→ Buy now: Amanda Wachob x Roam Limited-Edition Large Carry-On, $975, roamluggage.com
As a tattoo artist, Amanda Wachob is used to creating art on surfaces that move around a lot. Her next project is just as mobile: The trendsetting Los Angeles–based tattoo artist teamed up with Roam—the fully customizable luggage brand—to use hard suitcase shells as her canvas instead of human skin.
Launching March 7 with just 100 limited-edition large carry-ons, the Roam x Amanda Wachob collaboration aims to turn the baggage carousel into an art gallery of sorts. Before she pioneered watercolor tattoo techniques, Wachob started off as a photographer and painter; she has had projects with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New Museum, and the Whitney.
Four years ago, Roam reached out to Wachob with the idea of making a decal for Roam’s popular polycarbonate hard-shell luggage. But Wachob wasn’t sure it was a fit.
“I didn’t want to focus on making a sticker that could be reproduced over and over,” Wachob told AFAR. Instead of creating a single design and copying it, she wanted to make each suitcase slightly different. When she pitched Roam the concept of hand-painted luggage, they took a chance on her idea. After all, creating one-of-a-kind luggage is already in Roam’s wheelhouse.
Since all Roam luggage is fully customizable, it’s never mass produced; each piece is made by hand in its factory in Rome, Georgia. As a result, there’s very little waste produced by the brand. This process appealed to Wachob; she wanted to create something rare, something people would treasure instead of creating a continuous cycle of consumerism.
Beetle-mania: luggage inspired by a beetle’s iridescence
“Right before Roam approached me to do the collaboration, I had tattooed a scientist who studied the iridescence in insects,” Wachob said in a video about her design process. “They told me that the iridescence doesn’t come from a color, it actually comes from tiny structures on an insect’s body reflecting light.
“I kind of saw the shape of the luggage as sort of beetle-esque,” Wachob told AFAR. “The case is even called a shell.”
She then set out to re-create the jewel beetle-like effect on Roam’s large carry-on luggage. She ultimately spent about a week at the Roam factory in Rome, Georgia, creating the pieces. For each of the 100 suitcases, Wachob spray-painted five to seven colors, everything from blue to purple to gold and green, in seven or more layers on each of the 200 shells (front and back).
“We’re used to seeing luggage that is just one solid color,” Wachob said. “I wanted to layer as many colors as possible. Why not?”
A rolling piece of artwork
Available for $975 in Roam’s large carry-on size—its most popular size—there are two color palettes you can pick. “Nocturne” is predominantly black and purple with gold and green accents, while “Cerulean” has a blue and purple base with teal-green highlights.
Although Wachob narrowed down the selection of colors to go with her creation, there are still five different trim and wheel colors available to customize the bags, including Carolina Lilac, Kyoto Black, Venetian Green, Como Blue, and Ibiza Sky. The lining of the suitcase is Wachob’s custom creation, designed to be as shiny and luminescent as the outside of the luggage.
The bags also come with certificates of authenticity and a distinctive luggage tag; Wachob used a rotary tattoo machine and white tattoo ink to add her signature and limited edition number. Worried about scuffs? Roam is also shipping the bags with a clear luggage protector for storage that doesn’t cover the wheels, so you could also use it to prevent scratches when checking your luggage.
The bags are on sale now, but you’ll have to act quickly to get your hands on these pieces of rolling art.