Rotorua artist's big America's Cup role

By Matthew Martin -
Rotorua airbrush artist Warren Houston paints the New Zealand flag onto the America's Cup catamaran
Rotorua airbrush artist Warren Houston paints the New Zealand flag onto the America's Cup catamaran

A Rotorua man has made his mark on the America's Cup after being commissioned to airbrush artworks onto the side of team New Zealand's catamaran.

Warren Houston took 122 hours over 11 days to airbrush chrome-look lettering and graphics and the New Zealand flag on both hulls of the revolutionary catamaran.

"That's pretty fast to do such a big job," he said.

Team New Zealand took to the water off San Francisco for their first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup - the challengers series for the America's Cup to see who will take on the defending champions at the end of the regatta - yesterday.

It was a proud moment for Mr Houston, but it was not his first experience with Team New Zealand. In 2011 he was asked to airbrush one of the sails for a mini-version of the catamaran.

But, in November 2012 he got the call up to airbrush the real thing.

He said Team New Zealand were going to use vinyl stickers for the graphics but issues with the edges of the stickers saw them opt for airbrushing.

"It wasn't difficult in terms of actual airbrushing and using the techniques I have used for many years, but it was hard because of a very small time frame for such a large job.

Each chrome-look "New Zealand" was 10.5m long and each flag almost 3m long.

The work was done at Cookson's Boats in the North Shore industrial area of Auckland during Christmas and New Year.

Mr Houston was assisted by another Rotorua man, Ben Malcolm, who is assistant boat builder on the team.

"I feel two emotions when I see the boat. One of immense pride and satisfaction having my work on this incredible speed machine that's representing my country at a world level, but also a feeling of 'did I really do that?'"

Now in his 60s, Mr Houston is as passionate about airbrushing as he ever was and is now branching into contemporary art.

"Perhaps the biggest buzz, besides actually being asked to do the job, was having Grant Dalton accepting my idea of using the 'illusionary chrome look' in the artwork.

"I can't say enough about the professionalism of the Team New Zealand organisation, they were hugely supportive and made my job so much easier," he said.

His work was also featured in Australian airbrushing magazine Airvolution and can be seen in issue 12, pages 19 to 31.

Mr Houston's work can be seen on his website and on his Facebook page.

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