SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- "I feel proud when people like them and I like when I’m walking by and I see one of my flags on someone’s front porch […]. I do it because I feel proud being American and I feel proud of my flag and I love to see my artwork out and about," says retired police officer and part-time artist Ernie Hernandez, whose flag art has become his trademark.
Hernandez has lived in Scotch Plains since the age of 10 and has been an active member of the community for many years. He began his community service as a member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad and then joined the military. Later, he became a Scotch Plains police officer and retired as a sergeant after 20 years of service. He now works for the medical examiner’s office as an investigator and is a member of the Scotch Plains fire department. On his days off, he burrows into his garage and works on his flags.
“I’ve been serving the community of Scotch Plains since 1982. I was a Gulf War veteran, and I just love the American flag. I love the colors; I love the layout; I love the dimensions; I like making them." - Ernie Hernandez
“When I retired (from the SPPD), I started working, but still had time on my hands, so I started making flags. On Pinterest I found a guy that was making flags but they were just flags. So I said ‘Oh, I can make these!’,” said Hernandez, whose parents always supported his artistic endeavors. “I asked my friend, who is the fire chief now, for some fire hose, and I started making them.”
In the past few years, Hernandez has primarily worked with two materials: fire hose and wood. Each type of material has a unique and tedious process. He hand-paints the designs after molding the material to the size he is looking for. Throughout the time he has pursued this art, Hernandez has sold hundreds of flags to various community members, fire houses, and museums.
“It’s a nice way of saying ‘thank you’ to the fire fighters especially, when they see something that they use every day made into an American flag” Hernandez said.
Not only does Hernandez work on his flag art, but he is an avid painter. He often works on caricatures, and enjoys doing paintings of dogs. He also designed the September 11 memorial on the Alan Augustine Greene in Scotch Plains.
“I hope that when someone sees one of my flags, they’ll feel inspired and have a sense of patriotism, and an appreciation for the first responders for Scotch Plains and all over," Hernandez said. "As far as my caricatures, I hope they see them and it brings a smile to their face.”
Hernandez puts his work on the popular online garage sale pages on Facebook, and all of his pieces are available for viewing on deviantart.com: a digital art gallery (his work is under the user ernie1297).