Monday, October 5, 2015

STUDIO SPACE: Michael Dougherty

Born and raised in Philadelphia PA. Michael Dougherty graduated from The Art Institute of Philadelphia. He moved to Cincinnati right after college in 1985 and has been pursuing a career as a freelance illustrator ever since. His work has included illustrations for such companies as Procter & Gamble Co., Kenner corp. the Kroger Co., Hallmark and a number of small publishing companies advertising agencies, studios and corporations.

He opened Anything Airbrushed plus in 1991 with studios in various locations throughout the Cincinnati area over the years. The main location is in Tri-County Mall with a seasonal location inside the Beach Waterpark.

Location: Sharonville, Ohio
On the Drawing Table: The Halloween season is extremely busy for my Anything Airbrushed plus studio. We do a number of props, costumes and backdrops for various customers as well as our ever so popular Airbrushed Halloween Make-up.

How did you get your start as a professional artist?
While I was finishing college in Philadelphia I was able to get a few Freelance clients under my belt, including, Asian World of Martial Arts, The Philadelphia Magic Company and Dorrance & Co. Publishing. The assignments from these places allowed me to move after college and yet still have a little income. Once I got settled here with the help of an Aunt and Uncle who were living here at the time, I was able to land some freelance work from David Kallaher Animation Studio here in town while still looking for full-time work.

I transitioned into my first full time job in the fall of 1985 as a Production artist at Amko Plastics. This job lasted less than a year as the company was making some cuts. Rather than transferring to a different position, I opted to quit. I contacted David Kallaher studio again and they just so happened to be looking for more freelance artists so I was back in the Freelance business and have never held a full-time position since.

Since then I have freelanced for a number of advertising agencies and studios as well as teach the airbrush illustration course at the Art Advertising Academy(later called The College of Art Advertising) for over 11 years. The School is now gone but many happy memories of the staff and students remain.

I opened Anything Airbrushed plus in 1991 and currently have 4 other artists who work on a daily basis and a number of other artists that I can call on for special projects and events.

Describe your work.
My illustration work is a combination of airbrush and some details put in with either colored pencils or fine brush work….but it is mostly airbrush using acrylic paint. Since the subject matter varies with almost every assignment the look will also vary. Some assignments may call for more realism and then the next project may call for something more whimsical or cartoon like. So I have to be able to create a number of certain looks at any moment.

Tell about your workspace.
I am actually lucky to have 3 “Studio spaces”…The first is an old shed out in the back of my house which I converted into my studio where I do a lot of my illustration work.

The second is the actual work area in the front of our Tri-County Mall studio where I can do both illustration work as well as any other assignments ranging from t-shirts, helmets, automotive parts and pretty much any surface you can possibly imagine.

And then there is the back of the Tri-County Mall studio where I work on a lot of larger things such as backdrops and props as well as the area where we do a lot of Body painting.

Last there is our Beach Waterpark location where we do the typical Amusement park things like t-shirts and temporary tattoos.

What are your favorite materials digital and traditional?
I work strictly traditional and on occasion I will bring something into Photoshop to add lettering. I say “Traditional”…..that is unless you are one of those people who do not consider an Airbrush as a traditional medium. For some odd reason people don’t view us(airbrush artists) as artists...I have no idea what else they think we are...but they don’t consider us artists. We hear this on a daily basis from people coming in the studio and looking at all the artwork on the walls and even stand there and watch us paint something right in front them and yet they still ask….Are you an Artist?

Airbrush Artists start each project like any other artist, we stand in front of a blank canvas,
t-shirt, helmet, motorcycle tank, wall, human name it. We pick up a pencil or piece of charcoal, look at our model or reference picture and start drawing...just like any other “traditional” artist. The only difference comes into play when we are finished drawing and ready to paint.  We reach for an airbrush while a “traditional artist” reaches for a paint brush.

The airbrush artist is for the most part the only exposure the average person gets to a real life working artist on a daily basis. Everything that other artists and illustrators do in the privacy of their own studio, we do right out in front of people watching everything we do.

