Li Hailing, a barber from Lingbao, in central China’s Henan province, uses leftovers from his day job to fuel his real passion – art. He collects the hair that he cuts at his salon and, in his spare time, arranges the thousands of strands to create stunningly-realistic celebrity portraits.
Li, whose inspiration comes from sand painting, uses the same techniques for his hair paintings – he sprinkles hair onto a canvas with his hands and arranges them until recognizable portraits emerge. There is no glue involved, so the hair can all be blown off with a simple swift wave of the hand, leaving nothing behind on the canvas. Li photographs each piece of hair art before he destroys it and moves on to the next. It takes him a minimum of two hours to finish each hair painting.
According to Li, the best kind of hair to use for portraits comes from men with extremely short locks. The shaved hair is tiny, almost dust-like, and perfect for sprinkling with the fingers. Some of his notable portraits are of Marilyn Monroe and famous Chinese painter Qi Baishi Li, but he’s also made 3D drawings of spiders and waterfalls . He’s currently working on a new creation – a landscape hair painting of Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
Li Hailiang isn’t the first artist to use hair as a medium for artistic portraits. Colombian-American artist Mateo Blanco has created a collection of celebrity portraits using curly dog hair.