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Adam Tenenbaum



My love is design.

To create, to conceive, to execute an ever-fluctuating vision of self image, of external adornment. To find the inherent covert pathways, synapses and connections between natural and mad-made elements. So newly acquainted, unintended to meet.

Born, grazed in the commerce pastures and industry rivers of Los Angeles large, it has been my distinct privilege and honor to airbrush bodies/faces for fashion, performance, film and advertising. And above all, have the opportunity to closely work with the amazing people who surround and inspire my every creation. To live and travel deliberately within art. A product of Waldorf schooling, I have been submersed in artistic education and the glory of ‘process’-based growth and exploration my entire life.
I find inspiration in the nature cities provide. The bounty of humankind’s inventions and mechanical advancements. The byproducts, the waste we packaderms shed to grow. My hands delights in forms, trash, lace and pigmented air. For their timeless qualities, tactile presence and ability to re-create; to emulate the patterns of life, nature and renewal.

Driven by detail, the unnoticed, I feel an umbilical privilege to feed and push heavy against the limits of known make-up.

Zen Arts Project:
From Beirut (Lebanon), to San Francisco, to San Diego, to Los Angeles in 3 days….it’s amazing this shoot ever got to the camera lens. I keep telling myself time constraints are a healthy part of the creative process. And sometimes, they’re just plain unavoidable. Like taxes, death and bad cliches.

Dear Iwata faithful, my name is Adam. And this was a beautiful and intense week for me. When you have airline liquor bottles crammed deep in your pockets, your phone has a Middle East sim card embedded in it and you’re passing through customs covered in more paint than your models. Well. In my line of work…you’re in the right room. I’m the resident airbrush make-up artist for Zen Arts; an amazing, and aggressively growing crew of diverse performers based out of Los Angeles. We have spent the last couple of years traveling the world (USA included) performing for high-end clientele of every variety. From royalty to Hollywood producers. If high flying aerial acts, fire-breathing goddesses or snake-laden contortionists are needed…there’s a good change we’re in house. Preparing to showcase an incredibly memorable evening for all. On occasion, lodged nicely between a 10,000 person Middle East festival and the posh opening of a trendy San Francisco night club, we bring the whole crew together for a nice down-home photo-shoot.

Hosted by Pier 59 Studios in Santa Monica, this particular shoot was a dream job for any creative airbrush artist….but also a logistical high-wire act. 28 performers, 2 days. 8 am Saturday morning till 8pm Sunday night with a 2 am Saturday night (which is technically Sunday) performance in San Diego thrown in for good measure. I learned a new level of game face. In the end, a couple Hail Mary’s and gallons of espresso later, I think the results speak for themselves.
The scope of this project (sandwiched within such a week) was awe-inspiring and pushed me as an artist tremendously. With such a diverse skill set of performers to be painted, a multifaceted photo crew geared towards both print and web, with an HD video crew in-house documenting it all, this particular endeavor posed some intense challenges and really solidified the need for a solid team effort. And we had such in spades. First, Brion Topolski, an amazingly talented Los Angeles-based photographer, was up for the project. And brought his wealth of experience from the performance, fashion, and editorial worlds with him. Every image you see, is a result of his preparation, vision and tireless effort to cohesively galvanize a look and get it shot and edited. Our close-knit relationship and communication, was the backbone of this project. Secondly, Zen Arts, from the ground up, is an amazing organization. It has been my honor to push the level of performance based make-up on the skin of such talented people. Zen’s performers came early and stayed late to make this shoot a reality. A remarkable effort considering the week prior, the 10-hour time change, living out of a suitcase, etc. You get the picture. And thirdly, Iwata Medea. A huge thanks to you and your products. I’m not sure how much of my ramblings and clinking of the laptop keys will be edited out of this article, but I want it well known that if not for the durability, ease of use, ease of cleaning, overall quality and diversity of Iwata Airbrush products (which I employed exclusively for this shoot), I would have most certainly never reached the high standards I set forth for myself and for the complexity of the make-up required.

A little bit about my professional set-up and kit.

I use Iwata products exclusively. Not because they have ever paid me a dime, and certainly years before I came to trust and admire the company and their wonderful gear and support team. To break it down, I have three complete kits. One for America, one for Europe and one for the Middle East.
Each includes:

• Iwata compressor (220volts for UK and Middle East)
• 4 airbrush Iwata solid state manifold
• 4 large quick disconnects
• 4 Iwata braided hoses
• 4 small quick disconnects
• 8 to 12 Iwata HP-BCS bottle-fed airbrushes (I have a couple specialty guns for specific projects)

And of course forms/stencils and paint. I have large road cases. I paint large crews. If you have ever been in the smothering rain of Ireland, using festival power, down-converted to 220 by some guy wearing “Welly’s” and a flask of Jamison’s….you realize the importance of quality gear. If you’ve ever been isolated in Lisboa, Portugal, without transportation or a translator, painting backstage when you break a 1/4 male-to-male brass coupling in a land where metric is king, you immediately realize the importance of quality gear. If you’ve ever had eight of your 10 airbrushes confiscate by the Japanese airport authority on your way into Tokyo, you better damn well trust the two you have left will get the job done. These (and many more) have been my specific experiences, repeated over and over again throughout my career. Usually only the country and challenge vary slightly. Every tight spot I’ve gotten my self into, Iwata has had my back. Now, I can’t afford to use anything but their guns and compressors. Simple as that.

I am truly blessed to be situated at the forefront of such a creative industry. It’s a privilege to wake everyday surrounded by such talent, drive and creativity. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely at the beginning of your career, a peer or trying to decide whether or not airbrushing has a place in your life. I have been in all of these stages and can offer only this:

– Your most passionate dreams can become your life and full-time profession.
– Don’t buy cheap gear.

Love and gratitude.