With the steadiness and precision of a surgeon wielding a scalpel, Bob Bond’s 65-year-old hands drew his pin striping brush along the side of a Model A coupe in a line so straight it could have been laid down with a laser. No masking tape, no do-overs, just a perfect line a couple of feet long. Sometimes, in a bit of showmanship, he looks away to chat with a bystander without ever lifting his brush.
Bond grew up in Venice, Calif. While attending college he interviewed with Disney and Hanna-Barberra for a career in animation but found little demand so he chose technical illustration. He worked for ITT, Boeing and Hughes Aircraft in the late 1960s but he was bored.
“I had a light blue Volkswagen station wagon,” he said. “I taped off half of it and began playing with the striping brush. I used the wrong paint and didn’t know what I was doing.” But he learned control of the brush and started striping Volkswagen Beetles at local dealerships. “Bugs were the easiest cars to stripe because the grooves in the hood were easy to follow with a brush,” he said.
Bond opened a studio in 1970 and began striping for top restoration shops such as Hill and Vaughn Restorations (Phil Hill was a Formula One Champion in 1961), customizer George Barris, several Hollywood personalities and prestigious museums such as the Nethercutt Museum. J.B. Nethercutt, one of the owners of Merle Norman cosmetics, used to watch with great fascination as Bond would stripe a car for him. One day Bond said, “The reason you like to watch me stripe is because it’s like putting eyeliner on a girl before you take her picture.”
In 1996, Bond and his family left California and moved to Lee’s Summit, creating positive changes for his family because they are closer to their roots. His father was from Arkansas.
In many ways, Bond is a Renaissance man who has mastered several skills. He sold computerized striping designs back in the 1970s and learned to cut complicated design templates out of vinyl using a computer and large plotter so he could paint conversion vans in half the time. He also learned to silk-screen t-shirts and worked with the first company to print photos on t-shirts for the LA Lakers.
Bond loves to teach and has been instrumental in encouraging other stripers to share their talents. He founded the Pinheads Pinstriper’s Association in 1992 and today, at many car shows, you can see its members striping items to be auctioned off for charity. Bond once received $3,600 for a toilet seat he striped as an Ed “Big Daddy” Roth tribute. Over the years the group has donated about $2 million to charity.
Because he wants to “save the art” and keep it alive, Bond and his wife, Jennifer, have, for 15 years, produced AutoArt International Magazine “devoted to the entire art form of vehicle decorating and more.” Visit bobbondart.com to see examples of his work.
“I want other people to do what I do and make a living,” he said. “The more you give, the more you get.”