The Nose Artist

By  Mark Hrutkay

I was at the recent Mid-Atlantic Air Museum airshow in Reading, Pa and ran into Gary Velasco.  For those who don’t know him, Gary is probably the foremost nose art painter in the country.  He paints art on a lot of warbirds and there is a really simple to understand reason why…  Gary is darn good at it.

Gary was working, selling the art he paints.  He paints on metal that simulates the panels of WWII fighter aircraft.  His work is pretty darn spectacular and is something that is very different than simple framed pictures.

Mostly Gary and I got into a discussion of why the nose art that you see on current military aircraft is not up to the standards of WWII.  Gary went on to explain that back in WWII there weren’t any “graphic artists” like today.  They had “sign painters,” every base had guys that were painters and artists in their pre enlistment days that could paint.  They painted everything from signs that said to “Latrine” to the Colonel’s name on his door.   They could actually paint and in their spare time, they found themselves putting some art on the airplanes.  Those skills are rare today.   As usual, Gary was right.

Then I had to ask Gary about what was behind him.  I thought it was a B-24 that was being restored and it wasn’t.   Gary simply went out and invented 1:1 full scale nose art.  He measured a B-24J and built a perfect replica side panel, complete with rivets, window holes, etc.  Then he painted some amazing nose art on it.  The panel is big too, say about 7’ high and 14’ long and it is awesome.  Awesome is a word that is overused in the English language, however, this definitely inspires a feeling of awe and wonder.  I know what I’m asking Santa for this year.  If you see Gary, you need to look at the B-24J, it is truly awesome.   Gary can be found at www.FightingColors.Com.

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