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Local artist transforms school bus into mobile art shop

Cantua began her business in high school
Local artist
Posted at 9:56 PM, Apr 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-02 04:32:05-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The pandemic forced many small business owners to close up shop for good, but for one determined artist, she wasn’t ready to let her dreams die.

Today, Erica Cantua's business, Erixaart, is thriving thanks to her investment in a school bus.

"There was that thought in the back of my mind where this could just not work out," she said when asked about her thought process when the idea came about.

Originally selling her pieces through her website, the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to change the way she did business.

That's when she got the idea to take her art on the road.

"I wasn’t ready to give up, and I spent a lot of time re-branding," she said. "Improving the quality of my products and coming up with this solution, the school bus."

The first challenge, she says, was finding a bus, which she did in March last year on Craigslist. The second challenge was the 11-month restoration of the bus, which she says she did all on her own.

The bus was officially completed this past January and it was also the same month she attended her first small-business event.

She says she attends several local events around every month with her bus.

When asked what challenges came with restoring the bus for 11 months, she responded, "Being consistent with the build because you have to have that endurance to keep going, keep going."

She said "people are very shocked" when they find out she completed the entire restoration project on her own.

But she said it's on-brand for her abstract art and the inspiration behind each piece: to not judge a book by its cover.

"In high school, I was judged a lot on the outside appearances because I loved to dress up, be girly," Cantua said. "I felt frustrated with that and started painting these creepy faces."

Cantua says she never once thought about giving up, adding that she hopes her journey serves as an inspiration to others.

"I did have that determination to prove people wrong based on my outside appearances that I can do it, and I wanted to inspire others," she said.

Today, running her art business is her full time job.

She says she hopes to one day take her bus across the country.