SAN ANTONIO -- Some fans get a Spurs jersey, a custom license plate or a Tim Duncan bobblehead to show their devotion.
But any fan who wants to prove they bleed silver and black can go to see Joe Barber and display some Spurs spirit on their own bobbling head.
Joe Barajas, better known as Joe Barber, has been shaving designs into the sides of heads ever since he saw it done on the "NBA Inside Stuff" TV show when he was 11 years old.
His first attempt was a Dream Team logo, and it turned out pretty well. Now 31, Barajas artfully re-creates just about any design customers bring into Razor Sharp Cutz at the Ingram Mall.
With 14 different types of clippers and a fresh canvas of hair in front of him, Barajas likens his barber chair to a workshop. Cutting hair, he explained, is his craft, his passion and his pride.
“To me, it’s something that I could compare to being a carpenter,” he said. “Because it’s the same techniques that you have to understand of cutting and shaping and molding."
"Every clipper is like sandpaper. There’s heavy-duty clippers that are heavy grit, and you’ve got the finishers that are like 1,000 grit,” he said.
With the careful and confident strokes of a surgeon, Barajas starts carving out his design. It’s one of his most popular: the Spurs logo.
He works his way into the spikes, switching clippers to incorporate a fade and other intricate details. After he fills out the body, he works the edges with a small razor to really make the design pop.
Finally, he adds the finishing touches with a Graphtech pencil and a silver Sharpie paint pen.
Barajas knows the logo well and can complete the design in about 15 to 20 minutes, usually to the tune of about $30.
During Spurs season, the requests really start buzzing, especially when the team’s playing well. One customer sees Barajas for a fresh Spurs logo every single Friday.
“I love my Spurs. I’ve loved my Spurs ever since Terry Cummings was a part of our clique,” he said. “The Spurs resemble the people that I want to resemble. I have dignity. I have pride. I’m not a bad boy. I think they resemble the city. I think that’s the look we need.”
And it’s the look he gives his customers: San Antonio pride.
But it doesn’t stop there. Barajas wants all his customers to walk out with their heads held high, proudly displaying the freestyle design, their favorite team’s logo or whatever superstar they are saluting on their noggin, be it Tony Parker, Tony Romo, George Lopez, Biggie Smalls, Betty Boop or the X-Men’s Wolverine.
A YouTube following
Barajas has always had a loyal customer base in the seven years he’s worked at Razor Sharp and has been gaining even more notoriety on YouTube, where he posts his designs -- one video has been viewed more than 660,000 times and counting.
One of his latest has earned some extra attention. Nearly two months ago, he shaved two Michael Jordan portraits into the head of a customer bound for a Nike Air Shoe-Palooza. The video was picked up on a Yahoo Sports blog, NBA.com and ESPN 2.
Ever since, Barajas said he has been inundated with phone calls and emails, including an inquiry from a TV producer in Los Angeles who's working on reality shows.
Barjas appreciates the extra praise.
Growing up in the Alazan Courts neighborhood on the city’s west side, Barajas has come a long way. One of five children and with no father around, Barajas says he never knew much of life outside of the projects. But he always knew art.
It was always an area where he could thrive. As a child Barajas took classes at the Southwest Art Institute and the McNay museum.
Into his teen years, his etches ran off the canvas and onto the sides of buildings. His stint in graffiti art came to an end after a run-in with the law. Since he didn’t like paying fines for his artwork, he made a silk screen and started designing shirts.
He didn’t get serious about barbering until he lost his job at Budweiser at 23. That’s when he decided to enroll at Williams Barber College off W.W. White Road.
Six years later, he’s one of the most sought after barbers in San Antonio.
'The Master Clipper'
The father of five boys, Barajas always has plenty of heads to practice on. If he makes a mistake, which he says rarely happens, he has way of fixing it.
He doesn’t claim to be the best and he doesn’t begrudge any other barbers. He says he just loves the craft, and the Master Clipper tattoo on his right forearm doesn’t raise any doubt.
“I knew that I was going to be in it for the long run. I feel like it’s destiny,” he said.
Barajas says he loves the barber shop atmosphere -- the tomfoolery, the children and the sports banter, especially the never-ending LeBron vs. Kobe argument.
He also loves acting as a part-time counselor to his customers, always providing a listening ear and some words of hard-earned wisdom.
“I want to inspire people to overcome their adversaries, anything that they’re facing in their life,” he said. “If I can make it, I grew up the way I grew up, and I’m doing something, you can do something.”
What would MJ say?
It’s rewarding, as is an extra couple bucks from a satisfied customer or a shout-out on YouTube from viewers around the globe. But what would really make his day?
“I want to see what Michael Jordan himself would say (about the design),” he said. “That’d be the cherry on top.”
Barajas says he’s also waiting on a few Spurs to come into the shop, like rookie DeJuan Blair. He says Tim Duncan also has a reserved seat in the chair.
“I’d cut Timmy’s hair for free,” he said. “Because sometimes he lets his hair grow too long. And because I’m a huge Tim Duncan fan.”
Barajas says the best way to get in his chair is to call him at Razor Sharp and then come in and talk to him so that he knows the customer is serious about getting a haircut.
Check out more videos on Joe Barber's YouTube page.