The history of pinstriping stretches back in one long, straight, hand-painted line all the way to horse-drawn carriages and further back in time to cave walls. What’s certain is this: you can’t talk about pinstriping without hearing the name Kenny Howard, best known as Von Dutch. Thought to be the granddaddy of the art, Von Dutch was an artist and avid biker who learned hand lettering at age 10 from his papa, a professional sign painter. He did the majority of his work in the 1940s and 1950s, but today the art is just as hot as it was back then. This time around, however, it has resurfaced in the mainstream, straddling both the hot rod and biker culture and the Jaguar and Mini Cooper set.
In this collision of cultures reside a few masters whose influences and training run the gamut. From hot rod enthusiasts to tattoo artists to Tiki bar owners, pinstriping is an art practiced, touted, and passed down through the ages. Meet three fiercely coveted masters of the steady hand.
EAST COAST ARTIE (eastcoastartie.com)
At 13, Artie Schilling did his first striping job on a ’51 Chevy, and he’s watched
the industry evolve. “Hot rod culture is so hot right now because of shows like
Monster Garage,” says the owner of East Coast Artie’s, in Surfisde Beach,
SC. “There’s a crossover into tattoo terrain, too,” he says. “I’ve even designed
tattoos for people, but I can’t begin to dig a needle into anyone yet.”
ROBERT PRADKE (customautodesign.com)
Robert Pradke, of Eastford, CT , is a veteran of shows like Discovery’s Biker
Build-Off and he takes extra pride in his gold leaf work, which carefully
incorporates metals into his craft. “I like pure forms, and I manipulate my
work from there to make it a little edgier and harder. My designs give a nod
in the direction of Von Dutch, Ed Roth, and, of course, Tommy the Greek.”
DAN KITE (dankitepinstriping.com)
Biker Dan Kite spends his winter months in Florida and has a house in Illinois,
but the rest of the time he “lives on the road” with his wife, Gina. A
third-generation painter, he’s passed on the art to his oldest son, Brian.
Bikes are his specialty. “My work is mainly Harley-Davidson related …
I’m influenced by that type of culture, attitude, whatever.”