July '16

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28 THE SHOP JULY 2016 duction cars, they all come from creative humans and love." And it all begins with a designer. "They all started with pencil on paper. I love the process of concept to reality to the aftermarket and customization. Cars and trucks are canvases to express who you are. I love all the different niches: lifted trucks, hot rods, imports, muscle cars, lowriders. We all share the same love like a family would, and I just can't imagine insurance salesmen having the same bond." That's not to say that there aren't days when running his company actually becomes, you know, work. "As business has become a continuous rotation of projects, my biggest daily chal- lenge is remaining passionate and moti- vated for the lingering long-term projects while exciting new projects are coming in," he admits. "It takes discipline to stay focused on what I need to do and not what I want to do." And there's also the constant juggling of new creative projects versus managing the vital real-world relationships his company has built and needs to maintain. "The challenging part as a creative artist is the fact that the work requires my moti- vation and excitement to get the best out of me, and sometimes I just can't turn it on. With new jobs coming in, I find motivation to start a project or complete a project in the weirdest places. Meanwhile, invoicing, chasing money and deadlines can put a wet blanket on creativity. So I always try to stay in a place of happiness and creativity at all times." Most often, he says, that's found while immersed in a project. "When I was kid, I would sit at my drawing table and draw cars. I would get into a mode where my subconscious would take over and everything just flowed. It was a high that I can't explain and it's a feeling I chase to this day," he reveals. "But, the most rewarding feeling is when I receive a check made out to my business—a business I only dreamed about when I thought I would have to conform and get a real job. I feel fortunate and grateful that hard work and passion have enabled me to do what I feel I was put on this planet to do." THE 'LAST RIDE' & BEYOND Ask Bernal about his all-time favorite project and he says, "That's an easy one: The Last Ride 2011 Mustang I built in tribute to my friend and automotive mentor Joe Gosinski. It is by far the most meaningful project to me." Calling it an example of what he could do when starting with a blank canvas, the project took a personal, tragic turn. "There have been cars that have been more technical, but this was a car that Joe and I collaborated on and were going to build before he was murdered in his shop on Christmas Eve 2010," he says. "I knew he would want me to follow through with the plan and deliver it to SEMA, and that's what I did. Last Ride debuted in the Doug Thorley booth at SEMA 2011. I was awarded the Mothers Design Excel- lence Award that year and the car went on to take over the internet and magazines." A Subaru BRZ. A two-door Jeep for Paramount Automotive. A Ford F-150 pickup. Mike Swanson's 1961 Im- pala drop-top, "Swansong." A U T O S T Y L E A Subaru A U T O S T Y L E Bernal

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