SUBURBAN LAKE WORTH BEACH - A Palm Beach County barber is bringing national attention to the area for his hair-cutting talents.
Gabe Galarza of Blurry Fades Barbershop literally carves works of art into people's hair. He's been perfecting his craft for 25 years.
“It’s not just about cutting hair, it’s more than that," he said. “There’s people that do yoga. There’s people that do meditation -- it’s relaxing for me.”
The 37 year old took his talents to the next level by winning what's called the "Super Bowl" for barbers. The CT Expo in Hartford, Connecticut is the largest barber competition in the country.
“The best of the best go there. People from all over the place, from London, Brazil. All of the United States," he said.
He took home a brand new car, top recognition in the industry, and some newfound inspiration in his career. On Thursday, WPTV caught up with him back home at the barbershop as he showed us how quickly he can create a masterpiece on a head of hair without missing a beat.
“You only get one shot at it," he said, carving the image of Sonic the Hedgehog into his longtime friend and client, Jessica Foreman's hair.
Foreman said she lets him practice different designs on her head. Some of her favorites include the portrait of Gianni Versace, the New England Patriots logo, and the Blurry Fades logo.
“Anything he wants to try, go for it," she said. "This isn’t just a regular hair cut, this is a design that everybody is going to see. It's literally your business card walking around.
In just one hour, he transformed her hair into a perfect sketch of the Sega video game character.
“It’s not like a pencil where you can use the eraser," he said.
His talent is probably how he earned the name "Gabe the Legend" on Instagram.
“He loves his work. You can tell," said Foreman.
During the national expo, Galarza had to make an exact copy of a random photo presented to the competitors. The picture was not that simple: a half gorilla and half lion. He had 65 minutes to perfectly sketch it into someone's head and also make sure the rest of the hair was cut for presentation.
“When I looked at it, I was like whew, really?” he said. "I gave it my all, I tried my best. I felt like I did pretty well under the pressure. I was definitely happy with myself on that."
His friend and co-worker, who's known as Atlas the Creator at the barbershop, came with Galarza to the expo for support.
"We're like brothers," he said. "I've been around in a few barbershops and sometimes the atmosphere can be thick. But coming here to Blurry Fades, we've grown to be a family. It's hard to build a friendship between so many barbers. There's 18 barbers here and we all come together."
He said he was shocked and proud to hear Galarza was selected as the winner.
“He was crying," he said. "When I heard them say, city of Lake Worth, South Florida. We had to put it on the map you know?”
Galarza has done everything from movie and cartoon characters to sports teams. His work even made it onto the jumbotron at the Miami Dolphins stadium.
Galarza says at one point in his career, he felt like giving up.
“There were times where I would practice and would fail. And there were times I wanted to give up. My fellow barbers would tell me, 'It’s just one out of the many. You can continue doing it. Continue pushing yourself.'"
And he did. He hopes others will learn from his experience and push themselves in their own craft.
“Just trust in yourself. You're talented. Don't doubt yourself," he said. "You just got to continue pushing yourself and believe you can achieve it, and it’ll happen."