By: Paige Hubbard
Wang Jianfeng is no ordinary barber. The 39-year-old from Shaoxing in eastern China specializes in sculpting images of famous faces onto the backs of his clients’ heads.
From the likes of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong to soccer players like David Beckham and film stars such as Bruce Lee and Jean Reno, Wang can do them all.
Inspired by a video he saw online of renowned U.S. hair artist Rob Ferrel, who creates portraits of celebrities on his clients’ scalps, Wang wanted to do the same for Chinese men with his clippers.
Since completing his first hair sculpting piece in 2015, Wang has steadily gained a loyal following.
His work became so popular that clients have traveled from neighboring provinces and cities to get their hair sculpted by Wang.
“It’s a form of art,” Wang said. “It comes from life but it is also beyond life.”
Shi Like, a 30-year-old delivery worker, is one of Wang’s regulars whose previous hair art designs of choice include one of Salvador Dali’s distinctive mustache.
When Reuters visited Wang’s barbershop, Shi opted for Chairman Mao to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
“I feel like the image of the renminbi note is sculpted on my head,” Shi said, laughing to himself.
Another of Wang’s regulars, 28-year-old Zhai Rubin, was visibly delighted to be getting a cut of one of his idols – former England soccer player David Beckham.
Having Beckham’s image “means that I can be as fashionable as him,” said Zhai.
Wang spends two weeks each month on the road, giving lessons around the country to barbers and hair stylists at major high street salon chains on how to sculpt basic patterns onto clients’ heads.
The rest of the time, when not running his barbershop business, Wang does hair art for around eight to 10 clients each month.
Clients are charged 200 yuan ($30) for each piece of hair art which is the same price as a normal haircut at Wang’s barbershop. A single hair sculpting takes Wang roughly an hour to complete and grows out after around a week.
And the ingenious barber was already thinking of how else to challenge himself.
“Because I really like playing basketball, I want to try to present more people together on the same image. So I want to cut an image of the five characters from Slam Dunk (Japanese basketball manga) together,” Wang said.