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M.O.B. Scene - Average Time and Cost of Airbrushing

Got a paint or airbrush question for the M.O.B.? Get it answered here—for free!

Feb 1, 2012
My name is Dylan, and I am a big fan of the wild and crazy airbrushed paint schemes you see at SEMA and at bike events such as Daytona Bike Week.

My question is: How long does it take to do the average full custom airbrushed paintjob, and what is the average cost to complete one?
I don’t think a lot of people know much about the airbrush work guys like you do. And I for one think it is very interesting and really impressive to see what kind of art can be applied to the awesome trucks such as the ones in this magazine.

Thanks for your time, and keep up the great work in 8-Lug!

Dylan S.
Alberta, Canada
Photo 2/3   |   mob Scene Average Time And Cost Of Airbrushing custom Painted Mustang
First of all, thank you for the compliments! I am glad you have seen lots of airbrush work and that you appreciate it. Artists from all over the world put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into these amazing works of art that inspire all of us airbrush guys to do what we do!

So, how long do these projects generally take and how much do they generally cost?

Well, those can be loaded questions, and because each artist lives and operates in different parts of the world, the economies in their areas differ. Therefore, what he or she can collect for his or her services can vary drastically!

For example, where I live and operate, I am fortunate to be right in the middle of an oil-rich economy that allows me to get fairly close to what my work is worth. Not top dollar, but awfully close in a lot of cases. I know some airbrush artists who operate in areas of the world like the Philippines and Malaysia, and when we discuss what the pricing trends are in our respective parts of the world, there is a huge gap—and it can be quite startling! But for me, the average price tag attached to a fully airbrushed mural and graphics package on a factory basecoated fullsize pickup would be in the area of $5,000 to $10,000, including all prep work and finished clearcoat.

Now that’s a big range, and certainly there are always exceptions to the rule. Smaller vehicles require fewer materials, but not always less time, so just because something is smaller, doesn’t always mean it is cheaper or takes less time. Motorcycle parts are awesome to paint and allow both artist and owner to express themselves. The cost to paint the average set of bike tin (tank and two fenders) in my area can be anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000. Again, the caliber of the artwork, the complexity of the details, and the degree of difficulty of the artwork and the area you live in can all be factors in determining the price.

What I charge $2,000 for, another (maybe better or more detailed) artist may charge double or more for. So it really does depend on a lot of factors. Unfortunately, I have found that sometimes more established and well-known artists think they can charge more if they are more “famous” than other artists—even if their work is a lesser quality. This should never happen, but it does. So ultimately, the client has to be informed and make smart decisions.

On average, my artwork process on a fullsize truck will take two weeks. This can change based on many factors, like the client changing his or her mind on the design, or waiting for materials to arrive.

This, however, does not include prepping the surfaces and the finish coat of clear, or repainting the vehicle if that is part of the process. There are factors that can push the project into the three- or four-week range (or beyond) if the artwork is extremely complex or difficult for me to complete.

Keep on sprayin’!

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“Mike O’Brien (aka M.O.B.) owns and operates M.O.B. Air Custom Paint and Graphics out of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and has been airbrushing for the past 15 years. He specializes in custom automotive airbrush work as well as motorcycle art and helmets. To see some examples of his work, visit or call 403/671-3226.
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