As far as vinyl wraps for cars go, we’re told the options are endless. Protective, pearlescent, matt, chrome, or just a different colour to suit your mood. But what about wrapping a car in an artwork?
Each year since 2017, the DESIGN Canberra arts festival has held just such a competition.
University students across the capital are given the silhouette of a car by Canberra BMW and told to get their pens out and colour it in. A judging panel of art experts from several local institutions name a winner.
This year’s theme was ‘Transformation’ and the gong went to University of Canberra (UC) student Maria Grainger, for her work Into the Light, meticulously wrapped around a new BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe.
“To be honest, I’m still a bit stunned, but I’m really grateful to have won,” she says.
Maria is a member of Craft ACT, the non-profit organisation behind DESIGN Canberra, and seeing as she’s undertaking a double degree in interior architecture and visual communication, she leapt for it.
She turned to the Golden Sun Moth for inspiration, an endangered moth species native to the region and set apart by black and white wings and golden yellow hindwings.
“It’s undergoing its own transformation and rejuvenation – from an endangered species to hopefully thriving in the future through improved habitat management and rehabilitation,” she says.
The front of the car is dark grey, with the moth seen emerging from a field of coloured shards about halfway down the side, as the background morphs into a more welcoming yellow rear.
“The design presents an optimistic future state in which our locked-down society of separated individuals transforms into a post-pandemic cohesive community,” Maria explains.
“I hope that it’s a positive message which makes people happy and hopeful when they see the car.”
Maria left her long-term career in the public service two years ago for “something completely different and creative”.
“While I feel very lucky and privileged to have this opportunity to start over, it can also be quite scary,” she says.
“Before I started this degree, I hadn’t picked up a pencil for over 20 years, and putting yourself out there by sharing your designs with others can be quite daunting.”
She says winning the competition has given her the confidence she’s on the right track. But it wasn’t without its challenges. After all, a car isn’t exactly a blank canvas. She had to complement the existing curves and lines of the BMW, while also making something that could be easily wrapped.
“I also employed some of the skills I’ve learnt in my architecture studies, about designing in three dimensions and considering how people will experience the design in different ways, depending on their viewing position and whether the car is stationary or moving,” she says.
“Overall, the process was challenging, a lot of fun and a great learning experience!”
Once the winner was confirmed, ROJO Signage in Phillip were tasked with painstakingly applying the wrap to every panel of the four-door BMW. The finished work was revealed at an event at the National Gallery of Australia.
Maria is now doubling down on her last two years of study, while also experimenting with her new-found love for drawing. But she still isn’t quite sure where the win will take her.
“I strongly believe that design significantly impacts how we feel, function and relate to each other. Good design should be beautiful but also sustainable, practical and accessible to all. I want to create designs which embody all of these principles.”
Check out Maria Grainger’s other artwork on her Instagram page.