MOLINE -- He uses hair clippers like a painter uses a brush. His canvas is the scalp, where he creates intricate designs.
Since he was a boy, Miguel Rosas has been cutting hair, starting with his own. That followed by cutting the hair of family and friends.
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Now, the 27-year-old barber/artist is owner of The New Style Barbershop in Moline, and he is winning awards and being recognized for his talents.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Mr. Rosas won first and second-place awards at the Xotics Hair Battle in Columbus, Ohio. He took first place for the fastest fade and second place for a freestyle competition with color where he cropped a design of Yosemite Sam into his subject's skull.
"I was in competition last year in Chicago and New York City," he said while shaving and trimming a customer's hair. "I took third place in both of those."
As a freshman at Rock Island High School, Mr. Rosas attended a career day and realized he already had found his calling. From there, he went to barber college and high school simultaneously, eventually graduating from Rocky and the Illinois Quad City Barber College in Moline.
His father, Nicolas, encouraged him to pursue his talents.
"It was this or concrete work with my dad," Mr. Rosas said. "I got pretty good at this. It's (cutting hair) a lot less stress on your body."
The barber shop smell of talcum is in the air as Mr. Rosas, with comb in one hand, clippers in the other, casually turns the barber chair slightly as he clips.
It's precision work with sure hands. He seems comfortable in his profession.
Mr. Rosas is a busy man. On Fridays and Saturday's, he's doing designer cuts he estimates, "at least half the day."
Traditional cuts are the mainstay for his business, but designer cuts are becoming more prominent.
He said there's a strong demand for designer cuts, mostly from younger customers. On a recent Wednesday, his first two customers received haircuts with stars and swirls.
Eventually, Mr. Rosas wants to own a chain of quality barbershops. His art work adds a little spice to his profession. He takes pride in his work.
"I just want people to know, it's just not cutting hair," Mr. Rosas said. "It's an art."