Collision Repair Magazine
Rise to Flame PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 26 February 2010 12:19
What began as a passion soon became a way of 
life for Canadian custom painter and airbrush artist, Ron Gibbs. He uses his skills to make a difference and transform traditional airbrush art.
Hailing from Ontario, Ron Gibbs had a special fondness for cars ever since he was a child. As a teenager, he was intrigued by the craze of custom painted vans in the 1970s. A background in art helped Gibbs focus his artistic skills into airbrushing and pin striping, learning both skills at the same time. Wanting to learn more about pin striping, Gibbs discovered the work of Ed Roth and was inspired to follow in his footsteps.
Ed Roth was the man behind the widely popular “Rat Fink” character that went on to become an icon and phenomenon in the custom scene in the 1950s and 1960s. Rat Fink is a big green mouse with bloodshot eyes and yellow teeth that resembles anything but your average comic book character.
”Roth was also famous for transcribing his airbrush talent away from the automobile,” said Gibbs. “He would airbrush Rat Fink and other characters on t-shirts and it was inspiring to see what else an airbrush artist could do with his talent.”
Ron Gibbs has been painting for 30 years and has airbrushed everything from monsters to flames on a variety of surfaces – even airbrushing Elvis on a series of snowboards for a show in Salt Lake City sponsored by Iwata. Gibbs enjoys painting flames, noting that pin striping gives an almost 3D illusion to them.  
“Painting flames on cars has withstood the test of time,” says Gibbs. “They’ve been done for so many years by countless artists and have always been cool.”
Car art and airbrushing have not traditionally illustrated much social conscience. Women are often depicted within a mix of skulls, monsters and dragons. Gibbs believes these images of women are often degrading and have a negative effect on society and how this filters into general attitudes towards women. He plans to be much more selective and sensitive.
“Women have been exploited and objectified and these depictions have seemed acceptable,” says Gibbs. “I’ve painted some offending images in some of my older work and I was really unaware of the impact at the time. But times are changing and it’s time to paint something constructive for society.”
Ron Gibbs plans on becoming a father. His four stepchildren have inspired him to contribute to positive changes in the industry. One of the ways Ron does his part to contribute positively is through teaching.  
In the past, airbrush artists have been known to keep their techniques secret. These days, however, they enjoy teaching others how to make their own awe-inspiring works of art. The classes Gibbs and other airbrush artists teach work on a very personal level so that in a matter of hours, beginners can walk away with skills that may otherwise take them years to learn.
Focusing his talent on canvas now, Ron uses airbrushing skills to illustrate Canadian artists. A recent portrait of Canadian trumpet legend Jim Philip has generated plenty of attention from the public, even landing the piece a spot on television.  
“I’ll still be custom painting cars in the future,” says Gibbs. “I’m just going to focus a little more on painting other things. My next project will be a canvas portrait of my wife Nancy, and will be done entirely in automotive paint.” crm Rise to Flame


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