For One Los Angeles Artist, Cars Are Her Canvas and Rainbows Are Her Brush
Peggy Noland has given a Toyota Corolla a pelt and slapped “buff Powerpuff Girls” on a pickup truck. Objects in mirror are as bitchin’ as they appear.
Text by Kathleen Massara
Photographs and Video by Amy Harrity
Mikki Yamashiro, a wrestler who uses the name Candy Pain professionally, moved to Los Angeles about five years ago with her 2011 silver Toyota Corolla. When she heard that Peggy Noland, an artist and designer in the area, was wrapping cars in shiny materials for her YouTube series, “Peggy’s Cartoon-Up!,” she made a decision.
“I need a Peggy Noland car,” she said in a phone interview.
Ms. Noland is known for using bright and bold colors in her artwork; as a set designer, she has created stages at Coachella, and she used to own a clothing store in Kansas City, Mo., and another one in Los Angeles, which one website described as “a trip to your local mall on LSD.” She got into modifying cars on a whim. “You don’t have to have a Lamborghini,” she said. Why not use a Honda Civic?
To wrap a car, Ms. Noland applies a thin film (usually acrylic) over the car’s paint to protect it from rust and wear. “The Reader’s Digest simplified version is, you clean the car really well and then put a giant sticker on it,” she explained about the process.
It takes roughly a week, and normally costs up to $4,500 for high-end wraps, such as Porsche’s Second Skin designs, which have traditionally appealed to a more male “gear head” demographic. But Ms. Noland is a fan of D.I.Y. art projects, and many of her initial customers were friends with budget cars who paid a few hundred dollars or less for the materials.
After an initial meeting, Ms. Yamashiro thought that the artist would put a metallic wrap on her Corolla, but instead, Ms. Noland covered it in bright yellow faux fur, with “Candy Pain” written across the side in crimson letters. Passers-by will ask, “Do you sell candy?” or “Are you a dominatrix?” Ms. Yamashiro said.
The car has been a magnet for all types. “Even tough guys in giant trucks are giving me the thumbs up. I really don’t see people who are too cool for it,” Ms. Yamashiro said.
But the weather can be an issue. “It’s fine getting wet; I’m more concerned with splashing in puddles and it getting muddy and dirty,” she said. “I mostly brush it, and that’s it.” At night and on the odd day when it rains, she parks it in her garage.
Christine Stormberg, an artist and wrestler who interned for Ms. Noland as a college student in Kansas City, decided to bring in her white 2000 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck for a paint job. “I have always known in my heart that I would have a broad collection of painted trucks,” she said. After an initial consultation, Ms. Noland put some “buff Powerpuff Girls” on Ms. Stormberg’s truck, along with other surprise decals.
“She had picked all of my favorite brands, like Dr Pepper, Home Depot, Diva Cup …” Ms. Stormberg said. “I drive around the city and people ask, ‘Do they sponsor you?’ and I’m like ‘yeah, I’m a racer.’”
Tashi Condelee’s 2008 Honda “got recalled for the paint job,” she said in a phone interview, explaining that she also had to get the hood fixed after a fender bender. “So my car looked kind of crappy.” She knew Ms. Noland, a friend, was learning to wrap cars in vinyl, but she wasn’t ready to drive around in something as recognizable as some of Noland’s Technicolor creations.
“I don’t want people to remember my car,” Ms. Condelee said. “I wanted a cool car but not a car that could be traced back to my house, because people are crazy.”
Ms. Noland learned how to wrap cars by watching hours of YouTube videos. She uses basic tools for her creations: X-ACTO knives to cut around door handles and roller brushes for larger paint jobs. “I’m still learning, so I definitely don’t want to mess up anyone’s investment,” she said. “For many of these people, it’s the most expensive thing they own.”
“Especially in L.A., people are in their cars all day, and it’s joyless,” she added. With her wraps, “they had permission to be a little absurd.”
Ms. Condelee decided to give it a try after watching Ms. Noland’s YouTube show. “I wanted my car done, but I didn’t want it to be outrageous,” she said. “Peggy is extreme, she’s furs and hearts and big stuff.”
Ms. Noland ended up wrapping the car in a silvery rainbow acrylic. “The bumper is offset, and on the side the paint was already a little warped before she put the vinyl on, so there’s a little wavy spot, but I don’t care,” Ms. Condelee said about the results. “Teenagers think it’s cool.”
The cars are usually a few years old, so there are some issues that persist even after Ms. Noland is done with them. “Some of the vinyl is flapadoodling on one side,” Ms. Condelee explained, “but I just need to cut it. As Peggy said, ‘Life happens.’”
Van Jazmin, an artist who was working as a day laborer in construction, took his slightly rusted gray minivan to Ms. Noland, who was looking for volunteers. “I was preparing myself for a negative experience,” he said, since he had no idea what his minivan would look like in the end. But when he got it back, he appreciated the shiny, sculptural results of Ms. Noland’s Wrinklewrap treatment. “At a certain time of day the color changes and it was beaming rainbows,” he said. “I would drive my van to the job site, and the foreman and workers were giving me all these props.”
He even put a unicorn horn on the antennae. “When it broke down and I decided to sell it, the tow-truck driver who came to pick it up told me he had seen it before. It was famous.”
Mary Ann Heagerty, who works at a production company, went to Ms. Noland with her green Toyota Highlander. She got back a pink, pastel ombré ride, which people took photos of at stop lights. “Unsolicited, I would get offers to buy my car, which is crazy, because one side of it is fully dented,” Ms. Heagerty said.
“I never thought I would be someone who had a flashy car, but when I had one, it was like, why would I ever have a boring car?”
Amy Harrity is a Los Angeles-based photographer. She drives a yet-to-be-wrapped Honda Civic.
Surfacing is a weekly column that explores the intersection of art and life. It is produced by Jolie Ruben and Josephine Sedgwick.