How to Paint Your Hippie Van

The hippie movement was all the rage during the 1960s, and this belief system continues to live on and evolve today. Hippies distanced themselves from the conservative 1950s and wanted to change the world. Hippies promoted freedom, love and peace.

This funky style brightened up the world with bold colors and psychedelic images. Flaunt your love of the 1960s era with a bit of creativity to transform your van into a funky work of art.

  1. Wash the van with soap and water to remove any debris.

  2. Remove scratches from the van by hand or with a dual-action sander and wet/dry sandpaper. Popular choices for sanding include 60, 80, 400, 1,000, and 1,200 grit sandpaper. Use a rough grit to sand, then work your way up the levels of grit. Remove debris with a fiber towel between sanding.

  3. Paint the van with an automotive primer so you will have a smooth, even surface to work with. Allow the primer to dry.

  4. Place painter’s masking tape on all the parts of the van that you don’t want to decorate with paint. Use large garbage bags to cover the grill, bumper, and windows. Remember, spray paint will cover anything that isn’t protected.

  5. Use an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) spray gun to paint your van with a base color. Hold the gun about 12 inches to 15 inches from the surface of the van for an even finish and keep the spray gun moving so paint doesn’t collect in one spot. Use vivid shades such as lime green, aqua blue, bright yellow and orange. Some hippie vans used different colors for each section. Allow the paint to dry.

  6. Wet sand the base coat with 1,200 grit sandpaper. Repeat this process until you have given your vehicle about four coats of paint.

  7. Use airbrush stencils and the airbrush gun to decorate your van. Cover the area around the stencil with painter’s tape. Carefully fill in the stencil design using your spray gun and psychedelic neon colors such as yellow, pink, orange, blue and green. Popular designs for hippies include suns, daisies, mushrooms and peace signs. Other choices include fishes, smiley faces, butterflies and hearts.

  8. Use airbrush stencils to spray-paint words on your van such as “Peace,” “Love,” “Groovy” or “Flower Power.”