Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ROCKIN' with esteemed pinstriper Herb Martinez at the Grand National

Herb Martinez and I shared the "Battle of the Hot Rod Books" booth at the Grand National Roadster Show. I figger we met about 5,000 people between us.

Herb was autographing his two books: PINSTRIPE PLANET (Motorbooks) and HERB MARTINEZ'S GUIDE TO PINSTRIPING (Krause Publications). The first introduces you to the world of pinstripers, from historic figures like Tommy the Greek (Herb's mentor), Ed Roth, Von Dutch, and Dean Jeffries, to currently well established names like Jimmy C, "Wildman" Ishii, Makoto, and Neil Meillard, and young turks like Dirty Donny, Simon Watts, and Skratch--to name only a few.

GUIDE TO PINSTRIPING is long overdue. Until now, it was difficult to find even a classic guide on the subject. Now, it's a matter only of how confident you are--are you willing to take up 'dances with brushes'?

Herb has been pinstriping vehicles for decades, having learned his trade during a long apprenticeship with some of the best customizers in both Northern and Southern California. He grew up in Oakland, CA and at age 12 a neighbor showed him how to hold a pinstriping brush. His first official work began at the Oakland Roadster Show in 1960.

I should add that Herb and I formally met at the TRPS rock art show, where we both realized we were kindred spirits. My ART OF ROCK has been a bible for him ever since it was published in 1987. Both of us are unabashed fans of the great pen-wielders like Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, David Singer, and Victor Moscoso

Hundreds of people watched Herb in action this past weekend, pinstriping cars like this one owned by Rich Guasco. "Pure Hell" is a 1929 roadster which won the prestigious "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" award in 1961. The name also is synonymous with Guasco's other drag racing cars. This one's painted in 'Pure Hell Purple,' and was aching for a master prinstriping.

My Dad, book designer Philip Grushkin, was a revered calligrapher. I watched him execute exquisite lines throughout his life. Not very different from pinstriping. The thing I learned about watching both my Dad and Herb perform their eye-to-brain-to-hand magic is . . . it's all about an understanding of zen.

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