The making of a ‘hair tattoo’

See how Dutch hairdresser Hans Beers shaves precise designs into buzzed-short hair to create four distinct ‘hair tattoo’ looks

Dutch stylist Hans Beer is always looking for a new challenge, and when he met Sharon van der Zwaag, he found a willing participant to help make his creative dreams a reality. “I had seen shaved patterns covering the head a few times,” Hans explained, “and I had done something like that occasionally, but always on one part of the head – the side or at the neck. I thought to myself: ‘What would that be like, the whole head shaved in patterns?’

“Sharon agreed – of course – for her nothing is too crazy! – so we started. First, we had to remove her relatively long locks and so Julienne Zwering (my collaborator on the project) got to work. Once she had finished, the result was bleached and after the bleaching, the hair was toned. So far, there was nothing new on the horizon!”

“I shaved the base a bit shorter, and after that… I just started. Beforehand, I thought about what would work and what would not, and I had heard from a colleague that you should never shave the lines parallel to the contour line, especially in the neck. They warned me that any lines must be clipped perpendicular to that line.

“I quickly discovered you need a steady hand, but that actually applies to everything in the hairdressing profession. Since a model can suddenly move their head, disrupting the shape and lines of the cut, you have to look for support by resting your hand.

“After shaving the patterns, make-up artist Camilla and photographer Martin could get to work. This time there was no styling, but I thought: ‘Maybe next time…'”

Credit L-R: Ignorance=Fear by Keith Haring, Untitled 1983 by Keith Haring

“A few weeks later, Sharon and I arranged a second session. Of course, I wanted to do something different and the inspiration was the ’80s street artist Keith Haring. I studied his work and practiced the ‘doll’ patterns he was famous for with felt-tip pen on paper. I also drew them on a picture of Sharon’s head to work out the alignment and see how they would end up.

Image credit: Robert Mapplethorpe

“Keith Haring worked on a project with Grace Jones, in which he painted on her stage costume using body paint. That project provided so much inspiration! The make-up artist this time was Annemieke, who didn’t hesitate when I asked her to replicate the look. And the stylist Stefhanie then added the finishing touches with beautiful jewellery.”

“In a third session, we tried out other patterns on Sharon’s head. The inspiration was the early ’60s Dutch art movement called ‘Nul’, which featured repeated patterns and celebrated plain, ‘everyday, ordinary beauty’, of which Jan Henderikse was one of the founders.

“In addition to being a fantastic make-up artist, Annemieke turned out to be a handy stylist – Sharon’s ‘outfit’ is actually rolled up with wrapping paper. And in this instance, I photographed the look myself.”

“After we shot with Sharon, another model also showed interest, Jill Valerie. There is a famous haircut by Issie Churcher in London that I used as inspiration. Annemieke did the make- up and styling again, while I once again did the photography myself.”

Hair: Hans Beers and Julienne Zwering, Hans Beers Hair Stage
Make-Up: Camila Verweij Da Silva Santos and Annemieke Tip
Body Paint: Annemieke Tip
Photography: Martin Bierman and Hans Beers
Styling: Stefhanie Blokland and Annemieke Tip
Models: Sharon van der Zwaag and Jill Valerie