StrangerĀ Things Eleven – Skateboard artwork: by Steven Portelli

Meeting Milly was super exciting. She is a very fun person.

This article introduces Steven Portelli. Steven is a long time student, that is about to become an Airbrush Venturi teacher. Steven is going to be a wonderful teacher, and we are proud to have him join our teaching team.

I will let Steven tell the story about this artwork . . .

It all began when my mate Shannon, from work, excitingly came up to me, informing me that Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things (a Netflix TV Show) was going to be at Supanova.

For those of you that don’t know, Supernova is a huge public event, where thousands of fans of fantasy movies and cartoons come together, and get to meet the people that made the shows, or appeared in them. Its an event that I love going to, as I get the chance to catch up with a lot of my art mates from Artist Alley.

Being a big fan of the show and a lover of pop culture I couldn’t resist not going and meeting her. As a result I wanted to do something cool that I could take, to get her to sign it. I had some blank skateboard decks at home so I decided to do my artwork on that. I thought it would be something different, than just doing an artwork on canvas or paper.

Instead of projecting the image from a digital projector, I printed the images off, actual size and then transferred the line drawing using Saral Paper. This is a non oil or waxed based transfer paper (chalk based). Two A4 sheets, end to end, fit perfectly on a skate deck.

In order to come up with a unique design for my artwork I used a few different photos from Google and Pinterest that I felt would work well together. I then transferred the images into Photoshop where I came up with a montage design and a layout for the skateboard.

I wanted the design to have the feeling of how the two worlds are played out in the show. Hence why the top half of the deck which represents Eleven in the real world is painted in colour, and is very much warm red tones – and the bottom half is painted in a monotone blue representing the upside down world.

The artwork is not supposed to be photorealist. I purposely stylised the artwork, to make it look more like an illustration . . . like their promotional posters that use a pencil sketch style. This gives it a more 1970’s vibe.

In order to prep the skateboard so I could paint on it, I had to sand it down to get rid of the varnish that was already on the skateboard and then apply a primer to the skateboard. This would give the paints something to adhere to.  Once the primer was dried I then transferred my layout to the skateboard using Saral Paper.

Mixing and labeling all the colours that I was going to use for the artwork before-hand really helped whilst painting the artwork. Planning your colours properly means you never feel that you have a colour missing. I was using a combination of liquid mixing and surface mixing techniques to get the right hue and tonality to my artwork. The paints I used were manufactured by Airbrush Supply Network (ASN) waterbased T’s and O’s.

This is still Milly Bobby Brown from season 1. I used an Inverse Rendering package for this artwork. The “Tonal Blue” is mixed from Purple and Green – as per the Venturi System – Unit 4 training. The results of this mix were much better than actually mixing a tonal blue with black and blue.

I have done a number of artworks similar to this where I have taken them to a pop culture event and got them signed. However this was the first time that I airbrushed on a skateboard deck and combined a colour and monotone artwork in the same piece.

I really love how the skateboard came out and how I was able to capture the feeling of the two worlds within the artwork. Plus now that it is signed by Millie Bobby Brown I like it even more.

There is a funny story however of me getting my skateboard deck signed on that day that I would like to share . . .

Behind her is a Demogorgon, an evil monster / villian from the Dungeons and Dragon role playing game. This had to be a part of the artwork, as it adds to the atmosphere of the upside down world of Stranger Things.

Whilst I was waiting in line to get the skateboard deck signed with my friend Shannon and his family, apparently Millie Bobby Brown and her management team knew I was going to be there. They had seen my earlier Instagram post of the skateboard and saying I was going to Supanova to meet and get it signed by Millie Bobby Brown today.

So as a result the crew decided to play a little prank on me. As I approached and put the skateboard on the table to get it signed, Millie looked at me with a straight apologetic face saying that she was very sorry but she can not sign my skateboard. When I heard this I was in shock. My heart sank. I was thinking to myself all that hard work and long hours putting into this artwork and she won’t sign it for me. A second passed, my mouth still opened in disbelief, I could see out of the corner of my eye Millie’s management team started laughing . . . and then Millie started smiling saying “I’m so sorry they made me do it!”

So yeh, I just got pranked by Millie Bobby Brown. lol

There is NO black on here. This is the Neutral Grey made from Red, Yellow and Blue. I think the colour processes from the Venturi System really help to give my artworks more life. I added a light glow behind the Demogorgon.

The feedback of the artwork has been fantastic, everyone who has seen it have all loved the way it turned out. Whilst I was waiting in line I had a lot of people coming up to me asking if I painted that and how great it looks. I even had one of the Supanova media teams take a photo of it to put on their page. 

I’m really enjoying doing artworks on skateboards, so I’m planning to do more pop culture artworks on them. Comic con is not too far away so I will see who will be coming down for that and possibly do another artwork to get it signed. Please Hugh Jackman if your reading this, come down to Comic con in Melbourne on July – I want to do a Wolverine skateboard deck!!

I love the smooth progression of the colours through the artwork . . . starting with Yellow, blending to Orange, then to Red, then Purple and finally Blue.

You ask “What got me interested in airbrushing at the very start?” Initially it was going and watching Hot Rod shows with my dad. I use to watch a show called American Hot Rod and American Chopper. Both of these shows had artists airbrushing cars and bikes. I thought this was really cool and my dad and I both agreed this is something that I could be good at. I have always loved art and had an artist background before I began learning to airbrush. The one thing that made me fall in love with airbrushing is the diversity in what you can do with the tool, not only the effects you can achieve with an airbrush but also the surfaces you can paint on.

It is 6 years later, and I am still airbrushing and loving it. I always enjoy learning new techniques and increasing my airbrushing knowledge, and becoming an AV teacher is going to take my own airbrushing to a higher level again.

Thank you Steve, for sending me all the photos and information about this artwork.

If you know anyone that lives on the west side of Melbourne and would be interested to learn to airbrush, Steve will be starting his course in Altona next term. This is only weeks away – so please spread the word. Every word of mouth referral is important.

If you would like more information about the Altona course, or any other Airbrush Venturi course across Australia or New Zealand, you can contact us by . . .

Phone 1300-247-278 . . . or the website HERE, or by email HERE.
The enrolment form is HERE.

Written by Tony Vowles