Artomotive Adventures: Painting a Pao! / ‘Vaporwave’

Sarah J Coleman
3 min readMay 1, 2023

What do you do when a car comes your way that’s not gonna make it? Well, you can paint on it!

I’ve painted a few ‘things’ — office walls, advertising hoardings, giant sunflowers, brick walls; I’ve customised speakers, radios, baseball caps, shoes — there are bound to be more I’ve forgotten — and bits of cars, but never a whole car.

The information superhighway is awash these days with cars clothed in glittering wraps, mad paint jobs and stickers, and over the years illustrators and graffiti artists have been called upon to apply their art to corporate advertising pieces in the form of a high-end vehicle parked up somewhere painfully cool and covered in someone’s skilz.

Well; this wasn’t that — this was a ‘let’s have a go’ weekend adventure while we had the car at our disposal! Our other business is parts and accessories for the iconic and rare Nissan Pao (of which we have two) and buying and breaking (‘parting-out’) dead ones, so that others may ride again. Before this one met its organ-donor fate, it got fancy.

I knew I wanted it to be a vaporware/synthwave inspired thing, as I listen to a LOT of that stuff and, being an arty teenager in the 80s I lived through all of those sounds and looks For Real — and drew them, on my pencil cases, exercise books, tapes and homework. And it tied in with another project running parallel, so an easy choice.

Against a landscape of the noisy bilge pump of (ironically ⬆️) synthesised pictures made with AI, we’ve been feeling more desire than ever to make things that are physical and real - wonky and textured, even.

And in rolls a canvas on wheels!

The car was sketched out on my iPad and painted with two boxes of Montana spray paint from GraffHQ, after a semi-thorough masking. I’m an amateur when it comes to spray paints, having only ever used them twice before (this mural at the National Centre for Children’s Books, and this wall at Bring The Paint festival in Leicester) but chucked myself in after the obligatory nervous pacing and dithering. That first stroke of the nozzle, brush or nib is always the hardest.

We had the use of the paint oven at Uncle Keith’s Paint Shop for just the weekend, so we couldn’t go as detailed as we wanted to and ended up leaving the boot uncovered, but that didn’t matter because we were about to paint it all out and start again anyway…

Watch the film here!



Sarah J Coleman

Artist + illustrator of over 800 books and owner of the same amount of pens. Enough to write you a picture AND paint you a story. /