When I first moved to Cape Town in 2009, I went through a creative sensory overload. So many incredible cultures, new brands, fantastic new foods to discover and such a visual feast that I suddenly had laid out in front of me. Of great interest were some of the cultures from the townships. Areas where many had warned of crime I saw a great deal of culture and interest. Early on I started to notice that there was a unique, almost naive art style to the signage of the barbershops, which over the years has developed into one of my many visual collections.
The South African barbershop is far more than just a house of grooming but also a social space where many gather to discuss and gossip. From within townships, salons appear from one day to the next, coming and going on a dream of becoming a local entrepreneur, where the usual rules to beginning a business are very different to that of the city.
I found the signage of great interest, as the style of illustration, usually of a male head and shoulders, is pretty much the same throughout the country. What makes this even more interesting to me is that the visuals seem to of developed from a form of colloquialism from within the informal townships instead of any real intention to create a unique style.
I hope that you enjoy the images below. They are a very small selection from a rather large collection but I think that they really capture this cultural visual phenomenon of South African barbershop art.