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Kenneth Robert Howard (September 7, 1929–September 19, 1992), also known as Dutch, Von Dutch, or J. L. Bachs (Joe Lunch Box), was a motorcycle mechanic, artist, pinstriper, metal fabricator, knifemaker and gunsmith. His father, Wally Howard, was a Los Angeles sign painter; and, by the age of ten, the young Kenny Howard was able to paint and letter at a professional level. The "Von Dutch" nickname was intended to mean "stubborn as a Dutchman", though von is German for "of", not Dutch – the Dutch cognate is van.
In the early 1950s he started earning money by doing striping along with fellow striper Dean Jeffries. Von Dutch has been a major influence in the customizing of vehicles from the 1950s to today. Some of his famous works include the flying eyeball and the custom Kenford truck, along with numerous custom motorcycles and many award-winning custom cars. Among many custom car and motorcycle enthusiasts, he is thought of as one of the fathers of Kustom Kulture.
In 1979, Von Dutch completed pin striping the well known "Blue Velvet" Pontiac Firebird, which is complete with two perfectly parallel pin stripes 16 and a half feet long down each side of the vehicle. These pin stripes were completed by hand and attained a level of perfection that gave rise to the legend of Von Dutch as a pin striper.
Von Dutch's lifelong alcoholism led to major medical issues later in life. He died on September 19, 1992 from alcohol-related complications, leaving behind his two daughters, Lisa and Lorna. His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
Von Dutch Originals, LLC
Von Dutch is now an American multinational brand licensing company named after Kenny Howard. Considering that the Von Dutch name is now a lucrative, licensed brand, it's ironic that Kenny Howard had famously stated: "Use any of my stuff you want to. Nothing is original. Everything is in the subconscious, we just "tap" it sometimes and "think" we have originated something. Genes make us more or less interested in certain things but nothing is truly [sic] original! Copyright and patents are mostly an ego trip."
- Koch, Richard; Tony Thacker (2007). Sundays with Von Dutch. Osceola, Wis: Motorbooks. ISBN 0-7603-2626-6.