Airbrushing T Shirts

Airbrush T Shirts will cover the basic’s of airbrushing T Shirts and which supplies and equipement you will be needing. by Don Johnson,

Personalizing T Shirts, jackets and hats using an airbrush has been around for years hitting it’s height in popularity in the 1960’s and 70’s for the most part. Today airbrush t shirt shops can still be found in some retail malls, flea markets and a few Walmart stores a crossed the US but the numbers have dwelled.

I have a friend who has been running a successful airbrush T Shirt shop on the board walk in Daytona (The Shirt Shack) for over 50 years in the same location so it can be done but it’s not the easiest business in the world to operate successfully, profitable. As a home based business it’s a great way to make some extra money while expressing your self artistically.


airbrush t shirt

Above shirt airbrushed by T Shirt guru Jammer

The basic pricing for airbrushing simple designs on T Shirts is about $1.00 a minute, a design that takes ten minutes to airbrush would go for $10.00. This pricing has been in place for over twenty years and although all other costs associated with running an airbrush t shirt business have gone up dramatically the base price of $1.00 a minutes has not risen. You can only charge so much for a simple personalized t shirt after all, what the market will bear so to speak.

Tie dyed shirts have been all the rage again recently with high school aged kids so we can only hope airbrush t shirts will come back around in popularity also.

So there is my short take on airbrushing t shirt now what you will need to get started.


The most commonly used airbrush for airbrushing T Shirts is the siphon feed airbrush which handles the higher viscosity textile paints tend to be very well. Be sure to buy the correct hose for the airbrush you buy; Iwata, Badger, Passche all use different size hose’s


badger 175 airbrush


Iwata BCS airbrush



Paasche Vl airbrush

Siphon feed airbrushes also allow for quick color changes which is a must when airbrushing t shirts. The trick is to have separate bottles for each of the main colors you will be using that way you can change colors quickly.


fast blast bottles

Above examples of the type of bottle used in a siphon feed airbrush for quick color changes.



Airbrush holder – provides you with a secure place to set your airbrush down when not airbrushing.(example pictured below)


airbrush holder



Air Source

You’ll need a compressor capable of providing you with 40 to 60 psi working pressure meaning when you are using your airbrush the compressor will provide a steady flow at 40 to 60 psi. If you are just going to be airbrushing a t shirt once in awhile the air compressors marketed for airbrushing should work if the manufactures spec’s name t shirt airbrushing as a use. If you plan on doing a lot of t shirts you will be better off with a commercial type compressor from Sears, Home Depot, Lowes.


 Airbrush Textile Paint

To ensure your design does not wash out of the t shirt you’ll need to use a airbrush paint made specially for the task of airbrushing t shirts. Most if not all of these paints require heat setting the design once airbrushed on the t shirt. Heat setting can be accomplished using a house hold iron or commercial heat press.

Goldens GAC 900 can be used as a clear coat over your design but must be heat set also.
GAC 900 can also be used before you start airbrushing your design on the shirt to knock down the fuzzes which tend to catch over spray. Apply tone or two coats of GAC 900 and heat set as per the manufactures directions to provide you with a super smooth surface to airbrush your design on. For a simple name design this might be a bit over board but for more complex t shirt designs it might well be worth taking this step.

Some of the more popular airbrush textile paints are Aqua Flow and Createx’s Wicked colors, ETAC.


aqua flow paint


createx wicked colors

T Shirts

Of course you’ll need t shirts to airbrush your designs onto. Weather to use 100% cotton or 50/50 blend t shirts is more or less personal preference either will work. It’s said that 50/50 blends the airbrush designs fades less over time and of course the shirt will shrinks less. There is no need to wash the t shirt before airbrushing your design.


Heat Setting

A house hold iron will work for hobby airbrushing t shirts but if you plain on doing a lot of shirts a commercial heat press might be called for.

Here is a video I put together about heat setting t shirts HEAT SETTING T SHIRTS VIDEO

Here is a tutorial I wrote about heat setting setting t shirts HEAT SETTING
Createx recommends: Iron for 2 minutes at 300º F use a protective cloth, keep iron moving at all times.


Design Transfer/Layout

There you have a list of what you will need to airbrush t shirts now getting your design ideas onto the t shirt to airbrush it. You can use a soft lead pencil, vine charcoal to draw your design out onto the t shirt as long as you keep the lines very light.

Here are a couple tutorials about transferring your design onto a t shirt…Tutorial One, Tutorial Two

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *