Sleek. Razor-sharp. Fluid. Pinstriping has transformed the way we see cars. Pinstripers hone their craft for years, creating divinely detailed, and perfectly executed designs that make cars, trucks, and boats pop. Pinstriping is the crème de la crème of hot rod design, and these ten artists are leaders of the pinstriping pack:
The work of Steven Kafka, of Kafka Designs, goes beyond the artistry of pinstriping. His work has morphed into creating tools of the trade — notably, the Kafka System, which includes a versatile pinstriping brush, pages and pages of original designs, transparencies, and a how-to DVD. His celebrated Kafka brushes, paint oil, and a specially designed paint additive has garnered him a top spot among celebrated pinstriping legends.
If you thought Sharpies were just for doodling, the work of Chris Dunlop will have you see those inky markers in a new way. The guy known as Pinstripe Chris uses Sharpies exclusively to create artwork on a car’s surface. The kicker? He works entirely freehand — not a single template or stencil in sight.
Jim Hetzler of JC Hetz Studio has been honing his craft for over 40 years, and he even collaborates with House of Kolor paint to create the most durable, dynamic hues on the planet. As an award-winning pinstriper, and frequent television contributor to West Coast Customs TV show, Jim Hetzler continues to push the boundaries on art and creative mastery.
Alan Johnson literally wrote the book on pinstriping. In How To Pinstripe, he offers a step-by-step guide on how to tackle all types of projects, and includes information on how to prepare surfaces and how to experiment with asymmetrical design. He’s also travels to teach the art of pinstriping, and is a consultant for automotive paint manufacturers.
For some, pinstriping is a family business. Just ask ace artist Cliff Anderson Jr.. This midwestern pinstriper’s passion began when he was a kid. At the tender age of 10, he worked alongside his father, lettering race cars, trucks, and trailers. Some 35+ years later, his work has been at every major auto show from the Detroit Autorama to the Oakland Roadster Show.
With his keen eye for detail and whimsy, Alton Gillespie has solidified his spot as a world class artisan. In 2007, he won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Pinstripe Legends — a group of artists whose aim is to recognize pinstripers for their inspiring contributions to the innovation and perpetuation of this masterful form.
Some artists are so confident in their work at an early age, striping for pay is a slam dunk. Rick Harris, one of the most celebrated stripers of our time, began his craft on a whim when he was 21, after striping the Volkswagen Beetle his father had bought for him. He drove it to the dealership, wowed them with his striping skills, and he was hired on the spot.
Pinstripers revel in their one-of-a-kind style. Charlie Deck, aka One Arm Bandit, is known for his tight, consistent line quality. As an aficionado of old style pinstriping and hand-done lettering, Deck is both traditional and cutting-edge cool.
Orange County, California is known for being a hotbed for custom car enthusiasts. It’s also where you’ll find Don Q., a pinstriper for over 30 years. With a speciality in hand painted brush pinstriping and lettering, Don Q is known for his divinely detailed work not just on cars and trucks, but also concept cars.
Rounding the top ten list, is San Diego artist Mark Whitney Mehran (MWM) of Hot Rod Surf. Not only is MWM an artist, he’s also a master mechanic, and his rolling art is featured on custom motorcycles, hot rods, and in independent art movies.
Photo credits: All photos via artist’s websites or link to source.