Dirty Car Art

How messing around with dirty car windows became Scott Wade's art

Scott Wade, Dirty Car Art, Maker Faire Austin, 2007 (photo by Scott Beale)

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Dirty Car Art

I first saw Scott Wade drawing Hollywood monsters in dust on a car window at Maker Faire Austin in 2007 and wrote a profile of Dirty Car Art in a Made on Earth in Volume 14, page 23 (online here). Back then, Scott explained: “After 20 years of living on a dirt road, I always had dirt on my car.” Dirt became his medium. I reached out to Scott recently and talked to him about his nearly twenty years of Dirty Car Art.

With a degree in Commercial Art from Texas State, Scott worked as a graphic artist and teacher. He said he was looking at the dirt on his car window one day, while eating a popsicle. He began drawing with his finger, then used the popsicle stick as an implement to move dirt around. Soon he went inside to grab some brushes and he said: “I just started messing around.” He realized he could draw almost anything that could drawn with charcoal on paper.

He did a Mona Lisa out of dirt because he “wanted to do something that screamed art.” There was a problem, however. The Mona Lisa is oriented in portrait mode and the car window of a Mini Cooper he was painting was oriented in landscape mode. He solved the problem by tilting the portrait and filling in the background with Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night.

Mona Lisa and Starry Starry Night by Scott Wade (Photo by Scott Wade.)

Since those early years, Dirty Car Art has been a side gig for Scott. done a lot of corporate gigs, often involving auto companies. He has travelled throughout the US and to cities such as Lisbon and Istanbul. “My craziest work was a campaign for MINI.” He painted three sides of a 3600 sq. ft. box truck and travelled with the truck to four cities over 11 days. “I averaged two hours of sleep a night,” he recalls.

MINI project (photo by Scott Wade)

Detail from MINI project (photo by Scott Wade)

When he travels, he often brings his own dirt. It’s pyrolite, a very fine dust that Scott says is often used in film industry to make things look dusty. He doesn’t use any kind of spray to fix the dust.

Scott himself and his art were featured in this 2011 music video from Grupo Fantasma, Montañozo. It’s kind of an absurd narrative but I can’t help but want to watch it over and over to see Scott at work.

His appearances stopped during Covid but he sees interest slowly ramping up. “I do portraits all the time,” he says. He’s done a couple of weddings, painting the couple on the back window. Once he did 3 images a day for 10 days at the LA Auto show. Below is a Dirty Car Art piece at a car show in January of this year.

Dirty Car Art at a show in January (photo by Scott Wade)

Starting with a simple idea and perfecting it over time, Scott does something that’s different and delightful. “It’s been real good for me,” he said, grateful to have found something that he made his own. and took him to places he’d never seen.

Find out more about Scott Wade and Dirty Car Art on his Facebook page.

School Maker Faire in Spain

Last April 20th, El Altillo International School was the epicenter of creativity and innovation with the celebration of its Third School Maker Faire. According to its organizers, the event has been an incredible experience of learning and fun for students, families, collaborating companies and the general public. Here’s a video recap of their event (in Spanish).

Aína González de la Peña, Marketing Manager at El Altillo International School wrote us about the event:

Jerez de la Frontera, April 2024.
It was a vibrant day, in which the school community and families from other schools shared the experience of the exciting world of the Maker movement. From ingenious student projects to fascinating demonstrations of cutting-edge technology thanks to collaborating companies such as Alisys, Cepsa, Bodegas Luis Pérez and Más Sol Energía, the School Maker Faire was an explosion of talent and originality, in which attendees enjoyed a day full of fun shared by children and adults who discovered, interacted, experimented and created together.

This year's edition also had the privilege of having Arduino Education with Tibot, a company specializing in educational robotics and one of the main sponsors of the fair. El Altillo International School confirms: "We are happy to have been able to bring such an inspiring event to Jerez, helping to position our city as a benchmark in the Maker world. But we will not stop here, we will continue working tirelessly to offer exceptional educational experiences to our students and to all those who wish to join this exciting movement".

We are happy to spread this wonderful movement throughout our educational community, building a better world together.

— Aína González de la Peña Delgado

A Visit to Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

It’s that time of year for design students and engineering students and many others to showcase their projects at the end of the school year. Recently, I visited the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation at UC Berkeley where one class of master’s students were showing off their designs around food. 

Sabrina Merlo, who used to work on Maker Faire with me, now works at Jacobs and sent me an invite. It was good to see her and the students’ work.  The Jacobs Institute has three or four floors and their makerspace is spread across two floors. These student presentations were on the top floor of the building.

Time Hue

Developers of Time Hue

All of us put things in the refrigerator and we lose track of how long they’ve been there. he four students behind Time Hue explored a possible solution. They designed new lids for food containers and a set of plug-in modules that fit on top. There are a set of modules for different types of food, each with a distinctive shape and a different density of small holes. Inside the modules are orange silicone beads that change color as they absorb moisture from the food.  The sllicon beads eventually change color to green.

Time Hue poster

I wondered if the students used the makerspace for their project. They told me that they used the makerspace to create molds and then used the laser cutter to put the holes in them. The students put this whole project together in two weeks.

My wife Nancy went with me and she asked me afterwards if these students were makers.  I said that they might think of themselves as designers but in order to make prototypes, they had to become makers. It made me reflect that 10 or 15 years ago, these students would have expressed their ideas with pencil sketches or graphics Powerpoint slides.  Now they can real, functional prototypes because of the tools and techniques that the maker movement has introduced.

As much as I’m glad to see the work of graduate students at a state-of-the-art facility, I feel it is important to see this kind of design work happening at the high school and even middle school level — to develop and prototype real projects using the tools and techniques of a makerspace, bringing even more ideas to life.

Makers of Makerspaces Recap

I enjoyed our conversation on Tuesday with eight makerspace leaders. If you missed it live, below is a link to the recording. Running a community or school makerspace is hard work but rewarding. It’s clear that these folks are dedicated to what they are doing and it was great to learn from them.

I’d love to hear from you if you have ideas, projects or news items about the maker community. Email me - [email protected].