A Barber Shaved a Portrait of Selena Into a Fan’s Hair and It’s Going Viral
If you’ve been on the internet in the past few days, chances are you’ve seen a crop of 3D celebrity portraits etched into the heads of some very cool people. Who’s the person raising the hair game to next level and then some? Rob Ferrel, aka Rob The Original who’s blowing up the internet right now with his totally unique approach to hair art. Whether it’s Tupac Shakur or Selena Quintanilla, the artist-cum-barber has pioneered his signature moves and carved out a whole new meaning to statement-making cuts.
“I see myself as a creative artist, and barbering is one of my art mediums,” Ferrel explains. As someone who was artistic from a young age, Ferrel combines his passion for drawing, graffiti, tattooing, and painting to inform his designs. When you add years of barbershop knowledge to the mix, you’re left with some seriously double tap-worthy hair. “Through evolving my style and approach, I’ve helped the barber industry transcend to be more about artistry so now there are barbers all around the world doing designs in their work.”
Riffing on those traditional sharp fades, edge-ups, tapers, and crispy designs, Ferrel made the scalp his canvas as a barber working out of San Antonio, Texas in 2006. “I wanted to challenge myself [so I] started doing more complex designs. This led to doing portraits — my first was of Tupac in 2008. And, once I started working this way, I had to develop my own techniques because I didn’t really have a role model for this kind of work. I mixed that with YouTube and social media and I quickly started getting known for my haircuts.”
Evolving his style and technique over time, today, Ferrel has mastered his own special sauce of intricate details, styles, and color elements. His latest creations play with 3D effects — something he’s been working with for a while but has made him go viral lately with his recent series of creations. “I did 3D a few years back, but I never really pushed it. Since I’m the innovator of hair portraits, I wanted to come out with something super fresh, so I started really focusing on the 3Ds and all the different effects it can achieve,” he explains.
He’s created a 3D Bob Marley with locs, Cardi B with long, pink hair, and even a 3D unicorn — some of his most recognizable and Instagrammable designs. “These are done sometimes using the model’s actual hair but if they don’t have hair to match it, I’ll add extensions that I make myself and glue them in with eyelash glue,” he shares. “I’ll also use eyeliner or brow pencil to add a little more shade and definition where it’s needed to give a more realistic, lifelike look.”
On getting inspired for his designs, he admits that he has help: “Me and my wife sit down and brainstorm ideas for what can we do next. The design process is based around creating content. People have seen a lot of the portraits so I want to give them something new, that’s exciting and different. We look at what’s relevant too — for example, the portrait I did of Ariana Grande when she was in the news for being the most followed female on Instagram.” He also loves doing his own passion projects; “I like to do legends. I’m a huge Bob Marley fan so he features a lot, and that’s why my first portrait was Tupac too.”
One of his latest IG posts is a design of the Backpack Kid that he created for his nephew. “The Backpack Kid contacted me as he’s a fan of my work and asked me to do a portrait of him. He lives in Atlanta and I’m in Texas, so I was like, I’m gonna go ahead and do a portrait on my nephew as he’s a huge fan. We had fun with it — in the video, he’s flossing. It’s exciting for me to think about inspiring the younger generation too.”