions. I spent two to three hours a day helping others and answering every question asked. But it became overwhelming and out of control trying to help everyone. My family was suffering from my work ethics. In 2021, I will start doing videos again on Youtube.
What are your plans for the future?
Ed Hubbs: I get asked all the time, „What are my plans for the future?“ As I get older, my plans have changed. I have worked crazy hours for most of my working career, and the last couple of years, I have taken a brake from airbrushing. I have slowed down quite a bit.
I have taken on a full time job as a Foreman and Lead painter of a paint and body shop. In 2010, I went through some tough times emotionally and financially and had to make some changes in my life. I am now getting back on track and plan on making a lot of new 10 minute instrutional videos for my Youtube channel. My future plans include starting an airbrush class room again and start teaching students. I really miss the teaching aspect of airbrushing. I want to create art for myself also.
Can you give our readers any advice (especially to newcomers) on how to get started and build up a business with airbrushing?
Ed Hubbs: If I was going to give any advice to an airbursh artist starting out in this business, I would say, „do your research first.“ What I mean by that is, there is a lot to getting started and staying in business for yourself. Just knowing how to airbrush and having a couple customers is just the beginning. A good location is huge on where you want to start your business. Make sure that all of your equipment and business is up to code. My personal opinion is, stay small and don’t get caught up in thinking you need a huge shop. At least until you’ve been established in the industry for a while and are ready to expand.