Student draws attention to her car with designs, characters

Oct. 7, 2013

April Wefler
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In a parking lot full of ordinary, everyday cars, one car sits covered in black-and-white doodles, looking like something right out of an art museum.

“Ever since I was 4, I would just grab markers and go after it. My art teachers through elementary school would always tell me I was talented and then my sophomore year in high school, I developed my own style,” said freshman Shanah “Shay” Leaf, the car owner.

Leaf said she doesn’t know how to describe her style. “Ever since then, I was able to create really unique art,” she said.

“I do a lot of pen and ink, that’s my favorite, so that’s kind of represented by the car, the black and white. I love that contrast.”

Leaf said she was inspired to draw on her car when her dad painted his. “He has a Spiderman on the roof of the car, a dinosaur on the hood and he’s got a remake of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ on his trunk, so he’s got a lot of colorful stuff,” she said.

Leaf originally had a red car, so she had to sand down the car before she could draw on it. “That was the really boring part of creating the car,” she said, adding that her dad, boyfriend and her brothers helped.

To create the car’s look, Leaf used indoor/outdoor spray paint and paint markers. “The paint has been on my car for almost a year now and it hasn’t chipped off. I haven’t had to retouch it because of the paint I used,” she said.

The project took 100 hours, from summer to November. “There were a couple of times I had to re-spray paint some of the drawings I had made because the rain had ruined it because it wasn’t dry yet,” she said.

“Sometimes, it got really tedious to draw on it. After 100 hours, you just want [the car] to be drawn,” she said.

Leaf said she didn’t plan out the car before she started drawing. “It’s a car full of doodles and [on] the hood of my car are self-portraits of me and the various things that I do,” she said.

Leaf’s car includes drawings of her athletic and performing activities. “I just kind of like to be crazy; one of the faces is a little bit crazy. I like to be spontaneous sometimes,” she said.

She said that when she drives the car, people are constantly rolling their windows down to comment. “They’ll ask me about the car or they’ll give me a thumbs-up,” she said.

Leaf said that people have posted pictures of the car on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Others have suggested that she become a tattoo artist.

“It’s something I’ve definitely considered, but at the same time, I feel like you have to have a lot of tattoos in order for people to trust you as a tattoo artist and I don’t really want to get completely tatted up,” she said.

“I’m definitely gonna get tattoos and if I do, I’m gonna design them myself, but I don’t want to be tattooed up to the neck. I feel like the really successful [tattoo artists] are,” she added.

Leaf said that people remember her because of her car, “which I’m fine with because I think it’s the best piece of art I’ve ever made.”

Leaf said she was recently in a Manitou art show, “Wunderkind,” with ten other high school students. Her first sold piece of artwork yielded $120.

She would like to be a graphic designer in the future. Since UCCS doesn’t have a graphic design program, Leaf is getting her bachelor’s in visual and performing arts and plans to get her master’s in graphic design at an art college.

“The reason I chose to go here is ’cause they had a good art program and I wanted to play ball here,” she said.

Leaf is on the women’s basketball team and has been playing since she was 7.

“I just really love the team and it’s been a little difficult balancing weights and conditioning for pre-season and finding my own free time to sit down and create some art,” she said.

Leaf said she hasn’t had time to create any art pieces lately, but she continues to doodle in her sketchbook.