Airbrush artists have the ability to paint anything on anything. There is no such thing as a “Watercolor shop”, there is no such thing as an “Oil painting shop”, or “Colored pencil shop”, or “Pastel shop”…or even a “Computer generated artwork shop”…There are only “Airbrush shops”

The Airbrush is the perfect tool for painting any surface. Which is why when the average person needs something painted the only person they can turn to is the local airbrush artist. Simply because they do not know how to find any other kind of “Traditional artist” because as I said no other medium has stores in a public setting strictly dedicated to that medium except for airbrush stores.

You can’t just walk into a silk screener and say ”I need a shirt printed for my grandmothers 80th birthday” Silk screeners don’t do just 1-2 shirts they do mass quantities. Where as an airbrush
artist can do 1 or 100 shirts.  When the average person wants a family portrait, they can’t afford the likes of International portrait artist Igor Babailov, they come to us because they are exposed to us on a daily basis and therefore by default we are the first “Traditional” artist they think of who can create something for them.

The great thing about this job is that it’s something new everyday. We often say that
our inventory is only limited by the size of our customers imagination. We couldn’t possibly think of everything we could paint because that is endless. On the other hand we don’t have to because our customers do that for us.

I would never have thought of painting an artificial leg, but we have, for a customer who
wanted her leg painted for a Jimmy Buffett concert. I would never have thought of painting a tombstone or coffin but we have done those also. Not to mention the amount of shoes or batting helmets, motorcycle helmets and tanks, murals, backdrops, props of all shapes, sizes, subject matter and material and of course all types of apparel. No other artist can do all these things with their chosen medium. 

What’s your typical workday/work session like?
You can typically find me in our Tri-County studio during the week from 10am-3pm although I do usually get there between 8am-9am so I can work undisturbed for a while before I have to open the gate. Then I leave and pick up our kids from school, do the typical parental after school routine of homework, sports, school activities and then I may return to work for any unfinished projects. Either out to the backyard or back to the mall.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated as you work?
I may listen to Radio Margaritaville, or NPR but most of the time I am so engrossed in what I am doing that time goes by before I even realize I haven’t put on any background music.

What is your dream job?
The short answer is….I’m doing it.

I make these Halloween and Christmas decorations(see below) for outside our house and years ago a neighbor had asked my wife “Why doesn’t Mike apply to work at Disney or Universal?” “He is so good and wouldn’t he rather work there?. My wife just said something like “He loves what he does here”

We talked about it later and she admitted she was really insulted by the question. She said “You own your own business, you have artists who work with you, you set your own schedule, you have time for family and friends….why would she think there was anything better?....and I agree.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Unfortunately I do not have as much time as I would like to just sketch. I take a sketchbook with me on every vacation, and yet never take the time to do any sketching.

Who are your artistic influences?
Growing up in Philadelphia there was a local TV show called the Gene London show. He would tell stories while illustrating them and I was hooked on art ever since. That lead to Charles Schultz and Walt Disney as early influences. Since I was in college in the 80’s when Airbrush was the #1 most sought after medium that every art director was looking for I couldn’t help to get my influences from the likes of Bob Peak, Dave Willardson and Charles White III, Michael Cacy, Jerry Lofaro, Sorayama. Then in the 90’s Mark A. Fredrickson, David Kimble and of course Cincinnati’s very own Jim Effler and Dave Miller(AirStudios).

What do you do that is not art related that inspires you?
 I run on a daily basis, I love hiking,  I am an avid reader of Western novels, also myself and my family enjoy anything to do with Disney.

What was the best advice you got in your career so far?
In college I was told by my graphic design instructor that I would never be successful as an illustrator…despite this opinion, I think I’ve done OK so far.  In return the advice I would give would be to work hard, be willing to compromise on some things, take criticism with an open mind and always take proper steps to follow your dreams

How can we best follow your art online/on social media?
Our website really sucks…lol…it’s on my “To Do list”….but you can visit both  and  our Facebook page always has new things added to it  our instagram is our twitter is