It's pretty common for us enthusiasts to assume that the art of pinstriping is contained solely in the realm of the hot rod world. Heck, I'll bet I wouldn't be far off the mark in guessing Von Dutch was the first thing that popped into many of your minds at the mere mention of the term. Well, as much as pinstriping and hot rodding are synonymous, they're really not. In fact, believe it or not, pinstriping as an art form actually dates back to the days of the chariot-though when you think about it I guess it could be said the chariot very well could have been civilization's first hot rod-heavy stuff, huh? Freehand-painted stripes and designs have appeared on almost everything imaginable over the years. Signs, pianos, furniture, wagons, stage coaches, railroad engines, and railroad cars are just a smattering of examples and a complete list would likely be near endless. Though pinstriping found its way into the realm of cars and trucks early on, Henry Ford was a proponent, too, and countless Model As were treated to striping at the factory. I even heard these early stripers (or "liners" as they were called at the time) were paid a buck more a day than the average assembly line worker.

During the '50s and '60s, interest in the art of automotive pinstriping became extremely popular among enthusiasts who wanted to individualize or set apart their hot rods from others. It's said to have gained its initial popularity in California with a quite diverse selection of artists plying their craft on all manner of hot rods and show cars. Over time each artist developed their own unique style and with that a loyal following that shaped reputations and created a plethora of interesting stories and entertaining lore. As time passed and pinstriping grew in popularity, the art form spread from a more or less regional phenomenon to a hot-rod hallmark accepted across the country and the world. And, of course, as pinstriping's popularity grew, so did the number of artistically-inclined enthusiasts who began to lay lines on sheet metal.

I think it'd be pretty safe to say that most rodders have owned cars, trucks, and perhaps motorcycles that have been graced with a helping of pinstriping or lettering at one time or another. And it is just as likely that we've developed a preference for a particular style of adornment and/or a particular artist's work. I know that in my particular case I enlisted the talents of a local New England striper, a gent named Fred Luck, to stripe my first hot rod, and ended up using him exclusively for years after that. Since those days I've used the services of many different pinstripers and still find the process both entertaining and fascinating to watch

I recently had the good fortune to be introduced to a prominent member of the SoCal pinstriping fraternity during one of our many working lunches here at the STREET RODDER world headquarters (working lunch means our leader Brian Brennan picked up the tab, by the way). Brian has known Jeff "Styles" Overman for years and thought I'd enjoy the chance to meet him and talk striping. Well, Brian was correct and I really did enjoy myself. Jeff ended up being as friendly and informative as he is talented and, by the end of our lunch. "Styles" and I had made plans to meet at our Tech Center so I could watch as he laid a few lines on one of our project cars, and perhaps get a few pointers in the art while he was at it.

When I arrived a few days later I was pleasantly surprised to find that Styles was as excited at the prospect of teaching me a bit about striping as I was of having the chance at a bit of tutelage. In fact, Jeff had hit his Summit Racing catalog a few days beforehand and had ordered up a pinstriping teaching aid just for me! What he presented to me upon my arrival was the Kafka Pinstriping System (a great hands-on tutorial that includes everything a novice would need to be introduced to the art).

The following is some info and tips that Styles shared with me during the course of the afternoon. So follow along, it's pretty informative and great encouragement for those who may be inclined to give Pinstriping a try. We'll be back with a look at how to go about pinstriping a hot rod next month and then we'll follow up with a look at lettering and some faux patina striping, too

Jeff "Styles" began striping back in 1980 in Mesa, Arizona. He grew up watching his dad, Don, stripe and his curiosity got the best of him. So, his dad handed him a brush and some striping enamel and set him loose. From that day on Jeff began by striping his bicycle and anything else he could get his little 1 Shot-stained hands on

One day on his way home from school Jeff ran into the man who would become his mentor, Butch Tucker. Butch'r, as he's known, was and still is a master pinstriper and artist, learning the trade of pinstriping from the king of pinstriping himself, Kenneth "Von Dutch" Howard.

Butch'r took Jeff under his wing, passing on his wealth of experience and from there Styles' passion for fine lines grew. Styles moved to Southern California a few years later and continued plying his trade and expanding his following by promoting his talent by pinstriping (for free) at local body shops and car dealerships. wThose businesses quickly realized how gifted Styles was and requested his pinstriping on a more regular (and paying) basis. Thus the life of Styles was born.

Although the simple straight line striping jobs were consistent, Styles knew the brush had endless possibilities. Picking up custom techniques from different local painters proved to be key in the next few years. Like most artists, Styles had an eye for one thing in particular and that was flames. His days of doodling flames on all his school books had paid off. He'd mastered the art of flames-clean, sharp, stretched out flames outlined with a contrasting pinstripe. People saw and appreciated his style and the word spread quickly in the hot rod world.

Like Styles' dad, Jeff is in the process of passing along his talents to his own son, Logan. At age 11, Logan is a quick study, too, and is already layin' lines and developing his own unique style-talk about passing the torch.

Styles Pinstriping
Summit Racing Equipment
P.O. Box 909
OH  44309
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