As a life-long Husker fan, Armando Villarreal has always wanted to do Husker art. He’s gotten his chance with this work of Coach Tom Osborne on the sideline during a snow-laden Big Eight game in the mid-1980s.  (Johnson Publications photo)

Artist Armando Villarreal, left, and his son, Jax, look on as legendary Husker Coach Tom Osborne signs one of 20 limited edition, signed prints of a painting of the coach completed by Villarreal. There are also 500 limited edition canvas and paper prints of the painting now available. (Courtesy photo)

Osborne print launches Villarreal’s freelance career

    Twists and turns might best describe the career of local airbrush artist Armando Villarreal.
    His career just took another positive turn, as he sets out on his own as a freelance artist.
    The cornerstone piece serving as the foundation for his solo career features legendary Nebraska Cornhusker coach Tom Osborne.
    Villarreal’s painting depicts the coach on the sideline during a snow-laden Big Eight game in the mid 1980s.
    Over the past nine years, Villarreal has honed his airbrush talents, from painting award-winning motorcycles to major league sports figures and teams.
    During these nine years, he has made the kind of contacts needed to launch his career, including agents with the rights to a number of famous sports athletes.
    Villarreal has always loved Husker football and wants to do Husker art in the future. He doesn’t yet have licensing to produce Husker works but an agent he knew was the agent for Tom Osborne.
    That gave him his foot in the door to paint the iconic coach.
    He’s been working on the deal with the agent since October and it finally came together early this year.
    Permission from the University of Nebraska wasn’t necessary because the painting contained no Husker logos or Husker-related images—just Tom Osborne.
    The deal included 20 reproduction prints signed by Osborne and a limited edition of 250 canvas prints and 250 paper prints of the work.
    He posted a picture of the painting on his Facebook page for Armando Villarreal Studios on the evening of Jan. 23. By the next night, all 20 of the prints to be signed by Osborne were gone, at a price of $500 each.
    The 20-by30-inch print on canvas sells for $325 while the paper version sells for $125.
    All will carry a certificate of authenticity. Once those 500 prints are gone, that’s it, Villarreal said.

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