Art cars. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re pretty much what they sound like: moveable art, built around a car. They started cropping up around the 1960s during the hippy generation (think flower-festooned VW bugs and vans) and their modified appearances—some with minor, others with major enhancements—were the ultimate in personal artistic expression. Cars are a big investment, so for most of us it’s hard to think about doing something to drastically change their look. What if it all goes horribly wrong? But to the good folks at Insomniac—producers of the Electric Daisy Carnival—art cars are another reflection of the company’s philosophy: Encourage people to not just hear and see music and art, but to be a part of it.
“[Art cars] help bring like-minded people together who can let out their artistic side and express their individuality,” says Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac’s founder and CEO. EDC’s support of art culture follows in the tracks of the culture that prospers around Burning Man: “Burning Man drew in and inspired the Insomniac family to build our own toys.” Today, Rotella says, the collection helps Insomniac “entertain headliners at our festivals, express our creativity and have a blast.” While some enthusiasts actually drive art cars every day, Insomniac rolls out its art cars only on special occasions. That’s an extra dose of showmanship, adding to the sense of event: Each appearance is an unveiling of the odd and unexpected.
“There are no rules to making an art car,” Rotella says. “It depends what your vision is. Do you want to keep it street-legal as a daily driver, or is it a mobile disco club that needs to host a crowd? [Do you] paint a mural on your new Porsche or go big and completely transform a big rig? You can get artistic with vehicles of all years and sizes.” Across these pages are some of Insomniac’s innovative designs, all of which will be on display at EDC. So strap on your metaphorical seatbelt and take a look at what you can do with a few tons of metal and steel and a biblical imagination.
Inspired by the Ween song about rebirth, “Push th’ Little Daisies,” Insomniac’s float-style art car is a daisy bouquet that travels throughout the festival with female performers in character as flowers. A large puppet-style bee follows the car to “pollinate” the flowers. On average, it takes six months to build a car the size of Pushing Daisies; in this case, Avo and Soltes Manufacturing got it done in four weeks.
Inspired by Rotella’s love of Disneyland, this whimsical car hints at an 18th century-style carriage and was built with input from Rotella, Insomniac’s production and art coordinator Ian Oosthuizen, and designer David Shields.
The Insomniac team bought Rockbox in April from Mark Wunder in a move fueled by Rotella’s interest in hip-hop. It’s a vibe that’s well represented in this car.