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No Degree Required: I studied IT and audio engineering, but followed my love for art to be an airbrush artist

My innate love for art since young is the reason why I am an airbrush artist today.

My passion for airbrush painting grew. I attempted to start a small business and began painting motorbikes for some friends.

One of my clients was from Yew Heng Group, a local auto dealer, who saw my potential. I gradually started a partnership with Yew Heng Group to set up Paint Extreme in 2010. Today, I have two staff members under me.

The bulk of our business comes from painting bicycle frames and racing helmets. We also paint items such as sculptures and various 3D-printed objects.

Airbrush painting is painstaking work. The process begins with preparation, which includes sanding off old paint and spraying primer onto the object.

Colours are then mixed according to the client’s preference, and the object is masked with tape before painting.

Airbrush artistry demands an acute eye for detail and a steady hand, as artists delicately manipulate colours, shading and gradients to create stunning visual effects.

It is not just about evenly coating surfaces with paint; it’s about achieving exceptional finishes, protecting against corrosion, and enhancing aesthetics. 

Depending on the design, I may use a small or big air-powered tool to accurately apply paint while adjusting for different materials and conditions.

I then do a quality check before spraying the topcoat. Drying takes approximately 48 hours before a second round of checks is done.

Should there be any blemishes, I will fine-sand the object and polish it to achieve the optimal finishing. It is then ready for delivery or collection.

Success did not come easy.  

I dove into research and development to obtain the ideal paint quality for my clients, struggling to find paints which suited the humid weather in Southeast Asia.

I brainstormed about how to fulfil my clients’ design requests. I also never stopped experimenting with different mediums — from acrylic to oil-based paint — to achieve different finishes ranging from single shades to multicoloured “chameleon” effects. 

I believe I have explored and learnt tremendously throughout my 17-year career.

One significant achievement would be the opportunity to complete a project for the Malaysian royal family in 2019, which won me many repeat clients.

Another would be collaborating with Mr Jahan Loh, a contemporary artist based in Singapore. Jahan designed and I painted a helmet for local singer JJ Lin. We also collaborated on another helmet for beer brand Heineken at the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix.

In 2019, indoor skydiving company GoAirborne Macau contacted me to paint helmets for their crew.

It was also a privilege to paint the helmet for Singaporean racing driver Yuey Tan in 2022.

I am thankful that my family is very supportive of my career and in future I hope to be able to gain more international recognition for my work.

For anyone who is interested in entering the airbrush painting industry, the most important aspect is to have passion and creativity.

Also, do not take any shortcuts to reduce the time taken to complete a project — quality is of the utmost importance.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER:

Mr Eric Ng Jun Wei, 41, is a professional airbrush artist. His interests also include basketball and music.

If you have an experience to share or know someone who wishes to contribute to this series, write to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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