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Meet the Brains Behind the Magazine

Owner of Airbrush the Magazine, Don Johnson managed to pin down our Editor Lynda. The issue is due to be published in March 2019. 

The origins of Pinstriping & Kustom Magazine started back in London, 1998. Having met my husband Kris, who was an artist, we decided to head to the bright lights of London town to start our lives together.

Kris bought his first motorbike and soon became a member of the renowned Ace Café. Having signed up to their newsletter, we came across an article on a guy known as Weirdo, feted as one of the only Pinstripers in UK.

Suddenly, Kris had a huge outburst: “He is not the only Pinstriper, I’m one too.” I just looked mystified and asked: “you’re a what?” and that was my first introduction into the world of Pinstriping.

After an intense, but short education into the art form, we set up a MySpace page to try and get Kris’s artwork out into the online world, as there was obviously no Facebook back then. As all interfering wives do, I built the website with the aim of getting people to mire his work. However, all the enquires were people asking: ‘how do I get started doing this myself?’ ‘Where do I get the brushes from, and what equipment do I need?’.

Of course, we dutifully answered the enquiries, and after a while it dawned on us that there was an opportunity to start a small business. It was a lightbulb moment and we realised we could start supplying these elusive products that everybody wanted to get their hands on.

So, from the cupboard under the stairs, Pinstriping UK born. My husband, Kris ‘PuK’ Johnson and I then began taking products to as many of the rod runs we could find. Kris soon became one of the most prolific Pinstripers around.

Our success even took us to Las Vegas, to one of the early Airbrush Getaways – organized by Airbrush Action. The trip was incredible, and it was where Kris first met Steve Chasyke and learnt how to teach beginners to pinstripe. He taught well over 1000 people at home in the UK how to pinstripe, and some of the most renowned pinstripers of today say they started due to his course and the starter kits we pioneered.

So where does the magazine come into the story? Well, as I was learning so much about this wonderful world and our customers wanted to broaden their knowledge, I started an email newsletter for our customer base. Just under a year, the newsletter had transformed into a 32-page PDF document including hints and tips, showcasing Kris’ latest work and new products.

It was around this time that I was hit by the first of my eye problems. I discovered I had a hole in my retina and macular problems, and I was only in my early 50s. Everything was incredibly distorted, and my depth perception was shot.

Soon after, my full-time job made me redundant and we decided to move out of London, and head more North to be closer to the shows we loved going to.

We eventually ended up in Leicester in 2005, with a fairly substantial redundancy package and a huge dilemma. Should we turn the newsletter into a bone fide magazine or just kill off the newsletter completely?

Having worked in publishing for most of my life, from Yellow Pages to London’s prestigious Living South Magazine, I knew it wouldn’t be a huge leap. It was then, in March 2006 that our first volume was printed.

Initially, I was the publisher, editor, advertising manager but did not have any graphic design skills whatsoever. I can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler, so pulled in some favours and out-sourced the design.

After becoming tired of resting my feet on stock boxes, in 2007 we decided to take the plunge to move to a new warehouse unit, which is the office we still occupy. Over the years, my role has changed with each new addition to our staffing. Nigel Hewitt, who has been with me almost 9 years, looks after our advertising and Debs Tetlow, keeps our finances under control. My graphics is now dealt within house, as I’m a control freak but the magazine has weathered three recessions over the last 12 years, and we are still here.

Unfortunately, my optical problems returned in 2010. My other retina shredded and needed to be buckled together and caused further macular problems. I’m now registered blind/severely sight impaired, but I get by. I live with grants, a sighted assistant in the office, and lots of magnifiers and I keep on doing what I love best.

PKG is a great vehicle, which incorporates everything from airbrush, tattoo, pinstriping, lettering, lowbrow art, and we have seen tonnes of bodypainters too. We are a hybrid, and proud of it. Kustom art comes in many forms and we like to showcase the adaptability of the art form. It can come in paint, sculptures, metal and evern leatherwork. The magazine is now available all over the world, either directly from our unit in Leicester or via out growing independent news outlets and dealers. It’s certainly not easy running a niche market magazine.

Unfortunately, Kris no longer stripes. In 2010, he was diagnosed with Dementia and has sadly forgotten how. But he was the inspiration and catalyst for both PKG and our annual kustom culture show Pinstriping UK was sold, and is now operated by AS Handover Ltd, so his legacy still remains.

We are a very different magazine, embracing and exploring many genres. I choose to stay quietly behind the scenes, researching all the new wonderful talent emerging around the globe. 2019 marks not only our 12thanniversary, but the addition to our team with Steve Chaszeyka too.

Our move to digital now brings hundreds of new readers each month, and we can be found at Magzter and Readly.

So now, I’ve recently reduced my office hours so I can spend time looking after Kris, but my passion still remains for providing a platform for artists to showcase their work both in print, and at the show. I’m definitely not slowing down yet, physically maybe so, but I have no plans to retire for a long time yet.

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