T-shirts are the canvas at Airbrush Underground

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By Jack Pasi

Hampton Union, August 18, 2015

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Ray Mcintyre is the owner of Airbrush Underground
Ray Mcintyre is the owner of Airbrush Underground,
which makes memorable custom Hampton Beach attire

HAMPTON — Airbrush Underground offers a novel type of souvenir for beachgoers — allowing customers to create custom, one-of-a-kind T-shirts.

Ray Mcintyre, owner and artist of Airbush Underground, has been in business at Hampton Beach for 25 summers now. Mcintyre prides himself on having “the best T-shirt shop” on the boardwalk.

“We don’t have the stuff that everybody else sells in every other shop with the same T-shirts and the same designs and the same transfers,” Mcintyre said. “I go out of my way to make sure that we have stuff that those people don’t have — so then I don’t blend in. My shops are too small — I can’t compete with them and their pricing. I don’t need the stuff that they have.”

He also owns Beach Bums, located on the north side of Playland Arcade, which sells classic commemorative Hampton Beach attire.

“The artists here do the design work for a lot of the shirts at Beach Bums; you’re still getting local artists designs and artwork at Beach Bums, too,” Mcintyre said.

Designs typically run around $20 to $25, according to Mcintyre. The more intricate the design, the more expensive it will be.

“We cater to people’s schedule,” Mcintyre said. “It’s first come, first serve. If you’re leaving today or leaving in an hour, we try to accommodate for those schedules.”

Customers often will arrange a pickup time to get their design in a few hours or so, according to Mcintyre.

“Hampton Beach designs are very popular,” Mcintyre said. “Beach scenes with name drops of Hampton Beach in their own personalized writing, anything with like warm fluorescent colors and palm trees. They can get whatever they want, they can customize the designs, change the colors, build their own custom shirt. We put them through the process and help them with creating their own shirt with their own ideas.”

Between the two stores, Mcintyre has six employees; four of them artists. Combined, the artists have more than 60 years of experience.

Airbrush Underground operates at the rate of demand, doing up to 100 shirts a day, according to Mcintyre.

“It’s kind of like a factory, you’re involved in an artist’s studio and you’re involved in the production part, usually you don’t see that,” Mcintyre explains. “Normally, you would just see the finished product and not be involved in the creative process.”

For some, having people come in and out of your workspace can be distracting, but Mcintyre maintains focus when he needs to get designs done.

“Sometimes I don’t even know there are people in the store because I’m in the factory and I got to get this stuff done no matter who’s watching,” Mcintyre said. “I have a very strong sales staff, who are very educated and capable. It lets me breathe in the booth as a business owner and a full-time painter.”

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