Among Mexican-Americans, Selena Quintanilla, known simply as Selena, was a heroine. Despite dying in tragic circumstances almost 24 years ago, she is still idolized by millions of fans. Therefore, it is no surprise that among other things, she is still inspiring hairstyles.
The latest is an amazing creation by barber/artist Rob Ferrel, aka Rob The Original, from San Antonio, Texas, three hours from Selena's hometown of Lake Jackson. The 3D rendition of the Queen of Tejano music Ferrel carved into a fan's head has gone viral.
“I see myself as a creative artist, and barbering is one of my art mediums,” says Ferrel, who has merged his love of drawing, graffiti, tattooing, and painting with his hair designs. “Through evolving my style and approach, I’ve helped the barber industry transcend to be more about artistry so now there are barbers all around the world doing designs in their work,” he adds.
Taking the traditional sharp fade, edge-up and taper to the next level, Ferrel uses the scalp as a canvas for his work. “I wanted to challenge myself [so I] started doing more complex designs. This led to doing portraits — my first was of Tupac in 2008,” he says. “And, once I started working this way, I had to develop my own techniques because I didn’t really have a role model for this kind of work. I mixed that with YouTube and social media and I quickly started getting known for my haircuts.”
Ferrel’s style and technique has evolved to include an array of details, styles, and colors. Lately, he has been experimenting with 3D effects. “I did 3D a few years back, but I never really pushed it. Since I’m the innovator of hair portraits, I wanted to come out with something super fresh, so I started really focusing on the 3Ds and all the different effects it can achieve,” he says.
Among his designs, he's created a 3D Bob Marley and a 3D Cardi B. “These are done sometimes using the model’s actual hair but if they don’t have hair to match it, I’ll add extensions that I make myself and glue them in with eyelash glue,” he says. “I’ll also use eyeliner or brow pencil to add a little more shade and definition where it’s needed to give a more realistic, lifelike look.”
For his design inspiration, he relies on his wife with whom he sits down and brainstorms ideas. He hopes to give his clients something new and exciting. He also honors celebrities for their accomplishments, such as when he did a 3D Ariana Grande after she was named the most followed woman on Instagram. He also likes to honor legends like Bob Marley and Tupac.
Recently, he did a 3D portrait for his nephew of the Backpack Kid, the inventor of the floss dance. The Backpack Kid had contacted Ferrel to express his admiration. The designer is happy to be connecting with a younger generation as well.
Ferrel is currently in high demand and spends much of his time touring as a Babyliss Pro, offering exhibitions of his work in action. He also has more than 700k Instagram followers, which keeps him actively creating content. And it’s not just humans benefitting from Ferrel’s artistry.
He just shaved an Aztec calendar on a Pitbull named Trilo, as well as mandala on a bulldog. He even has his own clothing line, and creates custom portraits on barber brushes for fans. “For me, it’s all about finding the art in everything, and whatever medium it takes,” he says.