Stand Out on the Road with Art


UDSC_1125ntil I landed the biggest commission of my career thus far, I never realised just how attached people are to their vehicles.  As I progressed through a mural on my friend’s formerly bright orange, Volkswagen van, many neighbours and commuters paused on their journeys to watch, take photographs, and talk about their own beloved wheels.


On the weekend I joined van enthusiasts at the Telford International Centre for a Camper Mart event.  I had no idea what to expect, other than that I knew the van I had painted was going to be on show.  The creativity and craftsmanship gone into the vans on show was just astounding in many cases.  The personality of the owners was stamped over the vans, ranging from a huge statement survival van to a classic Volkswagen van with a relaxed Hawaiian themed living space.  Now I can understand how people can fall in love with their vans in particular, and constantly nurture and develop their projects, vans evolving with their owners.  I was reminded of Quentin Blake’s story of ‘Mrs Armitage on Wheels’; an eccentric lady who never finishes adding improvements to her bike.

Although I still have little enthusiasm for maintenance of my own wheels (a car currently dusted with modroc on the inside, plus a rusty bike which no thief would ever bother stealing), I have relished bringing joy and pride to my friend who loves her van.

Helen and her van go on many adventures together, often taking other explorers and dare-devils with them.  Helen’s adventures and interests is the inspiration for the design of the mural.  In the brief, Helen asked that the mural would show all her favourite outdoor activities, which included mountain biking, paragliding, paddle-boarding, climbing, camping, kayaking and hiking.  I felt that one of the figures should be based on the van’s owner, and so I referred to photos of Helen dressed in her snowboarding kit, and painted her on the bonnet complete with her snowboard.  I also added skiers in the background because, well, I’m a skier and it just wouldn’t be right without skiers making moguls for the boarders to attempt to plough through.  😀


So far Helen and I have found the van’s new paint job to be a huge hit with everyone who has seen it.  We saw hundreds of photos being taken at Camper Mart, heard many wonderful comments, and all those who were shocked to find out the van would no longer be orange are impressed with the new look (phew).  We even had a note left on the windscreen!

Perhaps you will see the van out and about in exciting places, but if not, you can also keep up with it and Helen’s adventures on Helen’s Instagram page @trektradewinds.  It should be an exciting time to start following Helen; she is about to embark on a year long adventure exploring our beautiful world and practising a variety of exciting and often dangerous outdoor sports.  Personally I am looking forward to any posts involving paragliding, caving, and of course the van!

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To sum up, although I know nothing about engines, it turns out I know how to paint a mural onto a vehicle, personal to you, and I LOVE creating it.  So if you would like to make a statement on the road, between us we can make one super artwork on wheels.

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Email me for enquiries at:, and remember to SHARE or TAG FRIENDS who would be interested in having their own wheels personalised, or following Helen and her van on their travels.  I’m sure they will thank you, and so will I!

Helen’s Instagram

Sarah Miles Instagram



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