No 'ordinary barber'

In Christchurch, Matt Brown is a cut above.

The Aranui barber's creative and complex hair designs, which include cartoon characters and the Christ Church Cathedral, are winning him acclaim and a steadily expanding list of customers in the Garden City.

Brown opened his My Father's Barbers salon last March, after a trade qualification in joinery failed to keep his interest.

Talent with the clippers is in his blood, with his father and brothers cutting his hair when he was growing up.

''It was just something that caught on: I cut all my mates' hair in the 'hood, and it started from there,'' Brown said.

He discovered his passion for portraits and designs after seeing similar work from people around the world and decided to test himself.

''I thought, 'I don't want to be an ordinary barber or I'll get bored really fast," so I thought I'd push my craft to the limit and see what I could do with it'.''

The salon's name was a tribute to Brown's faith, after a man running a boy's home took him from a life as ''one of those kids on the streets'' and encouraged him to make the most of his talents.

''God pretty much saved my life. That's why I call it My Father's Barber, because he gave me the gift.''

He uses a freestyle approach with his cuts, with an image of the design on his iPhone the only guide as he snips and shaves.

Most portraits took up to an hour to complete, with the Mona Lisa his most challenging design to date.

Rappers were in high demand, with the late Tupac Shakur the most popular figure.

Brown's popularity means he is now turning away up to 50 people a day. He and his business partner are opening a new salon at Woolston precinct The Tannery.

The Press