click image to zoomDavid Kafer, co-owner of Red 7 Salons in Chicago becomes part of the art he created. Photos by Jean Sweet. To decorate the walls of their playful salons in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, David Kafer and Jason Hall used to have an arrangement with a local gallery which provided artwork in exchange for the exposure. “But once they brought over a series of serious black and white prints, and we’re a very colorful salon—it was so not us,” Kafer remembers. “So I started doing my own paintings, and ended up selling them right off the walls. Before I knew it, I was asked to do a show. The girls I paint are people I see in my mind—I guess they are clients and I see how I can bring them to life.”
Over time, Kafer pursued an idea to merge his passions for hairdressing and painting. “My goal was to create something I hadn’t seen before, but more importantly, something that really spoke to me as an artist,” Kafer says. “When I looked at my art--most of which are female images--I thought, ‘How cool would it be to bring those images to life?’ So I did.”
Kafer started by painting two female images, then he went shopping for wigs.
“I hand painted the wigs, after carefully sculpting them,” Kafer says. “I was so inspired by wig work when I had the pleasure of working in a one-on-one class with Vivienne Mackinder. She pushed me out of my comfort zone—using wigs to help me explore more Avant Garde work, and she taught me how to set wigs and seam them.”
Creating a painting and transferring it to a human is tricky, says Kafer, who invited Red 7 staff sylists Lindsey Proctor and Quinn Hogue to serve as his models. “It could have gone terribly wrong, but with a lot of troubleshooting and time to think in my studio, I was able to make it happen.”
To capture and preserve the living art, Kafer hired photographer Jean Sweet to do a photoshoot. “In the last part of the shoot I decided to cut the canvas face out of the painting and have the models place their faces inside--merging the two together. It was an eye opening moment, one that made us all laugh at how quirky and fun it was!” says Kafer, who even became a subject of some of the shots. “It was a labor of love that will hang on our walls for years to come!”