• Airbrush artist thrives after serving marijuana sentence

    By: JUSTIN REUTTER, Chillicothe Gazette

    Updated:
    CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) - Airbrush artist Donnie Inman, 34, has used his art to build a new life for himself after getting out of prison.

    "I've gone from growing marijuana for 10 years straight to cleaning my life up and being clean for almost nine years," he said.

    Inman went into the Ross Correctional Institution in 2010 after being sentenced for illegal cultivation of marijuana. He was sentenced to eight years behind bars.

    In 2016, he was granted early release - the first ever granted by Ross County Common Pleas Judge Michael Ater - having learned a trade doing airbrush portraits. Inman learned everything from a fellow inmate until he couldn't learn anymore.

    With his skill in airbrushing, Inman was able to quickly secure a job airbrushing motorcycles and helmets at Lynch Concepts, along with working at the Waverly McDonalds.

    Inman worked long days and nights, often working at McDonalds from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and at the body shop from 4 p.m. until midnight. "I was working 80-90 hours a week to get money for my auto body supplies and airbrush supplies," said Inman.

    However, unlike many ex-cons, Inman said he didn't have much trouble finding a job. "My skills are what got me a job at an auto body shop," said Inman.

    His story is different from many other ex-cons, as a criminal record is often a bar to employment, which in turn often leads to higher rates of recidivism, according to a 2015 study by the Manhattan Institute.

    According to 2018 statistics from the Bureau of Justice study on recidivism in the nine-year follow-up period after being released, 68 percent of released prisoners are arrested again within three years, 79 percent within six years, and 83 percent within nine years.

    Inman believes that escaping the cycle of recidivism is about individual choice.

    "It's about decisions, you have to make good decisions because the choices you make today are going to have an effect on my future 10 years from now. You can't be doing the same stuff."

    With the help of his grandmother, Donna Inman, Donnie Inman was able to start his own business, which has become his primary source of income.

    "He has always had a good character," said Donna Inman. "He's gotten mixed up with drugs, but once he got away from those, he grew a lot."

    He has a website, Donnie's Exclusive Graphics and Design.

    Inman's body of work includes t-shirts, motorcycle paint-jobs, and almost photorealistic portraits.

    He has had his work featured in several publications, including Urban Ink, Airbrush, and Whitetail magazines.

    One of the things Inman says he is most proud of is being able to give back to the community. Some of Inman's work has been sold for charities such as Autism Speaks and Make a Wish, as well as miscellaneous local benefits.

    Inman advised newly released ex-cons to go to church and get off drugs. "That's the real one-way ticket back there, a lot of them don't realize that."

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    Information from: Chillicothe Gazette, http://www.chillicothegazette.com

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