The Art of Custom Pinstriping
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Learn as you go
Doug began painting as a teenager. Self-taught, he started with landscapes. “Then I got the brushes and a can of 1 Shot,” he says. In the late 1970s, he did a lot of work for a Harley dealer. “I repainted and hand-striped a lot of motorcycles,” he recalls. “I pinstriped anything and everything, even bowling pins.” A fan of artist Ed Roth’s Rat Fink work, he embraced the 1960s hot rod culture.
Operating like modern-day artists’ guilds, pinstripers provide tips and inspiration to each other. “I went to a show in Tulsa six years ago,” he says, “and there were stripers there from all over the country. Most pinstripers are self-taught; I learned a lot from them.”
Those who would earn a living from art must be versatile, and pinstripers are no exception. “A lot of stripers used to paint billboards and big ads on barns,” Doug says. “Painters used to travel the country doing that. That was good art. It livened up the countryside and farmers made some money.”
The craft, he muses, goes back centuries. “I suppose Indian pottery had what you could call pinstriping,” he says. In the past few years, he’s seen a few younger painters take up the art form. “Some people manage to do it as full time work,” he says. “But they have to do a lot of traveling. They’ll set up a tent at a car show and work 12-hour days.”
Every pinstriper fights a battle with time. “The older you get, you have to deal with changes in eyesight and steadiness of your hand,” Doug says. “With experience you learn how to control the brush, how to brace your hand.”
Years ago, Doug met a second-generation pinstriper. “His dad had worked as a pinstriper for Ford and Studebaker,” he says, “back when those cars were hand-striped.” Those days are mostly gone. Today, he says, some new cars are pinstriped, “but there’s a lot of striping tape out there.” FC
For more information: Phone Doug Humble at (319) 330-3290; e-mail: email@example.com.
Leslie McManus is editor of Farm Collector. Contact her at LMcManus@ogdenpubs.com.
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