Shawn Barber is a Californian artist who is celebrated for his paintings of tattooed people (you can see a selection of these paintngs on Mayhem and Muse). For many years, Barber documented the art of tattooing through his tattoo portraits, creating a visual diary of body art. Finally he decided to turn his artistic talents to the art tattooing and picked up a tattoo machine. Here’s some of Shawn Barber’s tattoo art:
Traditional Art and Tattoo Designs
“Fine art” is a term that applies to traditional art creation methods such as painting or sculpture. Fine art is what is most often displayed in art galleries. Body art techniques like tattooing don’t fall into this category of fine art as the art works can’t be displayed in a gallery, nor can the tattoo art be sold (unless you sold the entire person along with the tattoo, but that would amount to human slavery and would probably be frowned upon by most people.) Tattoo art is a lot more personal than fine art, because the design is chosen by the client and then worn by them for the rest of their lives.
Traditional artists have more freedom in their designs than tattoo artists do. A tattoo artist often has to work within the bounds of what the client wants. After all, it is the client who will wear the tattoo design for the rest of their life so it is their choice what type of art they will wear. Traditional painters also have the luxury of simply painting over an area if they make a mistake, whereas tattoo artists only have one chance to get it right. There are a few tricks that tattoo artists can employ to cover up areas of the tattoo that didn’t turn out too great, but often these tricks don’t add to the overall design because they disrupt the balance and cohesion of the original artwork.
Picking up a tattoo gun probably seemed the most natural, logical step for painter Shawn Barber, as he had painted so many portraits of tattooed clients in the past. By documenting this form of body art, Barber placed himself on the periphery of the tattoo industry from where he could only admire and comment on the tattoo art of other artists. Finally, he decided to turn his hand to the art of tattoo.
Painter of Tattoos become Creator of Tattoos
Shawn Barber seems to be experimenting with a wide variety of styles. Whether he wants to be a versatile tattoo artist that can ink any design a client wants, or a tattoo artist that has his own style is unclear. So far every style of tattoo design that Barber has tried has turned into an exceptional art work under his creative hands. His use of color balance within his designs reveals Shawn Barber’s experience and training as an artist, adding to the quality of the finished tattoo.
In 2009, Shawn Barbers and his girlfriend Kim Saigh opened their own tattoo parlor, Memoir Tattoo in Los Angeles, California. It is from here that Shawn Barber creates his exceptional body art works, delighting dozen of customers each year. From traditional painting to tattooing, Shawn Barber has proven himself a versatile and talented artist. Visit Shawn Barber’s website for more info and contact details.
Barber has some interesting theories about life and what makes one person happier or more successful than another. As he says on his site, “We do what we have to, to get by. it’s too easy to give up right away. anything that is worthwhile takes time, patience and an open mind. life is not perfect and you will definitely have down times, that’s part of it. what separates the successful people and the ones still working at coffee shops (i’ve had my share) is the belief in what you’re doing. as long as you’re true to yourself and believe in what you’re doing- you will become successful.”