If Shawn Barber's tattoos weren't impressive enough, his paintings are even more mind-blowing. An oil painting portrait, back in the day, was a means to honor and exalt a personality — for example every politician and member of royalty ever. By painting tattoo artists, Barber is using this classic method as a means to raise these folks up as royalty themselves.
The sheer number of tattooists that Barber has painted is beyond astonishing. He stylizes them based on their personalities; each one of these portraits gives us a glimpse into sort of people that these tattooists are or were. He captures their demeanors with a photographic precision but also backgrounds them in a way that gives them an emotional atmosphere or a sense of attitude.
These paintings show Barber's passion for the the art of tattooing as well as his undying appreciation for the pioneers that made the industry what it is today. The amount of effort and time that goes into creating these portraits is more than considerable, each one takes months to create. First he has to make the initial iteration of the painting, which can take weeks. The portrait of Tyler Borich is 11 days into its creation, and in its caption Barber says, "About a month and a half of work left to go. Let it dry, sand areas; re-paint and render areas; some blazing and cast shadows and some re-drawing and adjusting focal points with color and value."
If you want to see more of Barber's impressive portraits of other tattooists as well as some of the body art that he makes, peruse his Instagram, which is a virtual museum because of how prolific he is. Lastly, he works at Memoir Tattoo in Los Angeles, California should you want a tattoo from him.