Smooth lines, vibrant colors, and long hours at the shop. Unlike many artists, the style of pinstriping is only taught to a select few. Made popular through the low rider culture, this technique of painting consists of a small brush and many years of practice.
From the thousands of vendors at last month’s Turlock Swap, one stood out above the rest. Julio Hernandez is a self taught pinstriper and custom artist that owns and operates his family shop, Julio's Pinstriping which is located at 5494 E Lamona Suite #118, in Fresno California.
He came all the way out to Turlock because of the clients that he can meet.
“I pick up clientele from up and down the state and some from out of state,” Hernandez said.
He has been professionally pinstriping for the last thirteen years but has been attending the Turlock Swap for the last thirty. Since the age of six he would attend with his dad and look at the cars that were up to show.
“The cars I was drawn to were the cars with the cool flames and cool graphics and the low riders with the cool paint jobs," Hernandez said. "I used to think as a car painter, you could do all of that but as I got older I learned it takes a special and talented artist to do all that. That’s when I realized I wanted to be that guy.”
According to Hernandez, “the pinstriper is basically the artist of the car world. Being able to paint and work on cars” is what he strived for while growing up. “I always liked doodling as a kid and coming to shows like this,” Hernandez said.
After many years of learning and practicing his newly beloved trait, Hernandez found himself as “one of the last pinstripers in the valley." “This craft takes a lot of skill and a lot of practice. There is a very few people that can do the full gamut of what I do,” Hernandez said.
Referring to designing, airbrushing gold leafing, and custom painting, Hernandez has all of them perfected.
“I don’t have a lot of competition but mainly because it is a dying art. So a lot of the gentlemen that used to do this have passed away, which makes me one of the few that still does it," Hernandez said.
Having a studio in Fresno gave Hernandez a wide range for clientele. Being in the center of California, many people came to his shop “throughout the whole year people from Hayward, Stockton, and Sacramento” would bring him their cars to get painted. “I get to play with everybody else’s toys. They bring me their hot rods, their Harley's, their low riders and say ‘Okay, you’re the artist so do your thing.’”
While many of his customers are out of town, the furthest he has gone to display his art was out of the country.
During his 2005 deployment with the Army, Hernandez was stationed in Iraq with not a lot of cars to paint during his free time.
“One of the high ranking officers found that I was pretty creative so he asked if I could do some murals,” Hernandez said. "So I did a total of 5 murals while overseas in Iraq".
Uplifting to both civilians and fellow soldiers, this brought a little piece of home to a place far away.
The art of pinstriping might might be a dying art in the Central Valley but Hernandez's work will live on through the various cars he has pinstriped on.