Photography: Kevin Spanier // Text: Wooley

In the age of the craftsmen, quality mattered, and ‘labor’…or ‘the craft’was an appreciated & respected part of the process. It was appreciated & respected by the trade AND the customer, because it created a better product that would last longer, and wouldn’t leave you hanging. Meaning – it was valuable, willing to be paid for, and worth its cost. And then the first business men came along and realized, that high ‘quality & craft’were not the only ways to be successful in an industry. They saw that if they could find a way to cut time in productions and/or cut costs in materials (aka quality), then they could sell a product based on ‘value’.

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But ‘value’ was a made up word in most of these cases. Because the real definition of ‘value’implies that you are getting more for less. When in reality, a lot of the time, you’re getting less for less. So the world ‘value’replaced the word ‘cheap’…because it sounds more sellable. But it’s actually the polar opposite of what they’re actually selling. Now, this first businessmen were very clever, because the ploy worked, and it snagged customers from the craftsmen…and created the entry-level product. It satisfied the consumer’s desire to save money…and it marketed the lesser quality product in a very perky, positive way – value.


And this technique has lasted through the ages ever since. We see it all the time in today’s marketing campaigns. Companies create an image around a product…that is the polar opposite of what the actual product is. Redbull & Monster Energy can be seen sponsoring almost every facet of extreme action sports. Yet what do these companies manufacture?? They bottle drinks that are obscenely chalked full of sugar & caffeine. Who drinks them?? Not many serious, committed athletes, that’s for sure.

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But they market their brand around these action sports to create an image around their product that isn’t genuine. Who are the biggest advertisers during the Olympics?? McDonalds & Coca-Cola. Those two companies are at polar opposites with the spirit of the Olympics or any trained athlete. Alcoholic beverages advertise a life of action & adventure, while in reality, alcohol is a depressant. The new Toyota Highlander commercial chants a song with muppets about how they ‘aint got no room for boring’. It’s a Toyota Highlander.


So it seems like if you want to sell a product these days, just market it as the polar opposite of what it actually is. Because people love being lied to. Think about it.


But Bryson Richards, the owner/driver of this car, is the truth – for better or for worse. He’s a craftsman. An artist. And these days…more of the exception than the rule. He has become one of my closest friends, someone I can talk to within this industry, and someone to give me the right advice. He owns a custom paint & body shop called Classic Livery of Atlanta (formerly Wagenwerks). He does big-budget builds – mostly high-end tuners, exotics, and race cars. And he is wildly passionate & driven when it comes to the car culture – especially the motorsports side of it. He’s passionate & driven almost to a fault, when you consider most businesses these days are focused primarily on efficiency & turn-around.

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But Bryson prioritizes quality over efficiency, even over his family at times. And sometimes it ties him up in knots. It’s not always sunshine & rainbows. But it happens – because he has so much to say through his work. A lot to get off his chest talent-wise. Sometimes, you can see his mind get tangled up as he over-analyzes projects, or wants to go further than a customer’s budget allows. I have seen him put twice as much labor into a car than a customer was paying for…because Bryson just couldn’t let it go until BRYSON was happy with it…. even if it was out of the customer’s price range.


I’ve also seen that persistence take a tole on his business. But every car that comes out of his shop, speaks Bryson’s voice artistically, and raises the bar skill-wise. Bryson was, is, and will always be an artist & a craftsman first…

Read the rest of this feature and more in our new Issue 31 available for purchase in the S3MagStore


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