Meet Barbie Lee Roth. She's a Jeep. A purple, pink, green, yellow, and blue Jeep, to be more specific. She looks a little like the automotive version of a Lisa Frank folder, except with Frankenstein, aliens, marijuana leaves, skulls, and an owl instead of unicorns and fluorescent dolphins. She is an ongoing crowdsourced art project:
Barbie Lee Roth belongs to Oakland resident Frank Sowokinos. He bought it using weed, instead of dollars. Back then, it was just another beat-up red automobile, but he wanted to personalize it. He got donated paint that happened to be "Barbie colors." And then he invited people to paint it while he drove more than 11,000 miles, through the Dakotas, Missouri, Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New York and Utah, doing odd jobs along the way to pay for gas, food and car insurance.
Frank carries a paint set with him most of the time. When people come up to him to inquire about his unconventional ride, he asks them to take a brush and just start painting.
"I give them a little bit of space…and I say, 'That's your palette'," he told us. The only ground rules he gives them: stay away from politics and racial affiliations. Other than that, anything goes.
"There are all sorts of people's stories on it now," he says. He gave us this art tour:
We personalize our computers with stickers, our mobile devices with covers and the kinds of apps we put on them. But our cars usually come in a standard-one-size-fits all edition. The best we have is personalized licensed plates. Frank's jeep is what happens when we take the ways we personalize our other tech and apply it to our vehicles.
We met Frank at a Bitcoin Star Wars-themed party in Palo Alto; the people at that party got their bodies painted, but the Jeep didn't go under the brush.
So where does the name Barbie Lee Roth come from? "We combined Barbie and David Lee Roth into one awesome punk compilation of awesomeness," he said.
You can follow Frank and Barbie's adventures on Instagram. Just type in #barbieleeroththejeep.
Daniela Hernandez is a senior writer at Fusion. She likes science, robots, pugs, and coffee.
"I write about the future (Associate Producer at @ThisIsFusion).
I write about the past (publisher of #OGToldMe).
Oakland, CA raised me."