Read all about the #ChalkBus in this wonderful write-up that was done by journalist Krista Neubert for KSL.com: "Revived Volkswagen Bus inspires impromptu art, positive messages".
Revived Volkswagen Bus inspires impromptu art, positive messages
By Krista Neubert, KSL Contributor | Posted Nov 27th, 2014 @ 8:02pm
AMERICAN FORK — While schools and other entities are increasingly turning to dry-erase markers, here is one solid reason to hang onto your chalk: The Chalk Bus. This rebuilt Volkswagen bus is becoming a community sensation, and when people happen upon it, they'll want to be ready.
Jonathan Sherman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, intended to fix up his dilapidated VW since he was first married about two decades ago. He finally got around to painting it in 2012, starting with a black primer, and he invited his daughter to test out her sidewalk chalk on it just for fun.
“It took the chalk really well, so click — the lights went on,” Sherman said. “I decided to just do the whole thing in primer or chalkboard paint and call it The Chalk Bus.”
His initial idea was to use it as a marketing tool for his private practice.
“I had to find creative ways to get the word out using guerilla marketing tactics and viral campaigns,” Sherman said, reflecting on the times during which he had no advertising budget. So he slapped his MarriageEnvy.com logo on the bus and hoped it would attract attention.
It certainly has.
“Wherever it goes, it ‘draws’ a crowd,” Sherman said with a chuckle at his pun.
He fitted the window with a small caddy full of chalk and a sticker encouraging “Draw On Me!” which, for most people, is hard to ignore.
“It’s a magnet,” said Eric Barkle, a creative director who has brainstormed ideas for the bus with Sherman.
“Instead of customizing it once with static flowers that can’t be changed,” Sherman explained, hearkening back to the Volkswagens of the 1960s, ”it now has this fun aspect that everybody gets to add to the art and it is ever-evolving, constantly changing. It’s like the Hippie Bus 2.0 or next generation.”
Of course, a chalked masterpiece won’t last forever. If roadside puddles don’t rinse it away first, the occasional car wash will. But usually not without getting photographed by Sherman who posts many of them on his website.
Now that he has finished customizing the interior as well, Sherman said, “I think it has found its identity.”
Drive-thru workers, churchgoers, neighborhood children and the like enthusiastically contribute to the overall design of The Chalk Bus when they’re fortunate enough to cross its path.
Barkle’s family spent an evening drawing on the bus to teach his children, ”You can express yourself positively and let the whole world see those positive messages because he’ll drive it around town and people will see what you’ve written and think happy thoughts," he said.
After a recent hospital visit, Sherman returned to positive messages in chalk.
“People who are coming and going are dealing with serious stuff, so there were these messages of resiliency and hope and meaning and depth,” Sherman said.
And now this simple marketing gimmick has evolved into something much greater. The real reward for Sherman is in the fun community interaction he gets with others.
While schools and other entities are increasingly turning to dry-erase markers, here is one solid reason to hang onto your chalk: The Chalk Bus. This rebuilt Volkswagen bus is becoming a community sensation, and when people happen upon it, they'll want to be ready.
“People are getting value out of the experience. That’s what it's really about,” he said. “My nature is to be happy. I like to make people happy. I mean, maybe I am really just a hippie. I don’t look like one, but ‘Peace, love and happiness, baby.’”
According to Barkle, it accurately personifies Sherman.
“I look at The Chalk Bus and what it has become…and I see Jonathan," Barkle said. "This could not have worked with anybody else. They go hand in hand.”
This will be The Chalk Bus’ third Christmas to double as Santa’s sleigh for Sherman and his daughter, Emily. They drive through Provo honking and waving before landing at Central Utah Enterprises, a developmental service, where Santa Sherman and Elf Emily hand out gifts.
“They’ll give us letters for Santa that they’ve written,” Emily said of the students there. “It’s sincere happiness and excitement,like waking up on Christmas when you’re 6 or 7 years old. That’s how happy they are."
Cristina Lawrence, Sherman’s friend, said The Chalk Bus seemed a natural fit for a unique photo setting that more genuinely reflects her family and their personalities. Dressed in boho chic style, they drove it to some silos in a field and each spent time personalizing it before taking photos:
“Now not only do we have these portraits, but we have memories of the whole experience,” she said.
People might be lucky to catch sight of The Chalk Bus while out and about in American Fork. Otherwise, look out for it at key locations like the Krishna Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork, the Chalk the Block Art Festival at the Provo Riverwoods or the Chalk Art Festival at The Gateway. People can also track what it has been up to using #ChalkBus on Instagram or find more information on MarriageEnvy.com/ChalkBus.