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Airbrushing makes a comeback — on camp gear

Posted on | June 24, 2012 | Comments Off

airbrush reviewsMore than a dozen kids on a recent Thursday afternoon handed T-shirts, tanks, and pajama bottoms to airbrush artist Paul Madonna.

His job: to tag their gear with graffiti.

“Look at that,” said Ellie Stamps, 9, as she watched Madonna spray-paint E-L-L-I-E in bold, rainbow-hued bubble letters on a tank top at Lafayette Hill’s Down to Earth Kids. “When he uses the white, it looks like the letters are reflecting light. It’s so cool. Nobody will have one just like this.”

Later this week, Ellie will pack the airbrushed shirt, a pair of shorts and sweatpants, along with the rest of her gear, and ship it to Lake Bryn Mawr Camp in Honesdale, north of Scranton.

Graffiti — once considered the art of choice for only inner-city structures, rap CDs, and boardwalk T-shirt shops — is now a must-have when it comes to suburban, overnight-camp-bound tween fashion. The colorful art is jazzing up hoodies, sweatpants, pajamas, blankets, even the trunks the campers pack their clothes in.

Kids are into the old-school-style fat letters so much that suburban boutiques have set up airbrush stations in their stores for the young customers — and their parents. Madonna has seen his business double in the three years he’s been working with local children’s boutiques during camp season.

“Customization, it’s all about customization,” said Andrea Taitelman, co-owner of B’tween Friendz, a children’s boutique in Dresher, Montgomery County. Taitelman and her partner, Christin Goldstein, opened their store in the fall with a 10-by-15-foot graffiti bar at its center. “It has to do with kids’ expressing themselves. They really like putting a little bit of themselves into the design.”

The trend, says Down to Earth Kids owner Pam Katz, started about three years ago, growing each year. She started hosting graffiti parties in March so her chic campers could get their items personalized on the spot. Airbrushing makes up more than 40 percent of her camp business — which includes Color War memorabilia, friendship bracelets, and return-address labels — with prices ranging from $45 to about $75, depending on the piece of clothing and the size and detail of the design.

The bubble letters are back for a few reasons — we’re embracing 1980s fashions, especially all things neon, bold, and bright. Tweens also are into DIY fashion, said Caletha Crawford, a New York City-based children’s-apparel consultant.

by Elizabeth Wellington

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