[Spotlight] The Sharpie Car
By: Marisa Sloan
In 2007, Miami graffiti artist Jona Cerwinske captured the world’s attention with the “Sharpie Lamborghini” — a white Lamborghini covered bumper to bumper with intricate designs drawn in Sharpie marker. The mobile work of art sparked a new trend in car design that has finally reached the streets of the Triad.
Local artist Robert Perry was willing to sacrifice his 2007 Nissan Altima, a handful of Sharpies, and a great deal of time to make his mark.
“The whole process took about six months of working. I worked just part-time in my garage, a few hours per week,” Perry said.
The result is impressive. Dozens of lines, arrows and spirals intersect with each other seamlessly, despite being drawn freehand with a permanent marker and no room for error. Areas with major filling were done using a Sharpie with an extra-wide tip for a smoother look.
“I wanted to do something so different and so new,” said Perry of his design. “I decided to really go for it and do it. And it came out really good.”
He has yet to cover his work in a protective clear coat because he worries the alcohol or lacquer thinners in most finishes will make the ink bleed. However, Perry said the Sharpie has held up well against the elements so far — neither sunshine nor summer storms have managed to do any damage yet.
While this was Perry’s first venture into car design, he’s no stranger to experimenting with different mediums in his art. Perry has also done street art, and even painted on clothing, so it’s no surprise that he eventually came to see his own car as a big, blank canvas to draw on.
And he wants to do it again. Perry has his eyes set on starting a business with his newfound skills. While he’s spoken with a few people about doing smaller Sharpie designs, his dream is to decorate an entire sports car in his original art.
The best part? Each time he takes his Sharpie car for a spin around town, he is actually driving a big advertisement — an advertisement that people just can’t help but stare at, he said. It certainly makes a trip to the grocery store a lot more fun.
Enabling more people to interact with his artwork was one of Perry’s biggest motivations for the project. In fact, most of the compliments he receives have come from his Lyft customers. Perry said his customers would commonly mistake his work for a paint job or a vehicle wrap, but that he would take their confusion as the highest compliment.
“They’ll be like ‘damn, is that a wrap?’” said Perry of the reactions he frequently receives. “Or ‘nice paint job,’ too, is one of the most common.”
While he waits for his Sharpie car business to take off, he’s at least made a reputation for himself as the Lyft driver with the coolest ride.