Introducing… The Amazing Pen Guy!</h2
Interview with Costas Schuler
A few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend of mine in Santa Rosa, California, which is right in the heart of Sonoma County. She needed to run some errands for her daughter that day and asked if I would mind tagging along, which I didn’t. While driving the rainy back roads around Sebastopol that day, we happened upon a car which seemed to be adorned with something on it. It was art on wheels. In California, you tend to see a lot of unusual things, more so than in the Midwest where I’m from. I asked my friend to speed up so I could make out what was on the car. She did. Amazingly, it was covered in pens! What was even more amazing was that the car was going to the same school we were! While it was parked there, I was able to get a few close-up shots of the Mercedes Benz that was covered in pens. Seeing the car gave both my friend and me big smiles on the extraordinarily rainy day.
After returning home, I did a little research on the Pen Guy, a.k.a. Costas Schuler. It was easy to find him as he has a blog. He calls his car the Mercedes Pens Art Car, which is an apt title. I contacted him to ask him questions about his distinctive car and his mission.
Costas has been quite the world traveler. His English father and Greek mother met in Australia, traveled across Asia by land from Hong Kong on their three-month honeymoon and ended up with Athens, where Costas was born. The family moved to Cambridge, England for a year when Costas was in sixth grade, then to Qatar for almost a year, and back to England. The family settled in Sunnyvale, California in 1985. Costas (36) and his wife met in San Jose and now live in Sonoma County. They are raising three beautiful daughters, ages 10, 8, and three months.
The Pen Guy has a “day” job, and that’s as a graphic designer. In fact, Schuler went to college with that in mind, but dropped out and started working in his field. I asked Costas what got him into recycling pens. Costas says that since he loves to write and draw, he uses quite a few pens in his line of work. Pens are an easy throw-away item and everyone is familiar with them, so it’s possible to find a lot of them everywhere. He had zero budget for decorating the Mercedes, so voila! An idea was born out of recycling and necessity.
For the outside of the car, Costas uses silicone glue to apply the pens. As he puts it, “I get a bunch (of pens), glue a bunch. The simple goal was to cover the car.” He incorporated some design for accommodating the curved or otherwise oddly shaped areas of the exterior. As the pens are damaged by weather or are broken for other reasons, he replaces them with more pens. The inside of the car is painted in acrylic paint, and that area is embellished with nicer pens. The pens on the dashboard are fastened with Velcro so that they can be easily removed for his children to play with. Since the interior of the car is quite hot in the summer heat, Costas must be able to efficiently redecorate the dashboard, so Velcro comes in handy.
I asked Costas if he was interested in using other recycled products in the future, and his reply was an enthusiastic no. “Just pens, pens and more pens!” He has so far completed a birdhouse, a hard hat, mail box and Christmas ornaments, and hopes to branch out into other applications, to include paintings, sculpture, furniture, jewelry and other items.
“The Pen Guy” is also available as a motivational speaker, and he visits many northern California schools and organizations. He has appeared at Windsor Christian Academy, Sebastopol Christian School, Piner Olivet School, and others. His tag line is “Inspiration and Motivation through Art and Comedy.” When asked what themes he uses in his talks, he replied, “My dream is this: To encourage others to operate and explore their gifts and talents. To begin and feel free to do what they were meant to do in life.” By using his “wacky” car, Costas gives others permission to use their gifts and talents, perhaps in unusual and unexplored ways.
Costas loves to make people laugh, and has aspirations to become a “world-renowned inspirational speaker-comedian.” To this end, he also emcees and does stand up comedy at the local improvs. His dream is to someday appear on the Jay Leno Show, since he knows that Jay is “totally into” cars.
More information can be found on Costas Schuler’s blog at http://www.pen-guy.blogspot.com/. Information on upcoming events can be found at http://pen-guy-events.blogspot.com. Costas provides an address on his blog for sending in used pens, and he accepts all pen donations.