Hello everyone!

Unfortunately, The Bus Fair 2020 had to be postponed until June 2021.

Fortunately, we are still able come together as a community, digitally!

30 unique Skoolies were chosen to be Featured Exhibitors at The Bus Fair. Since you are unable to meet and view the buses in person - we're bringing a handful of them right to you!

Contributing Writers Elizabeth with LittleHouseOnTheHwy and Patrick with SkoolieLove have been working on these interviews the past few weeks. Get ready!

We are here to bring you personal interviews about these bus homes and the folks behind the buses.

Let us introduce to you the first interview from our 'TheBusFair Features' Series

The Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio.

art supplies bunk bed travel studio

          "Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio is A 501(c)(3) nonprofit Veteran Artist founded and operated art studio. We seek to build bridges of cultural understanding through artistic expressions for Veteran Artists.We dedicated to building a bridge between each participants capabilities and his or her imagination to provide a place where veterans can non-verbally can speak through their art.

          The Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio's mission is to enhance the quality of life for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their community by providing alternative tools in art and art making.

          With the use of community based art practices and Art Therapy methods Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio is dedicated to getting veterans outside, art supplies in hand telling their stories."

Bus specs:

Make: Blue Bird
Model: TC-2000
Motor: Cummins
Year: 1997
Interior Square Footage: 240
Current Location: Atlanta GA
Purchased From/Location: Toms River High School Marching Band, Toms River NJ
Cost in materials for the conversion: $20,000
From bus purchase to on the road: 13 months

Bus owner and Interviewee: Jessica Rambo

paint can project marine veteran combat bus conversion

The Painted Buffalo is built into the belly of a retired marching band school bus. With the help of local Greensboro, North Carolina community members, Veterans across the country and other supporters, the retired school bus was converted into a Skoolie. 

Jessica Rambo and her family are dedicated to the mission to art and currently reside in the Traveling Studio full time.

The Painted Buffalo is equipped with an 8 foot by 8 foot living room/ art studio space, a fully functioning kitchen with a stove/oven combo, 7.6 cubic inch fridge and loads of art material space. The Skoolie has a functioning composting toilet restroom, shower and bath capabilities. It has room to snuggle 6 people in and sleep comfortably.

With the layout of the traveling studio, art classes are hosted aboard the bus in our "living room," which can accommodate up to 8 adults at a time.

Why a bus?

I looked into trailers, RVs and stationary tiny homes but I thought 1. It was cheaper to go with a bus, and would have the most personality out of all the options. I didn’t want to tow the tiny house around, and wanted one able to get rid of a vehicle if need be.

artwork flag cat interior bus conversion

How long have you been living in your bus?

We have been full-time bus living since August 1, 2019

Where did you convert your bus?

Most of the bus conversion happened in Greensboro NC in between Art school classes, raising my kids, and working part-time. After moving into the bus we went to Splendor Oaks in Georgia to finish the rest of the build.

skoolie van bus conversion meet up painted buffalo

What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?

My friends were so excited that I bought a bus and have been living vicariously through us. I think it gives other people hope that if I can do it so can they. We have met so many great Skoolie friends along the way, and can’t wait meet more!

Tell us about your layout.

Our bus is laid out with the driver’s seat, living room area, kitchen, toilet, bunks, shower/tub, and the Momma bed. We have one straight hallway where from my bed, I can see the front door, that was important to me.

clean interior painted buffalo studio paint can project

son bedroom bunk marvel star wars interior

Did you do the conversion yourself?

I had my hands in every nook and cranny of this bus! I’m proud to say that. But I do have to give a lot of props to Dan and Rachel from The Messi Journey and Kurtis from Splendor Oaks. Both of them helped tremendously in the success of the electrical and plumbing.

Who are you living/traveling with?

The Painted Buffalo currently carries Liam, 9 years old full time, and Skyler, 12 years old part-time and me! We also have Bella, black Lab, Atlas, Blue healer, and Sushi the cat on board.

painted buffalo studio cats dogs veteran mom bus life

Were you all on the same page about living bus life or did one person (or more) have to be convinced?

I was all on board for bus life, it took a lot of convincing the kids that they would have an awesome time too. Now when I talk about moving into a regular house they get really upset! They love it now!

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself so far?

I grew up with a crafty and handy mechanic mother and I was also in the Marine Corps. There were a lot of new tools to build the bus, but that was the best part! Learning new things.

Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who want/are converting a vehicle? Something you wish you had known going into this?

No matter if you’re building it yourself or having someone build it, make sure you know how each piece works, and be able to fix it when it breaks. Because something is going to break!

fixing underneath bus chassis female veteran life adventure

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?

Most people comment on our bathtub. We have a 4 foot horse trough. And also all the art supplies. We have so many! We host Veteran art classes on the bus and travel to veterans to tell their stories through art.

cat son big tub skoolie interior bathroom

What do you do for income? How often do you work on the bus?

I’m medically separated from the Marine Corps, so I get disability. We live well within our means to make bus life work, it’s hard but worth it. I also sell artwork to make it work and to do fun adventures.

The hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change/ living/traveling in a bus? Easiest thing?

For me, it was stripping away all of the extra stuff. Parting with junk/stuff is the hardest part. Once you start getting rid of stuff it becomes easier. The easiest thing is spending time with my kids and going on adventures.

Is there anything you wish you did differently in your build?

Like most builders, we all have our next bus build planned. I would put my bed differently so I can walk around and left the bed for storage.

What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?

Raising kids in bus life is really setting them up for success. And bring us all back together. I spent so much time away from them while in the military. This bring us all back together.

children kids painting art learning unschool home school outdoors

What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?

For the kids, it’s when I pick them up from school in the bus. We’ve been to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida on the bus so far. The most meme table has been swimming with manatees in Crystal River.

What might you be doing three months from now?

I hope to put a roof deck and solar to become more off grid.

How can people learn more about you?

Visit Painted Buffalo traveling studio on Facebook or Instagram or PaintedBuffalostudio.com

exciting life bus conversion adventure laptop interior design

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