Pinstriping, the Art of Lines

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I’ll start off with a little bit of pinstriping history. Pinstriping was said to be born in America, there for it makes it American make, which I’m all about. Pinstriping began in the 1860’s with Andrew Mack of  JJ Deal Wagon & Buggy where he used simple pinstriping lines to accent the buggy’s and wagon’s body lines. Pinstriping carried on from wagons and buggies to the first car, the Ford Model T. The 1950’s is known as the “Golden Ear of Pinstriping” where famous pinstriper such as Kenneth Howard a.k.a. Von Dutch, Tommy The Greek, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and George Barris really flourished their skills. Today, pinstriping is as simple as a line down the side of a car or as easy as buying a printer sticker. Pinstriping is a very unique type of art that is dying off.

I chose pinstriping for my blog because I am a car guy and I especially like the old muscle cars. Pinstriping can be applied to make surfaces such as metal, wood and glass. It could be found on toys, furniture, window borders, and cars, which is my favorite. When I go to car shows I like looking for the fine details, such as the pinstriping. It could be as simple as a couple hand painted line down the side of a 69’ Camaro or as elabrent as a full work of art meeting in the middle of a 57’s Chevy Bel Air’s hood. What I do not like about pinstriping is that it is quite difficult to do, trust me I have tried in the past. Also, it is a rapidly dying form of art. I would say that pinstriping falls into its own category of art. There are three methods of pinstriping, mechanical stripe, applied by a machine on an assembly line.  Tape stripes, the cheaper alternative to paint.  These methods are very clean, simple stripes, but they lack the creativity and design that has made the art so popular.  The third method, applying the stripe by hand with a brush and paint, which still carries the creative vision so many valued in the first place, including me. The images I found were through;

Fun videos

Has anyone tried to pinstripe before?

Has anyone seen pinstriping before? If so where?

Pinstriping is a dying art, is there a place in today’s world to where it can make a comeback?

Alex Martinoz



11 thoughts on “Pinstriping, the Art of Lines

  1. I have never heard of this type of car art before. I have seen many cars that have designs on the body of it with lines and nice designs but never knew what it was called till now. I know what it is called thanks to you it’s nice to know that this was made in America where the car was invented it makes it very original. Not going to lie from the pictures it looks very complex and not easy to do. I can almost compare this to window tinting it may look easy to do but it is very difficult if you don’t get it right. I have never tried pin striping before I think that pin striping can definitely come back if not in the automobile industry then definitely in the motorcycle industry on bikes and bike helmets .

  2. Its is true that you don’t see much of pin striping done today. You can find some one cadillac for the dealer but its usually the 2 parallel lines going down the side of the. This is a dying art that you don’t see due to the change in style of cars. We have went from our heavy muscle cars that are boxy. to these light arrow dynamic cars that i feel pin striping wouldn’t look good on. I have tried pin striping before and failed miserably. I don’t have a steady hand enough hand for it

  3. I was not aware of the history of pinstriping. I thought pinstriping was always applied at the factory by a machine because of the precision involved. I was amazed to watch the patience and skill of the painter in the video. I have a new appreciation of this type of art! This type of embellishment is really quite beautiful.

  4. I’ve always loved pinstripes. Perhaps, this is due to my age, I remember the creation of dirt.

    I remember old paint jobs on trans ams and firebirds or old Indian Motorcycles. Some paint jobs were of women on the hoods of cars, others were of the Grand Canyon on the gas tanks of motorcycles.

    Pinstriped cars used to be a big industry. Unfortunately, it is done minimally these days. I’ve seen it done on radio flyers, wagons and sleds. I’ve seen it done on bikes, heck, my old quad angle had pinstripes. I’ve also seen it on all types of safes, awnings, pipe thread machines, coring machines, concrete cutters, ladders, fire department hose nozzles … just about anything with metal had pinstripes.

    Sadly, it is going to the way of the pony express.

  5. Pinstriping on cars is new to me, but I am familiar with pinstripes on clothes. I doubt if there will be a movement to bring it back. The trend toward one unified color , or no more than two colors, seems entrenched. It does require a level of skill, but this begs the question, is this art or craftsmanship?

  6. I have never done Pin striping before but I have seen it on cars and bikes. I believe there are clothes that have that same type of design. When I have seen it, it looks like they have either been white or black and the always bring out the color that there are on just to give it style. I wonder who came up with this concept in the 1st place??

  7. This is really interesting. I have seen this pin striping detail on automobiles before but I never knew it was a “thing.” I really enjoyed reading you blog and knowing that this artwork also has a place in american history. I love the examples that you have provided us, I think that even though the pin stripping is such a simple touch it adds a lot of character to the automobiles, especially the older ones that you like so much!

  8. It’s always cool to see the innovation in every kind of media, this blog post along with the other details the customization and pure art of vehicular design, and its always fantastic to learn about all the different kinds of artstyles, subcultures, and motifs that evolve thru the history of an artstyle. I am not very into cars and their stabilization myself, but seeing the crispness and detailing of linework is absolutely gorgeous!

    A lot of it looks evocative of old style “tribal” tattoo work, maybe evocative of the drivers of certain cars.

  9. I saw this on a tattoo show once… The contestants went crazy painting customized cars and I though it was so fascinating to watch. It looked very difficult at times because the artists had to paint so quickly and precisely. I love this technique because it is an awesome way to customize so many different things!

  10. I have seen people pinstripe their cars before on television but never have I seen a car decorated in it in person. Although, I think the idea looks so sharp!! I love the color arrangements and how thin the lines are. Its a creative way to detail a car and give it a new and edgy style. This also reminds of how it looks like when I have gotten my nails detailed. The nail salonist would use nail polish of a thinker brush to create thin like just like the pinstripes on cars resembles. its just flawless.

  11. Alex,

    I really wish pin striping was bigger nowadays in the car scene. I watch some car shows sometimes when they come on TV (I can’t really keep up though because I don’t know anything about them) but the main thing that grabs my attention is the amount of dedication people put in to their cars and their work. Seeing someone talk about their car is almost like seeing an artist talking about their pieces. I think, like music, things are bound to make comebacks. When the hipsters of today have outgrown their cliche beards and coffees, maybe the new generation will start to appreciate the time and work it took to pin stripe a car like that!

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