Aftermarket Artistry: Wraps that Tell a Story

October 15th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

By Chris Collier

Creativity is crucial in that it allows lasting forms of expression that run deeper than words. Life stories can be found on a tattooed forearm or a musical playlist—through droplets of ink or songs curated with care. The film industry offers a unique means of storytelling that branches beyond product specification: vinyl wraps.

In Remembrance

Johnny Scillieri of Ace Tattoo and Piercing in Glendale, Ariz., remembers smoking a cigarette and picking up his 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja on May 26, 2019. He was on his way to the funeral of his boss Mandy Rules. He had the 188 horsepower motorcycle wrapped in honor of her fight against breast cancer, a fight she sadly lost before project completion.

“Mandy and her husband Chuck helped me out of a dark place,” Scillieri says. “I was on a downward spiral—on felony probation, no license, no car, and sleeping on my mom’s couch. Mandy was my biggest advocate because Chuck had once upon a time been in a similar position.”

The tattoo artist bartered creativity with wrap artist Erika Gare to make the playing-card-laden design come to life.

“We traded work—he tattooed my sleeve, and I did his bike, so I let him put his creativity on me too,” Gare says. “Mandy passed when I was about halfway through it, and my heart dropped when I found out. I was looking forward to meeting her when I finished the bike and seeing her reaction.”

The Monument

Nearly 2,000 miles from Ace Tattoo and Piercing rests Atlanta Custom Wraps (ACW) in Woodstock, Ga. Shaquille Hodge wrapped his Dodge Charger with owner Justin Norton to honor his wife, Percilla, after she passed from meningitis in July 2018.

“I wanted to do a tribute in honor of her,” Hodge says. “In 2019, I wrapped the car in all white and black marble that signified the hurt and darkness I was going through because the colors of the car were dull and black. The marble represents her tombstone. In 2020, as I started moving forward, I decided to go with something more vibrant.”

The Charger’s design shifted with a reflective, blue marble wrap representing the sky where Hodge feels his wife resides.

“The front of the car now is the white and black marble,” Hodge says. “The rear of the car is blue and white marble. It shows and symbolizes my healing process throughout the situation. It starts with the white and black marble when I was in a dark period of my life, and it fades to the blue and white marble where I am progressing and getting better with my process.”

For Hodge, the vehicle is more than transportation. It’s a gateway to uplifting memories and thoughts that keep him pushing forward. It symbolizes his ongoing initiative— The PAMAH (Percilla Ann Marie April-Hodge) Foundation.

“I started the foundation to build awareness for meningitis because many people don’t know about meningitis, and we don’t know much about it as a people, period,” he says. “We do car shows, and I use the car to push and promote the foundation. When people see that car, they automatically think of the PAMAH Foundation.”

Hodge says the Charger will remain in his family. “I plan on passing it to my daughter. My oldest children are the ones who will be fighting over it because he wants it, and she wants it. It’s going to be a battle and a big decision to make, but I would love to pass it on to the kids one day.”

The Memorial

Life is full of moments of tribute depicting humanity’s diverse journey. Vietnam Veteran Alvin Brannon served in the war as a combat engineer. Today, he honors the 58,318 Americans who gave their lives in the war with a wrapped Dodge Charger that he dubs his ‘Mobile Vietnam Memorial.’ Empire Wraps in Wichita Falls, Texas, made it happen this year.

“The very day that I got it out of the shop, I went to a restaurant, parked it, and before I could get my dinner ordered, people were walking around, taking pictures of it and enjoying what they saw,” Brannon says. “I said, ‘This is for your enjoyment—enjoy it as much as I do.’”

For Scillieri, Hodge and Brannon, healing is found in their driveways and behind the wheel.

“Every time I drive it, I think of the memories, how I’m healing, how I’m getting better and how I know that she’s up there smiling down on me because of the things I’m doing for the community and my foundation,” Hodge says. “It feels good to know that I’m driving a big monument for my wife while I’m driving that car.”

Scillieri says, “Whenever I park my bike in front of the shop, people are like, ‘Who’s bike is that—is that this guy’s?’ No, that’s mine—it makes me smile every time.”

Brannon took his mobile memorial on a 5,000-mile cross-country road trip this summer. The wrap revealed a union built to link strangers through one point of commonality: memorial.

“The emotion is . . . It’s the people that are standing on the road, getting a good look at the car and enjoying what they see. Some come to question [and] understand what the car means to me. And then I get back what the car means to them.”

Together As One

“I saw the special needs post, and I jumped all over the opportunity,” says Robert Stanley, owner of Stanley’s Detailing in Pryor, Okla. “We wanted to help, and the [police] officers reached out personally.”

The Pryor Creek Police Department wrapped a Chevrolet Tahoe to raise autism awareness in 2020. Two officers at the local police department have children with autism. When Stanley got word, he partnered with Ceramic Pro to raise awareness about a life that’s all too familiar.

“My son doesn’t have autism,” Stanley says. “My son has epilepsy, cerebral palsy and a whole list of diagnoses. We did this because there’s not much cross-support from [one] special needs side of the world to another. When somebody’s kid is diagnosed with cancer, they get all the support in the world. But when it’s autism, Down syndrome and epilepsy, there is no support.”

Stanley protected the newly-wrapped Tahoe with Ceramic Pro paint protection film (PPF) free of charge to support the families’ fight. He hopes to raise awareness about all childhood diseases—not one or the other.

“The police chief and an officer came and picked it up and they were ecstatic,” Stanley says. “They kept thanking me for doing it, saying how appreciative they were and asked if they owed us anything. I was like, ‘No, we’re good. Thanks for doing this because there’s not a lot of special needs support out there.’”

Never Grow Up

Vinyl wraps offer an opportunity for remembrance and awareness; they also allow for passionate self-expression. Shanda McClaren has owned seven Volkswagen Beetles throughout her life. It’s a lifelong fascination that began with the movie “Herbie.”

“I’m 53 years old, and my very first movie—my favorite movie— was ‘Herbie’ when I was younger,” McClaren says. “I heard they were going to [stop] making [Beetles], so I bought a brand new limited.”

McClaren wanted to have fun and stand out. Lynx Auto Wraps & More in Centennial, Colo., made her dream a reality with a rust-bucket wrap that draws eyes wherever she drives. “I thought about painting it. I liked the [vinyl] idea because I can take it off and do something different if I get tired of it—which I don’t see myself doing.”

McClaren says the conversation starter pairs well with her unique personality. “I’ll be sitting in my office with the car in the driveway and people will walk up, touch it and shake their heads. I never go to the gas station [where] I don’t have two or three people that talk to me about it.”

Lynx Auto Wraps & More also wrapped Jay Losch’s 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport in Avery Dennison’s Roaring Thunder Vinyl Wrap in 2020. The music producer had his guitar wrapped to match.

“Music is the ultimate form of expression,” Losch says. “So is a very loud car wrap like mine— what you’re trying to do is differentiate your car from the 1000s that you drive next to every day. Vinyl wrapping is a way to do that.”

Chris Collier is the assistant editor for WINDOW FILM magazine. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.
ccollier@glass.com

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