Pin striping (pinstriping) is the application of a very thin line of paint or other material called a pin stripe, and is generally used for decoration. Freehand pin stripers use a specialty brush known as a pinstriping brush. Fine lines in textiles are also called pin stripes.
Automotive, bike shops, and do-it-yourself car and motorcycle mechanics use paint pin striping to create their own custom look on the automotive bodies and parts.
Pin striping can commonly be seen exhibited on custom motorcycles, such as those built by Choppers Inc., Indian Larry, and West Coast Choppers. The decorative use of pin striping on motorcycles as it is commonly seen today was pioneered by artists Kenny Howard, (aka Von Dutch) and Dean Jeffries, Dennis "Gibb" Gibbish, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. These artists are considered pioneers of the Kustom Kulture lifestyle that spawned in the early 1950s, and are widely recognized as the "originators of modern pin striping."
In automotive body work, pin stripes are a thin vinyl tape or paint. The tape versions are adhered directly to the painted surface in the pattern desired, whilst painted ones are done by skilled artists with 'sword' shaped brushes. The paint used by the vast majority of stripers is a lettering enamel made by 1 Shot although companies such as House of Kolor and lately Kustom Shop also make striping urethane.
The goal of pin striping is to enhance the curves of the surface, and the lines are generally of a complementary color. In any other form of decorative pin stripes, the goal is the same. In addition and coincidentally, it can help to hide flaws in the surface such as a scratch or blemish.
Pin stripe décor is also applied to motorcycles, bicycles, semi trucks, boats, and surfboards. It traditionally Is combined with freehand lettering and to a lesser degree sign making. The age of computers and vinyl decals helped undercut the base of traditional sign making and with it the traditional pinstriper.
Whilst stripers such as Lyle Fisk, Von Dutch (Kenny Howard) and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth are possibly the best known early practitioners of 'modern' pin striping, many of the early stripers cite Tommy "The Greek" Hrones and Dean Jeffries as their major influences.
There are countless brush artists who carry on the tradition, not only in the US but across the globe — The Doc in Compton, Preacher (Peter McDermott) in San Antonio Texas, Steve Kafka in Arizona, Alton Gillespie in Fort Worth, Texas, Victor in Nebraska,Alan Johnson Blairstown, New Jersey, Cliff Anderson Minneapolis, Minnesota, Gator in Tennessee, One Arm Bandit in New England, Anthony White in Florida, SCORCH Pinstriping(Daniel Lee) in Bakersfield California (Kustom Drink Paint), Don Q Studios in Orange County California, MWM from Hot Rod Surf in San Diego, Brando in Chicago, Tommy "Itchy" Otis in Los Angeles, California, Don "Spiderman" Fite of Portland, Oregon and Herb Martinez to name a few of the US stripers. Tramp Warner in Canada...Nefarious, Neil Melliard and Tootall Paul in the UK, Tom Plate in Germany, Simon Watts from Australia, Makoto in Japan and Eduardo Bignami in Brazil show that pin striping has become a worldwide art form. In addition to that, Mark Court of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars still pinstripes the "coachline" of that company's cars by hand.
The method to "pull lines" used by contemporary stripers has changed little since the '50s. A beginner can start with nothing more than sword striper and a can of 1 shot enamel. Although some art shops like JC Hertz Studio in Iowa or Curlys Pinstriping in California have combined it with modern computer graphics to advance the trade. The "Beugler" is a mechanical version of the sword striping brush that is useful in production settings.
Mack still makes brushes the same way they did when Andrew Mack started the company, although their product line includes more than just swords. Stripers such as Steve Kafka and Mr J have designed brushes suited to their striping styles; the Kafka brushes make the swirls and complicated designs, which make up Kafka's signature style, much easier to do, and Mr J's Xcaliber brushes have shorter hairs than the traditional Mack, making them more suited to beginners.