jenny rainbow art photography

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Jenny Lewis and the Rainbow Airbrush Art of Adam Siegel

To see more of Adam’s art, check out @adamseagull on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

It’s fitting that the first airbrushed piece artist Adam Siegel (@adamseagull) made and liked was a surfboard. For him, it evokes the world of his youth — sunshiny days, good vibes and tanned girls with ocean-tangled hair.

“That’s the stuff I grew up with — ‘70s surf and skater culture. I’ve always loved that style,” Adam says, sitting in front of a coffee shop. It’s a still, sweltering day, and this artsy Los Angeles neighborhood is way too far from the beach.

With Adam’s pieces, you can at least pretend there’s a sea breeze. For the past few years, he’s been transforming vanilla high-tops, sweatshirts and surfboards into every-flavor works of art. Just ask Jenny Lewis, who asked Adam to design the sherbet-hued blazer she wore on the cover of her 2014 album The Voyager as well as the truly rad full suit she donned on tour.

Adam grew up in L.A. and played in bands ever since he and some buddies covered Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” in a sixth grade talent show. Known as REV in the crew KSN (Kings Stop at Nothing), he also was in the first wave of New York-style graffiti artists to tag L.A. One of the city’s “greatest graffiti writers,” according to Complex, he drew murals for clubs and MTV. But when he was 18, his punk band Excel took off and he drifted away from art. For the past decade, he and his wife have had a busy set and production design team, Adam & Tina, but recently, he decided to dabble in painting again.

“With this, I sorta just picked up where I left off in the late ‘80s! I was airbrushing at that point, too. I’ll come up with the graphic I want, then I’ll draw it out, put acetate over that and cut stencils to lay out with spray glue. Then I’ll do some freehand airbrushing to fill in shading,” he explains. “I was really just doing it for fun. And still am, I guess.”

He and Jenny Lewis had known each other since the early 2000s, when he was in the band The Blondes and she was in Rilo Kiley. Another mutual friend, photographer Autumn de Wilde, was shooting the album cover and thought Adam’s airbrushing would look cool on a suit.

“[Airbrushing] clothes — well, any wrinkles will be like polishing a turd. You’re always gonna have this imperfection,” he instructs. “Usually I’m just happy if it comes out and I don’t f— it up. Do it where it’s not windy.” In other words, wear his stuff to the beach, but don’t try to recreate it there.

—Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music