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Zio Ziegler Creates Art in Motion

By James Ambroff-Tahan

When the carpooling app Carma entered into a strategic alliance with Bay Area nonprofit City CarShare in June 2015, the Carma team began searching for a local artist who could design images that would help jumpstart the public’s use of the partnership’s fleet of electric vehicles. They quickly settled upon San Francisco’s Zio Ziegler.

Ziegler, who was born in 1988, studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University, and he is already an accomplished artist. His kaleidoscopic paintings and murals are on view in cities across Europe, Asia, and the United States. He believes in making art as accessible as possible to the public, and he has brought this philosophy to vibrant life through many murals in San Francisco. 

“While this city is booming, it’s my belief that a wonderful and balanced civilization is one that takes care of the up-and-coming generation and helps them facilitate their own dreams and contributions to society,” Ziegler says. “A society, while facilitated by technology, often seems to be guided by and remembered for its creativity.”

When Carma CMO Josh Gotthelf asked Ziegler to create six wraparound images for the 17 all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles currently in City CarShare’s fleet, Gotthelf knew that that tapping into that creativity and crafting a vibrant, inviting message for the less-than-exciting subject of transportation were as important as creating eye-catching images.

Ziegler created six designs that were translated into vinyl car decals for a fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles that are available via the Carma car-sharing application.

“My philosophy is to use passion points like art, music, and sports as a foot in the door to introduce the transportation discussion to consumers, Gotthelf explains. “And, of course, art plays a very important role in Bay Area culture. I explored several local artists and options, and Zio was my clear-cut top choice. I reached out to him cold and explained the vision, and we instantly hit it off. We agreed from the start that the goal was to create moving pieces of art, not moving billboards.”

Ziegler’s six designs bear the artistic stamp typical of many of his works, which are frequently inspired by aboriginal cultures and which sometimes evoke the spirituality of a Día de los Muertos celebration that would be recognizable in Mexico or San Francisco’s Mission District. After completing the sketches, Ziegler teamed up with Carma’s in-house designer David Kalkbrenner to turn them into vinyl decals, a task that was readily accomplished through the use of Adobe Illustrator CC. Then the finished decals were hand-wrapped around the vehicles. (SF Landmark is the sign and display-graphics shop that did the production and wrapping—you can watch a brief video about the project on the company's site.)

black-and-white line drawing by Zio Ziegler
black and white line drawing by Zio Ziegler

The car wraps started as a series of six Ziegler illustrations. (Click on the magnifying glass at the bottom right of an image to enlarge it.)

These electric cars will be available for rent in Berkeley and San Francisco, but they will be offered free of charge to qualified artists, a policy that sits nicely with Ziegler’s desire to help out fellow creatives.

“I wanted these cars to be available to anyone with a creative or altruistic vision in order to help them facilitate their projects or necessities and just make life a bit easier,” Ziegler says. “From picking up canvases to going out to shoot a photo project in Inverness, the art cars are for whatever positive use you put them to.”

image by Zio Ziegler
black and white mural by Zio Ziegler
black and white drawing of a scary creature, by Zio Ziegler