Cool art decals for a car
August 5, 2013 12:35 PM   Subscribe

I just bought a car! But it's plain boring white. Help me find some cool art decals for it.

The car is a 2001 Honda Civic, much like this one, except the black horizontal line on the door is white too.

First, are vinyl wall decals okay on cars (won't damage paint)?

And the thing I'm most struggling with: what designs can I get that would specifically look good on a car?

I'd like to get something that uses the shape or function of the car as part of the artwork. For example, I've seen tentacle decals that make it look like the tentacles are coming out of all the crevices in the car (though actual tentacles aren't really my thing). Or this tree on a wall that is framing the couch. I'd like something similar - "stuff coming out of the car" or "something framing another thing," etc.

Another idea is to get something that creates an optical illusion, especially perspective or 3D. Some examples of this concept: henna hands, Pulp Fiction, 3D street art, chandelier shadow.

My ideal design would be something you might see on Threadless - cute, mysterious, whimsical, beautiful. (I'd like to stay away from anything creepy or violent.) Some designs I like from there are the hanging city, colorblind, le voyage, my jungle book, the fisherman and his boy, and fake pandas have more fun. But so far I haven't found a Threadless-type design that would look really good on a car, or is available in decal form.

So basically I have lots of ideas but haven't found an actual decal I really like yet. (Budget is $100 or less, and I'm in the U.S.) Looking for specific decal suggestions, where to get them, and where to put them on the car.
posted by danceswithlight to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I love this idea! Vinyl is safe for cars (see vinyl wrap services, which would probably over budget for you). The main risk is that they will keep your car too clean and create a shadow when you take them off. Blik has some really cool wall art sized decals (double check your sizes, but wall art generally == car art). I started picking my favorites, but there are too many awesome ones! Etsy will also have some awesome choices, but I don't have any particular vendor recommendations, and it can be difficult to sift through the chaff. Have fun!
posted by fermezporte at 1:17 PM on August 5, 2013

As fermezporte noted, any decal or magnetic attachment will shadow the paint. This might be a factor at trade-in or resale time.
posted by Cranberry at 1:55 PM on August 5, 2013

Wall-art decals are made with the intention of going onto relatively flat walls. They aren't designed to lay-down across the complex curves and folds of automobile sheet metal. Because of this, if the decal is large, it probably won't adhere properly, leaving voids, bubbles, folds and edges that don't lay down properly.

There's also the issue with whether the wall decal will stay on a car in-motion (walls at home generally don't move at 55mph) There's a good reason car vinyl is shrink-wrapped.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:35 PM on August 5, 2013

3M Wrap is designed to wrap cars. You don't have to wrap the entire car. The larger photolabs and sign printers may offer this service. You may be able to do a deal where your car is used as a demo for their service.
posted by Sophont at 5:35 PM on August 5, 2013

I have two good friends in different states with a large number of magnetic polka dots on their cars. They are ideal if you are concerned about not damaging the finish as mentioned above, because you can remove them before washing the car, then replace them in slightly different spots.
posted by Ery at 5:48 PM on August 5, 2013

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