Impact Arts Company at Maker Faire Rochester 2019

By Sophia Rosman

On November 22-23 of 2019, I led an educational airbrushing booth at the sixth annual Maker Faire Rochester. Held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center, the two-day event consisted of over 200 demonstrations and activities celebrating art, technology, engineering, and more. Our team from U of R had a great time engaging with students in a setting filled with innovation!

Sophia Rosman working her booth during the Maker Faire

Sophia running her booth during the Maker Faire. Photo courtesy of Nathan Nguyen.

The first day, Friday, was called “Student STEAM Fest.” Over 2,000 students in 3rd-8th grade classes visited the Faire for STEAM fest. When the Faire opened to the public on Saturday, close to 5,000 guests attended. On Friday, our booth was flooded with students excited to try airbrushing and learn about optical illusions. On Saturday, many guests who visited our booth had seen airbrushing on baking and automotive TV shows, and they were curious about its other applications. They were excited to learn more about the history and culture surrounding airbrush, the technical components of the tool, and the way it relates to the optical illusions we displayed in the booth. Most of all, they were eager to try painting with the tool they’d rarely seen in real life.

A group of students watch Sophia do an airbrush demonstration

Students were fascinated by a demonstration before they tried airbrushing!

The Maker Faire was exciting for me because I collaborated with University of Rochester students from other disciplines as I shared my unique passion with a large audience. On Friday, we incorporated an optical illusion activity into the airbrushing lessons. To prepare for this, I worked with U of R Brain and Cognitive Science students and Psychology students. They helped me learn about the interdisciplinary theories that correspond with trompe l’oeil and other techniques artists employ. During the Faire, we answered questions about these theories in addition to questions about the science, arts, business, and technical components of airbrushing.

On Saturday, in addition to presenting airbrush demonstrations, we sold custom airbrushed merchandise and bodypaintings. We also raffled off a free custom airbrushed shirt and collected email addresses for the monthly Impact Arts Company e-newsletter. My hope is that guests who interacted with the booth will book us to airbrush and bodypaint at future events. I am happy to have been part of such an engaging educational event that also exposed the community to what I offer for events and custom orders.

The collaborative work behind the scenes is what enabled this booth to happen. I learned about the Maker Faire from a U of R e5 student who hosted a Maker Faire booth last year. She led another booth at the event this year, and she was an amazing resource for anything from the application process to day-of-event logistics. The other U of R students who helped out in the booth were by my side from the 6:30am setup through the 5:00pm load out. The team designed the beautiful booth setup, carried heaps of equipment, captured beautiful moments on camera, constantly entertained the crowd, and – perhaps most importantly – they befriended many other makers.

Sophia's Maker Faire booth

Photo of the Impact Arts Company booth courtesy of Nathan Nguyen.

Impact Arts Company- an e5 Project

When I was accepted into the e5 program, I had already been running a small face painting, body painting, and airbrushing business for over 5 years. I primarily work with clients who pay an hourly rate for me to face paint, body paint, or airbrush at private or corporate events. Juggling has taken me to the White House, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and on trips across the US and internationally. When the e5 project led me to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., my bodypaintings were even printed in a magazine.

This is one of the custom shirts I airbrushed live at Maker Faire Rochester.

One of the custom shirts Sophia airbrushed live at Maker Faire Rochester.

Through e5, I was able to take more business classes and access advisors who helped me discover different paths in this entrepreneurial journey. e5 coursework and conversations have reshaped the way I consider my impact on the environment, the people I work with, and society as a whole. I was particularly excited to be part of the Maker Faire so that I could join conversations with Rochester’s young makers about the realities of entrepreneurship and the impact of interdisciplinary arts. I hope that when they left our Maker Faire conversations, the students were inspired and excited for their futures!

Sophia Rosman ’19, ’20 (e5) is an E5 student at the University of Rochester. Her majors are Philosophy and Art History, and her minor is Business. You can find out more about Impact Arts Company by visiting