Did you hear? The scalp is the new canvas. Many barbers dabble in “hair art”, but few excel like Julius Cvesar. Founder of the game-changing barbershop and academy ALLHAIL, Cvesar is equal parts stylist and painter. In an exclusive interview with ULTRA, the follicle guru walks us through his signature dyeing technique, KHAOTIKCOLOR, and the beginnings of the trend – although, as Cvesar reminds us, hair art is not so much a “trend” as a viable form of expression.
It’s living, growing art.
The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.
At what point do you think hair dying started becoming more mainstream – can it be attributed to a specific person or time?
As a kid, I was privileged to witness the 90s Chicago Bulls era. Without having to say much, one name subsequently comes in mind. Dennis Rodman. He definitely was someone who set the precedent light-years before [hair art] truly took off. I’ve been a barber for 17 years now, but I’ve only [been] offering color services for less than a year. Within the hair-color spectrum, I specialize more in the subcategory of “hair art” or what I have dubbed KHAOTIKCOLOR, where I literally use hair as a canvas to create custom hand-painted pieces that are inspired by other visual art mediums, pop culture, fashion, and design.
When did it become more mainstream? Never! I think the beauty of creating hair art comes with carrying an anti-mainstream, rebellious, bold conviction to one’s self.
How collaborative are you with the person who gets their hair dyed? What’s the process like?
All my hair services are treated quite equally. It’s very important to me to build a strong understanding and rapport with my clientele – even more so when creating hair art. The majority of the time, I am working alongside my client going over visuals, inspo, references, color schemes, design options, etc.
Being a tattoo collector myself, I actually find the process of KHAOTIKCOLOR quite similar to how it is to get a tattoo. Bearing in mind different factors including hair texture, complimenting colors to skin tone, and one that is super important to me: placement/layout.
I want each piece to not feel cookie-cutter, hence why I don’t prefer using stencils and choose to freehand-paint the art and designs. I literally can do the same general design on a few different people, yet each time I do, I make sure it’s something fully custom and specific for the person that will wear the art piece.
“Hair art comes with carrying an anti-mainstream, rebellious, bold conviction to one’s self.”
Talk about the type of person that gets their hair dyed by you. What’s their style like?
I actually find it amazing that the spectrum of people that end up in my chair to get some KHAOTIKCOLOR are quite eclectic. One general theme is that they all want to do something crazy. Each session seems to be yet another evolution for one’s self.
As mentioned in the question, a client’s personal style is something I do take into account. It’s important that I make sure their new bold hair compliments that, and hopefully [the hair art] can be the icing on the cake of their current look. Notable figures that I have been given the privilege to do a crazy piece on include Chris Brown, YG, and Zhavia Ward. The list of other amazing creatives that have been inquiring to schedule a session has been growing, as we all await for the current pandemic to pass through.
What’s the craziest or most intricate design you’ve done?
Man, I feel like I hit the ground running when I started doing KHAOTIKCOLOR. All the pieces I’ve done so far, in the short amount of time creating, have been considerably pretty craziy and intricate, haha. If I had to single one (or two) out, I would say the KAWS flayed companion piece or the AARON KAI waves piece. Both pieces were to give ode to two amazing artists that I know have made a strong impact in art and pop culture. It was particularly intricate and difficult to me personally because I wanted to make sure I tried my wholehearted best to emulate the original art piece, in full artistic respect.
What other trends do you think could stem from this?
I wouldn’t consider this just a “trend”, but if I had to reiterate what can come of this for the hair industry – more and more barbers will experiment and give hair art a chance. In the broader scheme of things, KHAOTIKCOLOR was always meant to be part of the evolution of my passion for all thing visually creative. I see intricate hair art finding its way back around into fashion, sports, music, e-gaming, and many other subcultures that already carry a proper dose of anti in their DNA.