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New Art - Conceptual Realism - Shawn Barber

Updated on July 6, 2016

Who is Shawn Barber?

Shawn Barber lives in San Francisco, California, but grew up in Central New York state.

Barber has said that he has been drawing as long as he can remember, stating that it's an immediate means to create with a minimum of tools. He has also stated that one of the other reasons was shear boredom growing up in a small community. The community is unnamed.

In the beginning he drew superheros and the occasional artwork for bands.

After high-school he went to a community college for a year and a half, dropping out to go on to an accredited college studying substance abuse. At the age of twenty-five he began taking classes in art appreciation and art history. While there, some of his peers challenged him to do more. This is when he took up oil and canvas and began working full-time toward his artistic vision.

He has taught art at the university level (starting as a student teacher assistant) and progressing into full professorship. This took too much of his time though so he resorted to creating a DVD called "Foundation Painting with Shawn Barber."

This way he can spend more time painting and less teaching.

He has stated that the many years of school have left him with an onerous student loan debt, but he expects to have it paid down by working continuously and constantly.

I think he's right. He's known to be one of the most prolific artists out there.

Shawn Barber - Self Portrait
Shawn Barber - Self Portrait

Medium, Technique & Presentation

Barber paints with oil on canvas. The "traditional" tools of the trade.

His technique is to produce a number of pencil and paper "studies" and then sketch out the subject on canvas.He paints on canvases from 8 X 10 inches to 8 X 10 feet.

Often his paintings will show multiple hands, legs, arms of the single subject. The purpose is twofold. In one instance the effect may be to imply motion. Such as the Steve Boltz' portrait below.

In others it is to help show-off the tattoos of his subjects such as the Kat Von D portrait immediately after.

Shows and Presentations
In 2007 Barber had his works shown in four individual exhibits, taught at an art school in San Francisco, and has been a prominent artist for magazine covers and advertising.

Many of Barber's subjects are friends or tattoo artists he admires. He says ninety percent of the time he approaches his subject rather than being requested to paint someone.

Steve Boltz Tattooing. Shawn Barber
Steve Boltz Tattooing. Shawn Barber
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kat Von D - Tattoo Artist - Shawn BarberBarack Obama - for the Wall Street Journal - Shawn BarberPaul Booth - Portrait - Shawn Barber
Kat Von D - Tattoo Artist - Shawn Barber
Kat Von D - Tattoo Artist - Shawn Barber
Barack Obama - for the Wall Street Journal - Shawn Barber
Barack Obama - for the Wall Street Journal - Shawn Barber
Paul Booth - Portrait - Shawn Barber
Paul Booth - Portrait - Shawn Barber


Many, though not all, of Barber's works are featured in the videos below.

Fair warning, some of the images presented contain partial nudity. If you are sharing this hub with younger readers be aware of this fact. You should also be aware that searching for Shawn Barber works via the Internet may present you, and whomever is with you, with partial nudity or images that younger viewers may find disturbing.


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  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 5 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks mabmiles. I aim go please.

  • mabmiles profile image

    mabmiles 6 years ago

    Wow amazing hub.

  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 6 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    rotten: Shawn in remarkable. Old world technique and style with New world topics.

  • rottenpunk profile image

    rottenpunk 6 years ago from Colchester Essex UK

    One of my all time favs this artist, in fact @ liamBean you have covered most of them, nice work..

  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 7 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks G L. I'm not nearly done with this topic.

  • G L Strout profile image

    G L Strout 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

    What a fascinating artist. I really like this work. Thank you for a beautiful article.