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Automotive Artist Profile: Pinstripe Chris

Back in the early 2010s I went to a Ford car show at the famous Carlisle Fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The location hosts many of the East Coast’s finest car shows. While there, I came across a marker car. That is a car, in this case, a Ford Mustang, that had been decorated in marker art. The artwork covered the top surfaces of the car. It was eye-grabbing and I found out the artwork was done by Chris Dunlop. So, I began to research a little about him and even reached out to him. This is what I discovered and what he discussed with me, not just about the Mustang, but about his career as an Automotive Artist.

A white Ford Mustang has marker art on all the horizontal surfaces.
A Ford Mustang with marker artwork by Automotive Artist Chris Dunlop | Bethany Eteeyan

Drawing as long as he can remember

Mr. Dunlop does not remember when he began drawing. He just always did for as long as he can remember. He loves cars and always drew them as a hobby. But, his first commissioned drawing came in middle school for a teacher. It was also of a Mustang.

“I later became an automotive painter, which led to airbrushing, then pinstriping, then marker art, then ultimately to automotive illustration. Every tool and technique I learned from every point along the way is something that shaped the technique and process I now use to create artwork. Interestingly, I never imagined one leading to or helping with the next, but I am glad that’s the way it worked out.”

A classic silver Camaro with black marker artwork over the body panels.
Classic 1970 Drag Pack Camaro with marker artwork by Automotive Artist Chris Dunlop | Chris Dunlop

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Evidently Mr. Dunlop became pretty good, earning himself the name Pinstripe Chris. Although the moniker calls out his talent regarding pinstriping, he has not pigeonholed his talent into that specialty alone. He has been able to experiment and perfect other specialties.

The Art of Marker Cars

Marker cars are one of those specialties. Mr. Dunlop sees marker cars as opportunities to use the car itself as the canvas. His intent is ultimately to make the customer and himself happy. But, his work process and finished pieces have thrilled thousands of people. Yahoo did a piece on a Mustang he did and that added to his fandom immediately. More commissioned work sprung from that. Eventually, Fiat called on Mr. Dunlop to come to their booth at a car show and create one of his masterpieces on a Fiat 124 Spyder. He has also received commissions from Sharpie and Toyota as well.

A Camaro with marker artwork by Automotive Artist Chris Dunlop | Chris Dunlop

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In addition to marker cars, Mr. Dunlop also continues to draw automotive-themed pieces daily. He does anything from a sketch to complete pieces of automotive art that he sells off from his website. But, he is so good, that on his Facebook page somebody once accused him of posting somebody else’s artwork. So, in a classy move, Mr. Dunlop did not argue endlessly with the person. Instead, he chronicled the development of a few of his art pieces on YouTube so that there would be no doubt of the origin of his work. One of his videos is below.

Renderings of project cars

Clients also reach out to Mr. Dunlop for conceptual ideas. For example, people have reached out to him to draw their project car or truck with different mods. It helps the owners see if their ideas will work before they actually cut into the vehicle and potentially spend tens of thousands of dollars. So, Mr. Dunlop will do a rendering for them based on the ideas the owners convey to him.

I asked him how he would encourage other young artists. He said,

“If you are passionate about it don’t hold back and don’t wait for motivation or opportunities. Dive right in! We only have a limited amount of time to leave our mark on the world and we don’t get that back. So, don’t wait for when the time is right. Do it now! And, practice like crazy! Even though I do artwork for a living, I still do a practice piece or two every single day just to keep the rhythm of what I do going and as an opportunity to try new things and materials. If you wait until you are inspired to draw or paint, you will always be waiting.”