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Back Talk with Shawn Barber

Juxtapoz // Monday, 20 Jul 2009

Shawn Barber is a master in realistic new-school meets old-school oil portraits. His paintings share aesthetic tendencies with classical paintings, but traditional saints-as-subjects are replaced with contemporary tattooed individuals.


In between his long painting sessions, we somehow managed to snag responses from Shawn Barber for our Back Talk feature (despite his quip that the questions “are pretty ridiculous”).


How do you feel right now?




If you could wake up in a different place tomorrow morning, where would it be and what would you do?


Wherever it is, as long as I wake up next to my girl –it’s all good.

Shawn Barber, circa 1988


If you lost your creative skill, how would you see yourself making a living?


A mechanic. 


If you could punch one living contemporary artist, who would it be?


I’m a lover, not a fighter. What did you hear about me? Nothing concerning a hammer, I hope…

Was your first kiss worth writing a song about?




At what point were you particularly happy?


Every time I’m painting…


No regrets allowed, but there must have been one?



What trait do your friends have in common?


They are all fucked in the head. They are also amazingly talented, creative, hardworking individuals that have figured out how to do their thing without ‘the man’ hovering over them.


If you had to evacuate your home or studio, what's the one thing you would grab?


My laptop, without a doubt.


Greatest love of your life?


My love affair with making art.

What is your favorite vice?


‘Titties’ tattoos. You don’t even know. And I’m not talking about tattoos ON the breasts…


When you blow out the birthday candles, what do you wish for?


Wishing for anything is a shallow exercise in unnecessary desire. I’m happy with what I have.


If you could play a character from a favorite film or TV show for a day, who would it be?


I don’t believe in fairy tales.


Do you ever lie?



Do you think viewers understand the intent of your work?


Who knows? Does it really even matter? When you spend as much time and energy as I do with my art, it’s a piece of you and it’s completely personal.
Hopefully my work speaks for itself.


What virtue can you do without?




Do you even notice when you're swearing?


All the fucking time.

What has been your proudest moment?

Getting by for a dozen plus years making pictures for a living.


What would you like to be remembered for?


Being human. Sharing what I have to offer with the time I have here.


How would you prefer to die? 


Doing it.



Every image in one place


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