About Melina Wuggonig
First place winner of Fine Art Realism category
My Name is Melina Wuggonig, I have turned 21 years old now and grew up in Austria, surrounded be the beautiful alps in Carinthia. Together with my family I am still living there on our beautiful little farm with many different animals and a lot of ponies. Together with art, my horses and ponies have always been my great passion and they are still an irreplaceable part of my everyday life. I have successfully passed my final exams in 2019 and then done my graphic design diploma one year later. Back in 2020 I have first tried to turn my hobby into a career as an artist. So since almost two years now, I am working as a full-time Portrait- and Wildlife artist and graphic designer. My work is really different every day - I am completing portrait commissions with Airbrush or pencils, I am painting huge murals, designing logos and corporate identities for clients, but also I am teaching my drawing and airbrushing techniques online or live at workshops and regularly presenting my work on art shows and markets.I am looking forward to what the future holds for me and hope to soon be able to invest even more of my time into my wildlife airbrush paintings and original art.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what is your background? When did you start airbrushing and what was the learning process like for you?
My Name is Melina Wuggonig, I am now 21 years old and working as a full time artist and graphic designer. From an early age, I spent many hours observing animals closely and trying to show my perception with some pencils. I am grateful that I can combine my great passion for animals with my creative abilities. After graduating from high school and doing a degree in graphic design, I dared to turn my hobby into a job and have been living my dream ever since. Now my everyday work includes painting animal and human portrait commissions and high-quality wildlife art, as well as producing prints, exhibiting on art markets and teaching my techniques. Also I design customized logos or beautifie facades of houses with individual airbrush designs.
I first found out about the airbrush technique 5 years ago and my parents gifted me a set for beginners. It was just like with all other mediums, which I have learned to use for my work - I just kept practicing along with trial and error and watched a few other inspiring airbrush artists on YouTube to find out more about materials and for example how to clean an airbrush etc... Right from the beginning, I absolutely hated cutting stencils and working with them... Ive always preferred the freehand method. Of course it took me thousands hours of practice and many different artworks to reach the level of airbrush control and knowledge which I have today. However, working completely freehand with an airbrush is the perfect way for me, as there are just no limitations!
Meanwhile I am known for my photorealistic and extremely detailed airbrush works. Since 2021, I have been passing on my knowledge and special techniques in form of workshops or video tutorials online or on site. Ive also been a teacher at the airbrush camp 2020 in Germany.
"I am grateful that I can combine my great passion for animals with my creative abilities."
2. Can you tell us a bit more about your winning entry piece? How / why did you choose it? How long did it take, and what inspired you?
My tiger painting has a really special and personal value for me. Not only has it been my biggest and most time consuming realistic wildlife original painting so far, but also one of these rare special pieces, which has surpassed my expectations. The painting is done with 100% airbrush and all freehand on linen, size 80x80cm with Schmincke Aero Colors and my Iwata Takumi Airbrush. It took me about 80 hours to complete and I bet nobody can count the amount of single hairs which I've sprayed onto this canvas in order to achieve the maximum of depth in the tigers fur. Drawing and painting tigers is something that fascinates me a lot. I love their captivating expression, their power
but also their intense eyes. For sure I’ll be doing more tiger paintings in the near future :)
3. What does airbrushing mean to you and what drives your passion for airbrushing and creating art? Also, how do you find the ideas for your other works?
Airbrushing is by far my favorite paining technique, as there are just no limits - you can work on all materials, all sizes and achieve an incredible amount of different effects just by adjusting your choice of materials.
"I love how I can bring depth in my paintings just by playing around with transitions between sharp and blurred areas, which is easily possible with an airbrush."
I love to develop special techniques and learn to understand how I have to build up my color layers in order to achieve the result I am aiming for and I love o pass on this knowledge to other artists. There is just so much space for self development and the commissions I get are always different and new challenges. What really motivated me is, when I’ve finished a very big project and I feel like I’ve learned something for my next artwork.
I do a lot of commission works, which usually includes working with reference materials and ideas from my clients. Whenever I got to work on my original wildlife art or tutorial projects, I am developing my ideas and subjects over a few days or weeks, until I feel like the concept is working and I can start with the airbrush.
4. What are your goals / targets for airbrushing? What do you want to achieve?
My goal for the upcoming years is to keep my business going and develop new skills. I'd love to move on and focus on selling my original wildlife art, rather than doing commissions most of the time - but this idea takes time to grow. I want to meet other airbrush artists and dive even deeper into the international airbrushing scene. However, I am extremely grateful for all the achievements so far and every day I can work on different projects with my airbrush
and push my dreams further.
5. Do you specialize or prefer to work on a specific surface?
I prefer working on textured surfaces like wooden panels or stretched linen. I feel like textured surfaces can give a very natural but characteristic look to my wildlife paintings - this is what I miss when working on aluminum panels or plastic boards. However, I am working on so many different grounds every week - it never gets boring :)
6. How would you describe your style(s) in airbrushing?
Realism in artworks has always been pure fascination for me. Also when working with airbrush, my main goal is to make my subjects look realistic, natural and expressive but at the same Time I want to give them a unique and lifelike character. I love to impress people with the amount of details and depth, which I add to my paintings. It’s like a new challenge with every single new piece of art.
7. Any advice to beginners looking to start airbrushing?
Practice and Patience is so important! I spent weeks just trying to improve my airbrush control by doing thousands of freehand lines and other practice task. This stage might seem boring and frustrating, but all the practice will definitely pay off! Another thing which will help you to stay motivated when you first dive into the world of airbrushing is to probably do mixed media. I have been doing colored pencil drawings for about 3 years before and then started to combine some rough airbrush layers with some more detailed colored pencil layers on top. This way I could gradually get a feeling for the airbrush technique, but at the same time I already had some great results with these first works by helping myself with additional tools like pencils.
"I spent weeks just trying to improve my airbrush control by doing thousands of freehand lines and other practice task."