When it comes to art, most of us would think of painters with their brushes or sculptors clutching hammers and chisels but have you ever heard of anyone brushing with air? When put in that context it sounds a little crazy and out there but airbrushing is most definitely a thing, and has been for hundreds of years now. It is a relatively new artform with a lot of loyal practitioners and users, in this blog we are going to explore the history of this fascinating device and how it came to be.


  1. Airbrush Origins: The Prominent Figures In Airbrush History
  2. Airbrushing As An Artform
  3. The Airbrushing Industry
  4. In Conclusion

Airbrush Origins: The Prominent Figures In Airbrush History

Francis Edgar Stanley

First, we have Francis Edgar Stanley, who patented the first technical airbrush, which he called the Atomizer," in 1876 . Stanley described this patented invention as a creation that could spray "water colors, India ink, or crayons, and also for all kinds of shading in which color can be used in a liquid state." It was a machine that he used to color photographs that had the same mechanism as a diffuser without the continuous flow of pressurized air, vaguely resembling an airbrush with features that let the user control how much would be sprayed.

Abner Peeler and the Walkup Brothers

Abner Peeler, on the other hand, created a device he called a paint distributor that was "for the painting of watercolors and other artistic purposes" in 1878. It was a manually operated airbrush that is capable of producing a continuous supply of compressed air that he used to colorize a photograph of himself, much like how Stanley used his earlier version. Peeler patented the device and later sold it for $700 to the brothers Liberty and Charles Walkup, who used the invention as the basis for a company. Liberty then applied for a second patent for a "double action" airbrush with a single trigger that can control both the pressure and the paint, a design that was a big step ahead for the manually operated airbrushes of the time.

Charles Burdick

In 1990, another airbrush invention was patented by Charles Burdick. It was a much more compact airbrush than Abner Peeler’s version. He later improved the device and came out with the revolutionary internal mix airbrush, an airbrush design that combined both the paint and the air when spraying. This gave the paint a unique finish with its distinct way of application. This invention revolutionized the airbrush industry, and the same internal mix system is continuously being refined to this day.

Airbrushing As An Artform

Airbrushing has evolved wildly from the earlier methods utilized in coloring photos. Nowadays, it is a diverse art that is being utilized in different forms of art and practical use. When did the shift start? When did a device that was originally intended for coloring photos become the standard device that we can see all around us today?

It is an artform that has been around since the late 1900s, but only became widely available during the 20th Century. Man Ray, a prominent painter, photographer, and filmmaker from the 1930s surrealist movement, is considered one of the first artists to ever utilize this art. During the 1940s, airbrushing made its appearance on the big screen through Walt Disney’s films. Its introduction to mainstream media was through one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry of the time, so it is no wonder that by the 1960s, it had already made its way through popular media and became a mainstream artform.

The Airbrushing Industry

Because of its rise to fame, the airbrushing industry is a thriving one. Today, there are many distinct types of airbrushes that serve a range of functions. Hobbyists are one of the customers that the airbrush industry caters to, and there are numerous companies that are made to fulfill every hobbyist’s dream.

One of those companies is Ninesteps Industries, a company created by hobbyists for hobbyists with a shared love for quality tools and equipment. They have an impressive selection of airbrush tools and accessories in stock that are made with high-quality materials and are exquisitely crafted. Check out some of their products below:

NINESTEPS Classic Airbrush

NINESTEPS Classic airbrush features a standard 0.3mm nozzle and a needle limit stop. It's the perfect beginners' airbrush or a no-frills airbrush for the casual user.

Get the NINESTEPS Classic Airbrush here

NINESTEPS Premium Airbrush

NINESTEPS Premium airbrush features a 0.2mm nozzle and a MAC value for adjusting air pressure on the fly. Perfect for finer detailed work such as figure painting and camouflage patterns.

Get the NINESTEPS Premium Airbrush here

NINESTEPS Airbrush Cleaning Pot with Holder

Get the NINESTEPS Airbrush Cleaning Pot with Holder

NINESTEPS Basic Airbrush Bundle

Whether you are looking for some quality tools for yourself or looking for a gift for someone who is interested in airbrushing then this is a great value option. The bundle includes a NINESTEPS Classic Airbrush and a NINESTEPS Airbrush Cleaning Pot with Holder.

Get the NINESTEPS Basic Airbrush Bundle here

In Conclusion

The History of Airbrushing is a colorful one and its rise to prominence is as bright as the products created with it. As we explore the long history of how this device came to be we have seen numerous people who spent portions of their life and wealth to grant us a truly one of a kind art form and device. Throughout the years its evolution from a simple device used to colorize photos and now as a standard painting device is an interesting sight to see. A simple device that created empires and industries, is now a staple object in art, its other forms and practical use.

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