SHAOXING, China (Reuters) – Wang Jianfeng is no ordinary barber. The 39-year-old from Shaoxing in eastern China specializes in sculpting images of famous faces on to the backs of his clients’ heads.
From the likes of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong to KFC’s Colonel Sanders, to 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.
Since completing his first hair sculpting piece in 2015, Wang has steadily gained a loyal following.
His work has become 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.
“Serving the people is my motto,” Shi beamed, quoting the former Chinese leader himself.
“I feel like the image of the renminbi note is sculpted on my head,” Shi added, 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 on his head “means that I can be 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 on to clients’ heads.
The rest of the time, when not running his barbershop business, Wang does hair art for around 8 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 art cut takes Wang roughly an hour to complete and grows out after around a week.
“I hope hair sculpting can be considered as a normal haircut and accepted by more hair stylists and customers,” Wang said.
Writing by Xihao Jiang and Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by Nick Macfie