Mack Brush: Tools of The Trade Propelling Kustom Art Forward

By Jeff Alexander

Mack Brush continues to be deemed the ‘industry standard’ by pinstripers and kustom kulture artists. With a rich history dating back to its 1891 inception, Mack Brush has been embraced by the newest kustom kulture artists working to elevate the subculture while tirelessly pushing creative boundaries.

Chris Fast has served as president since 2013, stepping up after his father passed five years ago and with a deep routed passion for moto culture, Fast is confidently propelling Mack Brush forward.


“My father purchased the company in 1960 and worked it on weekends. I’ve always loved hot rods and moto culture and my father always took me to events. I was really impressed with the builds and the unique art designs I would see. What stuck with me was the community of people and I’ve been really lucky to have met such talented artists over the years, like Todd Hanson. I’ve known him since I was 15!” boasted Fast.

Kustom kulture has evolved from a niche subculture, where automotive industry execs once thought builders were bastardizing their vehicles, to an internationally recognized movement. Several original pinstriped art and kustom rides are now fetching top dollar at auctions, in marked contrast to how mainstream media first reacted to their debuts. Fast recalled how the once tight-knit community has been more welcoming to prospective artists, but he shared his initial concerns.

“I always love the community of it all, but things have changed. I remember how many artists sported ponytails and earrings and that gave way to tattoos and that as its own art form has taken off, which I think is great because it’s all art! When I was growing up, I became concerned that the whole art thing would slowly die out because so many of the original artists I had met were already getting up there in age and in the ‘90s I really didn’t see any younger people picking up the brush,” said Fast.


Mack Brush remains in a strong position to enable new artists to pick up the brush due to their intensely loyal following and the successful partnerships with respected kustom kulture artists that continue innovating the subculture.

“We drew a line in the sand and said ‘This is how we wanna do things.’ We would reach out to all the artists and ask them what was working, what wasn’t, and what they needed. It has created phenomenal relationships over the years and the signature brushes kind of serve as the marketing arm of the business, which some people have ripped me for online but I tune that noise out,” stated Fast.

Asked to expand on signature brushes and their contrast from standard products, Fast excitedly shared the differences.

“The neat part about signature brushes is that with such a minute modification, like moving the belly of the brush down can yield some really different impacts on the work by enabling a sharper line. This seemingly small change can make a significant impact on how an artist works and how they can successfully finish a specific project,” said Fast.

With the continued instant gratification and digital-first landscapes, is Fast concerned that interest in hands-on craftsmanship and the demand for unique, custom art will fade?


“No! I truly believe we live in an exciting time because I am still energized by the new art I am lucky enough to come across. When I see work from people like Darren McKeag, I feel it’s mind-blowing and inspiring. For the business side, we have something like a total of 1400 products, meeting the needs of so many diverse artists that have worked to create a livelihood out of this, and with that many products, I know there is continued demand. We actually hope to work with Darren in the future.”

He added, “Social media has actually had positive impacts because people are connected in unprecedented ways and can see art processes from A to Z as well have access to mentoring, which keeps everything going stronger. I actually feel mentorship and our community is going against the grain because as a whole, people need to care more, and with mentorship, that is helping, and these artists are so compelled to share their knowledge because they don’t wanna see any of this art form die.”

The global pandemic undeniably created unprecedented obstacles for businesses, with independent owners bearing the hardest repercussions and several dying out. Fast was adamant that the ‘cost of doing business now’ has forced everyone to reevaluate strategies while forcing decision-makers and officials under a bigger microscope. Fast shared his scrutiny of government policies. 

“I think it's ridiculous how hard policymakers make it for independent businesses. When I was younger and first got into the business, I was always anxious about where the orders were going to come from, and how many were going out. Today, I feel calmer about that because the loyal support from artists makes me confident that we’re still doing the right thing. Big businesses don’t place nearly enough emphasis on true customer service.”

Asked what future goals Mack Brush will be focused on, Fast reminded artists the company will work to elevate and maintain the quality of natural brushes. 

“Natural brushes are so important for artists but I have seen positive changes with synthetic brush quality. Looking at the costs of natural brushes, back then squirrel tails were not something the fur industry thought had value, and now? Squirrel tails are more expensive than the actual hair on the animal. The cost for red sable is now $1300 a pound, it was $800 not long ago. We know the value artists put on natural brushes and that will always be our focus,” stated Fast.

Fast added that despite the initial resistance toward synthetic brushes, manufacturers have shown improvement.

“Synthetic brushes years ago were horrible but people have really stepped up that quality. We’ll always focus on natural until for whatever reason we’re no longer able to use it, but I know we have options.” 


Mack Brush has earned a permanent place within the kustom kulture lexicon, with initial trailblazing artists utilizing them to create iconic designs that are still replicated. Today’s artists leverage the same tool as they work to perhaps create their own iconic styles that will define modern kustom kulture.

“We are beyond grateful for the loyal support and being able to still help artists that dedicated their lives to this. It can be funny how things work sometimes. Art and artists that were once panned are now seeing their work sell for a lot of money. I never thought the term ‘lowbrow’ was bad because it separated us from other things that were hoity-toity, which did nothing for me. I find our subculture more accessible and enjoyable,” concluded Fast.

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