In automotive body work, pinstripes 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 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 is traditionally 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 pin striper.
While stripers such as Von Dutch (Kenny Howard) and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth are possibly the best known early practitioners of ‘modern’ pinstriping, many of the early stripers cite Tommy “The Greek” Hrones and Dean Jeffries as their major influences.
Pinstriping is still practiced at shops around the world, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars still pinstripes the “coachline” of that company’s cars by hand.