Secret to Success – John Sarkisyan

Meet John Sarkisyan, a man who allowed nothing to stop him from working 600 hours writing graffiti with a sharpie on this BMW M3. We originally reached out to him to talk about his amazing artwork and the dedication it took to complete such a project, but in exchange realized that there was so much more behind the car than meets the eye. John is the perfect definition of the American dream and is the greatest example of why you should never give up no matter how difficult the road ahead looks.

Here is his story…

John moved to the US at the early age of 10 and came from an average family, one that worked hard to make ends meet but never had much more than just comfort. At a very early age John always knew what he wanted, he wanted to be wealthy and he knew that his love for cars and art would be his driver to getting there. Early on his workdays John started working for Harbor Motorsport, a car customization shop located in the heart of Orange County, CA. After working there a few years, John decided to take over the shop and buy the owner out as he felt the true potential of the shop wasn’t quite there and he envisioned something much greater for the shop and there was born HMS, one of the US’s most reputable Euro Tuners.

What is HMS? Tell us more about what you guys exactly do?

HMS is primarily a Mercedes tuning shop, we do everything to higher end Mercedes cars, from interior to exterior, we have the capacity to turn your car into the unique 6 figure car it should have been. We do Euro cars as well but are well known in the industry for our Mercedes AMG work. Since we are primarily a project shop, meaning clients want us to do everything to their cars, clients just drop off their cars and allow me to do my thing with them. Those are really the projects we strive for as I am very independent and take every project we receive as my own, and therefore create art through the cars.

That’s right you said you were an artist?

That’s my ultimate passion; I love art, and currently have a loft on the second floor of the HMS tuning facility that I use as my art gallery. I hope to have an exhibition soon and start selling some of my art more publicly. Right now, its more a hobby with some elements incorporated into the car lifestyle, as you may have seen the sharpie car I did…

About that Sharpie car… What was that all about? Tell us all about the reason behind it? Are you the one that did the Gallardo from Miami?

No, actually that car belongs to the owner of Lamborghini of Miami, and he had someone else do that car, then I saw the work complete and thought to myself that I can do much better than that Gallardo. A friend of mine at the time shared the facility with us and primarily tuned BMW race cars, he offered his best project car as my guinea pig and next thing you know I was in way above my head. It took 8 months to complete the project and over 600 work hours. You have to understand that a project of that magnitude really messes with your head. There would be days when I would work on the car for 10 hours straight and only to realize that I had only one panel done, its mind boggling the amount of work that took. There were times when I got so upset that I wanted to run the car in a wall or even burn the car, but in the tend with the support of a few friends that helped me complete the last 5% of the car I was able to survive the challenge. The entire car is done with a sharpie pen using tribal graffiti techniques and all the images are a reflection of most of the elements in my life, mostly women , cars and other achievements or accomplishments I’ve experience. The car itself is probably my greatest achievement; it showcases my commitment to never giving up and being able to push through the hardest challenges.

Did you ever do any other sharpie cars?

I’ve been wanting to but due to the amount of time and effort it takes, I haven’t been able to find the right client, a few close calls but nothing concrete yet, I would like to do this with my own rules as it takes a chunk out of my life for doing it and so I can’t just do it for cheap. I have been wanting to do a GTR really badly.

Talking of challenges, what were your hardest ones?

Other than the Sharpie car, creating HMS and really pushing it forward as a brand was a real challenge, I like to work alone, and so even though my father and brother help me out, its still my shop and I am very picky about my work. Being picky is good but also has its downfalls as it takes time for your clients to just trust you and drop off their cars as they do now. It took time and hard work getting HMS to where it is today but it was all worth it.

Did you always work with cars? You said you used to work there first, was that you first job?

No, I’ve always had jobs in the car industry. I used to sell wheels or just do a car there and there until it made sense to start working at a shop and then eventually made sense to take a risk but move forward and take ownership.

We’ve heard you are pretty well known on the West Coast?

I have been featured in many magazines, from INK, which was a personal favorite as its really hard to get in to Heavy Hitters which has had my work in there a few times. I’ve also been featured in a series of tuner and BMW magazine for my work on the M3.

Do you have any personal cars you work on? Tell us about your toys?

I was pretty famous for my CLS63 which was one of the most modified and publicized AMG’s on the planet. It was a real special car and had quite a bit done to it. We redid the entire interior  in alcantra as well as the engine and exterior full redone. I sold it a few years back.

I still have my BUG and it has quite a bit of work in it, close to 100k to be exact!

I also have a CLK55 which I drive around for now, and just purchased another project which I am trying to complete for SEMA this year. Its going to be one of a kind I have a secret name for it (Secret Entourage: We know how to keep a secret)

All these accomplishments, where do you see it all go in 5 years? And what motivates you to keep going.?

My art work is my ultimate final accomplishment, I would like it if more people were aware of it and I was able to open a gallery, I am highly motivated by money so hard work comes naturally, since the age of 14, I have always been pushing for the lifestyle I want and not the one I was born into.

Any tips for our readers?


Well thank you John for taking the time to talk to us at Secret Entourage, we wish you the very best for years to come and will make sure to visit HMS next time we are on the west coast.

For more info on HMS motorsport, visit HMS Motorsports

Make sure to also visit john’s personal blog and check out his cool artwork  Slang 500