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First, Last Name: Kashif “SheefGotSkillz” Brooks
Shop Name & Location: New Jersey
Contact Info: [email protected]
When did you start Tattooing: I started tattooing October, 5th 2009. After putting the thought of tattooing off for a few years, I stopped my work as a real estate agent and began tattooing. Struggling through the recession of the economy was taking a toll on the real estate market and after 5 years, I wanted to commit myself to something I loved to do.
Who was your first client, what type of tattoo did you do: My first client was my cousin’s god brother whose birthday is the same day as mine—July 7th. That made my beginning something worth remembering. The tattoo was of the “life/death” ambigram. Ambigrams are word tattoos that have two words combined, but when read from opposite perspectives, read one word or the other.
How long have you been doing tattoos: October 5th, 2016 made my 7th year tattooing, and I’m ALWAYS working on being better.
Describe your style of tattooing: My style of tattooing would be “Black & Grey realism” for the most part. I aim to do tattoos as close to realistic as it permits. Of course, tattoos vary, but I always push to create some form of 3D realism where the tattoo allows for it.
Do you have any tattoos & how many: I have about 14-15 tattoos. My favorite being the Mike Tyson portrait I did on myself 12/7/10. I only had one year of experience and no one would take a chance at getting portrait work from me, so I did that one on myself 2 days after bowling a perfect game.
What inspired you to start tattooing: My inspiration for tattooing was rooted in wanting to use my art ability without feeling confined mostly. I had done just about every other type of work I was willing to try, and art was the only thing I hadn’t given a shot. Tattooing was the perfect platform. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but 7 years later, I don’t regret the decision at all. It has introduced me to so many amazing people, due to the common interest in art.
Who are some of your influences: MAN. There are soooooo many influences for me. All of nature and the surrounding environments inspire me for starters. My boys Mark Mark, French, and CashTatts are the direct reasons I was able to get into tattooing. I was 4th in line behind them to start tattooing. Without them, there is no me.
There are a ton of artists who inspire me as well. The first one to WOW me was an artist named Jose Lopez. He’s wheelchair bound and tattoos some of the most amazing work you’ll ever see. So that was the “you have no excuse” drive for me at the beginning. The other two BIGGEST inspirations for me are “Caesar the hun” and Freddy Negrete. Caesar helped me out when NOBODY would respond to my emails or would brush me off when I asked for help. He shared a lot of tips and tricks to help me understand how to translate what I could do drawing into skin and ink; He gave me honest input on my art that I showed him, and had me laughing at myself at times. He knew exactly where I was in my career and was of great help. He could’ve easily turned me away, and didn’t. Freddy Negrete, ah man…can’t say enough about him—and his son Boo Boo Negrete. Freddy has been 100% real with me since day one. I met him already having an understanding of who he was, and he was very down to earth. Shared his take with me on tattooing and what things I could do to get better. Without him, there would be no Professional “Black & Grey” style for me to have gravitated to. He and Isaiah Negrete have become great friends of mine and continue to serve as inspirations for me. There are many others as well, but Jose Lopez, Caesar the hun, Freddy Negrete, and Isaiah “boo boo” Negrete are the most impactful.
Have you done any cover ups, how many: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of cover ups over the years but couldn’t tell you how many. I prefer a clear canvas, but there are some cover ups that I will do when I feel comfortable enough to. The open minded outlook of the client has a lot to do with it. Unreasonable clients are an automatic no.
What do you want the world to know about your tattoo life and any advice you can give to aspiring tattoo artist: What I would tell up and coming artists is to NEVER take short cuts. It will ALWAYS show up in the end result of your work. Don’t compromise your standards for quick money and find artists who do styles you favor. Study their work and contemplate how you would go about doing the tattoo. Mental repetitions while you’re not physically tattooing pay off. It will make you a more observant artist. Never stop being a student of the industry because it’s always changing.