Man Up: Artfully Designed

Nowadays, if there’s a huge crowd forming around an artist at a hair show, there’s a pretty good chance it’s a barber creating hair art. Detailed hair designs are blowing up on social media. Movie producers are requesting hair designs for their actors. And young barbers are clamoring to learn the art form. The reason? More and more male clients want to express themselves with hair art. These gifted barbers are on the top of their hair-art game. 

Kenny Duncan @clipperedu, Lead Andis Educator 

Doing hair designs lets me flex my creative muscles. When you finish a design it’s soul satisfying. Recently, I did a Prince memorial design. He was a generational talent and an inspiration to so many people. It felt good giving him a nod in my own personal way. The cool thing about hair designs is that you use all the same techniques that you would use to execute a typical cut, just in smaller, more detailed ways. There are always three layers to a design: highlights, mid-tones and shadows. For the highlights, you need to close or even bald down to the skin. I’ll use my Andis T-Outliner T-Blade Trimmer to get close and finish with an Andis ProFoil Lithium Titanium Foil Shaver on the skin-tight areas. On the mid-tones, you’re looking at variations of shading and highlighting from dark to light. Here, I would use the Andis Slimline Pro Li T-Blade Trimmer, which is my go-to for design work. Finally, for the shadows, you’re really sculpting the existing hair and cutting it to a length that gives you the darkness and sharpness your design needs.

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Dennis Joseph @dennisjosephbabyliss, Jr. Master, BaBylissPRO Artistic Team

There are different types of artists—some like to do black and white drawings, and others like to do oil paintings—hair is my artistic medium of choice. Hair art is a way to differentiate myself and express the art that I love to do, which is geometric patterns. People come to shows after seeing my work online, and they’re always requesting my cube design. It’s something I did in elementary school, drawing those little 3-D cubes. As I got older, I saw the pattern in geometry books, tiles, furniture, everywhere—the symmetry of the cubes just inspired me. After awhile I drew the design on black paper with a white Sharpie, helping me understand the negative spacing. Then I transferred it onto someone’s head. Now, it’s my signature design.

Miguel Rosas @newstyle84, Member Wahl Education and Artistic Team (W.E.A.T.)

I started doing hair designs in 2008 when I opened my barbershop. First I was doing basic designs, like swirls. Then I pushed myself with sketches I did on paper and moved up to realistic portraits. In 2011, I entered my first barber battle. Since then I’ve won over 25 barber battle awards. But my big break came when I did a portrait design of Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta on a fan right before the playoffs. I was able to leave the client’s hair longer in the area where Arrieta’s beard was, making the hair art look 3-D and very realistic. When the cut went up on social media it quickly went viral. The Cubs even took note and I got to meet Arrieta himself. Just making a fan happy with my art helped me receive national attention.

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