‘It ignites a fire and makes it go further with that student’
Teacher’s talent for pinstriping gains attention, sponsorship
by Matthew Strother News editor
Callaway High School art teacher Clint Robinson’s room is decorated and customized, displaying his and his students’ art on walls, chairs, tables and even the TV and a telephone.
One style that pops up on most of the items in his room are pinstripes, elaborate, symmetrical designs that adorn almost every item in the room. His pinstriped telephone, “the phone to Jesus,” is a popular one during test time. Pinstripe designs adorn canvases, press board, a vinyl record, even a cow skull in his room.
Robinson has made a name for himself outside of Callaway’s art class as a pinstripe artist, painting custom pieces for cars, trucks, motorcycles and about anything else people commission him for. The skill required lots of practice for Robinson to master, and now he teaches any students interested in the re-emerging art.
“The biggest skill is learning how to keep the design symmetrical and lines consistent in width, keep the design flowing in and out from side to side,” Robinson said. “It was big in the custom car and custom motorcycle culture, then they came out with vinyl signs and stickers and it died off, but there’s been a big resurgence. Now people are starting to seek out handmade signs, pinstripe designs and things like that.”
Pinstriping was innovated in the 1950s by artist Kenneth Howard, better known as Von Dutch, as a variation on race striping when he was asked to cover a paint blemish. It took off in popularity, but the advent of pre-made decals seemingly made it obsolete.
Pinstriping is characterized by symmetrical lines and designs that accent its canvas and is traditionally broken into two styles, dagger and scroll. Dagger style consists of very angular and pointy lines, while the scroll style is very curvilinear and elegant in nature.
Robinson said he first gave pinstriping a try when he was young, but wasn’t able to figure it out. He later gave it another try after building a custom motorcycle.
Pleased with his results on the bike, Robinson decided to focus on trying to perfect the craft when his wife was pregnant. Feeling he would need to be home more to help with his daughter, he decided to work on pinstriping as a hobby to keep him occupied.
After countless hours of practice to get the intricate design schemes down, Robinson finally found his comfort zone with the craft. Later inspired by his daughter, who has Down syndrome, to participate in a charity auction to benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, Robinson made connections with representatives from 1 Shot Paint and Mack Brush, which led to him being sponsored by the companies.
The companies provided more than $1,000 in supplies last year to Robinson’s art class. He said his is the only high school class sponsored by 1 Shot.
Students in Robinson’s class use the paints for various projects, including service projects like a “Welcome to Hogansville” sign for the city. Teaching pinstriping doesn’t always catch on with his students, though.
“Almost all of them are really interested in it when they see it, and see me do it, but only a few get into it,” Robinson said. “Last year I had a senior who finished all his art classes, so I got him in as an independent study, and all he did was pinstripe every day. We’d go line for line and match each other, and at one point, we had trouble distinguishing one from the other.”
Even if it doesn’t take off with all his students, Robinson said many people in the custom painting and pinstriping industry have told him that his teaching the art form, which is only starting to regain traction, is a good step forward.
“Everybody I tell in the industry about it is pretty jazzed about me teaching pinstriping in a modern-day classroom,” Robinson said. “This was a thing that, in the ’50s and ’60s, people may get a little at design schools. As far as that particular art form, now they have specialized classes sporadically around country. The art form originated in us, but now it’s global, more than just cars and bikes … I’ve painted everything you can imagine, from prosthetics, cell phones, bowling pins, skulls …”
His connection with 1 Shot led Robinson recently to be invited to conduct a teaching in residency this spring at Bayou Woods Elementary in Slidell, La. He will demonstrate pinstriping and provide examples of his work and those created by CHS students and other professionals. Paint for the day will be provided by 1 Shot.
Robinson said he was proud that he is well known enough for his pinstriping techniques to be asked to teach others about it. He said he likes the opportunity to share something he is passionate about, especially when the students share a passion to learn about it.
“It ignites a fire and makes it go further with that student,” Robinson said. “Teaching them, and going one on one with them, and painting with them is fun.”
Pinstriping also has become an outlet for Robinson, allowing him to alleviate his frustrations, but he is excited to share his craft. He likes that appreciation for hand-crafted art and items is coming back into style and hopes one day more people will understand the beauty in the craft.
More information on Robinson, examples of his art and support of Down syndrome research may be found at clintjustinrobinson.com.
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