#1. My First Art Car, a 1987 Toyota Cressida

July 2001?

My friend Beth and I think we've narrowed down the time to this date. I do remember it was the Fourth of July weekend when I started painting. Although I am perfectly old enough to have seen all the hippie cars and vans, I never saw a painted car until I saw Fishbone's in 2000, I think. It blew my hair back. I was in love.

Fishbone agreed to paint it, but he had a major procrastination problem (with which I identify). But boo hoo! I'm not an artist. I can't draw. I don't know how to hold a brush.

Then I saw a kid-sized table and chairs at Diana's house. She had painted them using sponges. Aha! I know how to handle a pair of scissors!

My friend Gordy's a signmaker and he told me all I needed to know about 1-SHOT, the lettering enamel that causes cancer in California.

Off I went, and off I still go.

I'd had the amazing opportunity to spend five weeks in Ghana, West Africa, in August of 1998. That experience pushed me over the edge into afrophilia -- a short trip -- as seen on that Cressida. Almost every drop of paint shows off an Adinkra symbol or Ashanti fabric. You can see other African influences on my things at
I can't imagine it ever leaving me.

That gye nyame on the hood is also on the hood of my 1990 Toyota Corolla. The symbol is called Except God or But God in Ghana. It was everywhere: on signs and fabrics and tile. I was told it refers to the idea that no one was around to see God create the world, and no one will be around to see the end of the world -- except God. That's from the mouths of people in Ghana. From websites comes a more concise if not more accurate version: Gye nyame represents the supremacy of God.

The design on the trunk is a stylized (of course) version of the Ghana flag.

Man, I loved that Cressida!


  1. That's a really cool car! I like the design. It's very vintage and classy. Anaheim used cars are into Toyota brands, as I have noticed when I visited my brother there last season. There were Santa Ana used car dealers who offered good deals with him, and I think he bought a black 2008 Toyota Camry 4dr Sdn I4 Auto LE for less than $18,000. Anyway, I'm looking at painting my old car to make it a little vintage. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I'm lovin' the art on that car. There's something almost... snake-like about the vehicle. The design pattern somewhat reminds one of a reptile's scales, one that's exotic and colorful.

  3. That's definitely art on that car. It must be thrilling for you to see your artistic effort sashay down the road. Art cars these days are a rare find, and you should be proud of that Cressida you designed.

  4. Display that car on the road and it will definitely be catching everyone’s attention! Cars are a great venue to express our artistic side, don’t you agree? Hehe! Now, it gave me an idea on what to do with my jammed Volkswagen Passat! =)

  5. Your car is absolutely incredible! @Nicole, you are right. It’s also a simple way to express your real personality. No one will criticize you for that and most of the time, people are amazed at how your car looks like. Come up with a design concept that you would like to see on your car, execute, then you’re free to make your statement on the road. :)

  6. Wow, that’s so cool! I would like to ride in that car. They don’t look like decals, what was the paint that you used, and did you actually use a sponge to paint your car? If you did, how? I’m so curious!

    1. Good heavens, dear Ellsworth! This is September 18, 2013, and I JUST discovered these comments!

      I use only sponges for painting (so far) and I used 1-SHOT® brand lettering enamel I get from a sign supply store. It's getting harder to procure, since vinyl is the sign-maker's choice now. Email me if you want more information: bien50@gmail.com.

      I don't even know if you'll get this response!