Sam Bernal is a SoCal native, surfer, skater, and artist extraordinaire. He creates his pieces from the scenery around him, using his imagination to bring his art new life. Sam's high-energy surf art, consisting of vivid shapes and colors, is known to cause people to step back from reality and immerse themselves in his creations.
// For those readers unfamiliar with your background, can you give us a quick overview?
I was born in SoCal. As I grew I became a skater and surfer. My grandma lived in HB and I learned to surf in HB shooting the pier. I have always been big into music and I was in a band. In college I was a Physics major. When I graduated I got a job as lighting engineer.
// What lead you to leave you job and go into art?
In May of 2011 I got hurt rock climbing. I ruptured a disk in my back. I couldn’t sit at desk anymore and really didn’t want to continue to do that for another 50 years. I wanted a life I could really enjoy. I got into personal development, and figured I can do it myself. I enrolled in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Through NLP, my personal happiness and professional success was much more consistent, and much more predictable. I was able to generate empowering emotional states within myself and eliminate any negative emotions or limiting decisions. It involves changing your whole thinking patterns. The meditation I learned changed my perceptions and it took me from being science based to more spiritually based. It completely changed my life. Finally on my 30th birthday I was finally fully an artist!
// What are some of the more unusual comments people have said about your work?
People have said they seen my art in their psychedelic journeys. I want people to feel happy and have a sense of wonder and joy when they look into my art. All my art is colorful and fun. I see my artwork as good vibe vigilantes, spreading good vibes and smiles where ever it is placed. I want people to get lost in my art if even for a second. My goal is to make people stop for a second and experience a happy journey before they get back to their own reality.
// What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to inspire your work?
I have several artists that inspire me. My top artists would be Chris Dyer, Alex Gray, Drew Brophy and Rick Riteveld. Rick Riteveld is the one of the gods of surf art.
// What advice has influenced you?
Practice progress, not perfection.... The more you create the better you will get. I love to create and I can get to “nit picky” and at some point I just have to let it go and finish. Art is not perfect and that is something that an artist has to always keep in mind. In art there is no right or wrong!
// Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
Dream, Fail, Succeed, Repeat. I was feeling super low in life and then I got this tattooed on my arm. All the failures are just part of my story, I am not an overnight success. Luck is really where opportunity and preparation meet. Failure only happens when you stop trying. It’s never over till your
6 feet under.
// How long does a typical piece take you to create?
Depends on the size and detail. 24”x36” took me 80 hours to create Fibon-finity. When people ask me how long something takes, its figurative. It took my entire life to practice to create this one piece your looking at. There is no time placed on art.
// What is your favorite object/ scene to draw?
The beach and the ocean is always a favorite. It’s the feeling it brings to me and what I feel it makes people feel when they look at the art. I also like Sacred geometry because I like to explain to people what it truly is and it leads people to get into something they haven’t yet experienced. With Sacred geometry there is an intrinsic beauty and anyone can enjoy it.
// What mediums do you work with?
Most of my work is with Acrylic paint pens with, credit given to Drew Brophy’s DVD at the art shop. I got painting on my surfboards and then I couldn’t stop. Sometimes I use spray paint or resins to cover my work. I enjoy painting and designing skateboard decks. For some reason when painting the boards I tend to go crazy and use all different techniques and mediums.
// What themes seem to occur/reoccur in your work?
Beaches and the ocean always reoccur, for sure. When people see my art I want them to escape into their minds and get away from the frustration of real life. I want them to take a “mini vacation” for whatever it is that is cluttering their minds. Even just for a split second, escape and be in my art, free and stoked. If that happens then my art is working!
// What was one of the most defining moments in your life?
When I hurt my back, I was in joyride mode before it happened. When I injured myself it forced me to look at my life and reevaluate my goals and dreams. The injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It truly changed my life, for the better.
// What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them?
The biggest challenge for me is time. The more I create the more story I want to put intot the artwork. If a piece of art takes me 80 hours, I just can’t work straight. Plus, it takes time to create the work and time to do the business side of everything.
// Recently you were able to join the Guinness Book of World Records. What exactly did you do and how did you do it?
I collaborated with Peter Townsend, who is the first world champion surfer. Peter wanted to break the surfing record in Huntington Beach. He created a 42 foot long board by 12 feet wide. The board weighed 1350 lbs. We put 66 people on the board! Ultimately we got the world record!
// What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have a BA in Physics. I was a full time engineer until I decided to give it all up and become a full time artist. I couldn’t be happier now.
// Get to know Sam better though the intriguing art he creates. Journey deeper into Sam’s imagination at