Hair artist shows how

Fancy a portrait of the Mona Lisa shaved into your tresses? No masterpiece is too challenging for a creative Christchurch barber who has attracted a worldwide following for his talent for hair artistry.

Christchurch's Matt Brown, trading under the moniker My Father's Barbers, is a whiz with the clippers.

With less than a year's experience under his belt, he has gained an online fanbase for his painstakingly crafted works of art, shaven into his clients' hairdos.

A Palmerston North salon has played host to his first tutorial.

Central city salon Spectra owner Gabrielle Bundy-Cooke's team received a schooling in shaving design yesterday from the barber who counts Crusaders rugby players among his clientele.

Mr Brown's father was a barber, as his business's name suggests, and he learned his trade at home with experience in carpentry honing his skills.

Word of his business spread so fast since he first took up clippers in March last year that he has been forced to turn away up to 30 clients a day from his shed.

And like any salon worth its salt, Mr Brown's service also doubles as a confessional.

"Some men gossip but I'm more interested in what's happening in their lives," he said.

"In New Zealand we have this culture that real men who play rugby don't cry. But in my shed they cry."

A likeness of late American rapper Tupac Shakur has proven the most popular design.

Mr Brown estimates he has shaven as many as 50 portraits of the late hip-hop artist into his clients' hair.

Pictures of his designs on Facebook have attracted about 6000 followers - his repertoire includes animals, celebrities, and even Christ Church Cathedral.

His technique is simply "copy, copy, copy", he says.

The left-handed barber shaves from scratch without drawing a template on his clients' heads, using only an iPhone held in his free hand to refer to the images he wants to recreate.

Christchurch schoolgirl Oceana Olsen is one of his muses.

The 9-year-old Rihanna fan who dreams of a singing career has worn the words "Diva" and "God" in her hairdo, and sports a leopard print pattern in her bob.

"I got it because I wanted to be different and because everybody else has the same long hair, but I wanted to have a different style," she said.

Oceana's mother, Sarah Jamieson, is the other half of My Father's Barbers.

The pair plan to extend the business this year, with new premises in Woolston on the cards and the acquisition of seven new barbers who will be specially trained to meet demand.

Manawatu Standard