News/Blog Breaking news, exclusive features & artist interviews

Interview by: Monday 1 July 2019
Share this story

Shawn Barber - The Tattooed Portraits Series

Born 1970 in Cortland, New York, Shawn Barber currently lives and practices in Los Angeles, California. He has forged an international reputation over a number of years as a contemporary artist specializing in painting and portraiture with a particular focus on documenting tattoo culture.

Shawn is a dedicated tattooist and has taught painting professionally since 2000. In 'The Tattooed Portraits Series', Shawn has created an homage and study of modern tattooing through painting portraits of tattooists and artists, tattooist's at work, their tools and environments.

His paintings are held in private collections throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Among his extensive achievements, he has taught drawing, painting and the business of art since 2000 at various art schools, workshops and institutions throughout the world. After years of documenting the art of tattoo, it was a logical progression to pick up the tattoo machine and add tattooist to his resume.

In 2009, Shawn and his girlfriend Kim Saigh opened Memoir Tattoo in Los Angeles, CA. His most recent fine art book, 'Memoir: The Tattooed Portraits Series' a 256 page hardcover visual tome, published by Last Gasp Books, was released in July 2012.

Shawn's signature brushwork has appeared in advertising, music, magazines, children's books, corporate, entertainment and newspapers. Particularly recognized for his portrait work, he has been honored by American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, RSVP, and The Artist's Magazine among others. 

'I've been documenting tattoo culture and contemporary tattoo history with a series of paintings, The Tattooed Portraits Series.

I started painting tattooed artists in 2005, obsessively documenting the men and women that define contemporary tattoo art. My dedication and enthusiasm for the art form gradually opened doors for me to learn the craft from some of the greatest tattoo artists in the world. My life is consumed with tattooing, the art of tattoo and documentation of tattooing through painting works on this subject. Presently, over three hundred and fifty works have been made in this series. 

For the London Convention this September 2019, I will be presenting several new paintings in The Tattooed Portraits Series. Recent works include portraits of legendary tattooists Lyle Tuttle, Doc Price, Tin-Tin; Filip Leu and Vlady at Work, and Alexandre Abreu in Motion.'

View Shawn Barber's 'Tattooed Portraits' series at The London Tattoo Convention, September 27-28-29th. You can also participate in Shawn's painting workshops - click for more details

Doc Price by Shawn Barber

Doc Price by Shawn Barber

Alexandre Abreu in Motion by Shawn Barber

Alexandre Abreu in Motion by Shawn Barber

Hands (Doc Price) by Shawn Barber

Hands (Doc Price) by Shawn Barber