A Conversation with Sha, AKA 333.333.333zzz

A Conversation with Sha, AKA 333.333.333zzz

Airbrushing can be traced back to as early as the 20th century, used for retouching in art and photography. Airbrushing is a technique that sprays a fine mist of paint onto a surface to create smooth and even layers.

In the ‘60’s, a time known for “Kustom Kulture”, airbrushing gained popularity as a way for customizing cars and motorcycles. Artists like Von Dutch, Ed Roth, and Stanley Mouse took airbrushing to t-shirts, and it had a brief stint in street culture.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s airbrushing made a comeback through hip hop and graffiti scenes. Artists were able to show their skills and express themselves in a wearable form. In NYC, a crew of artists - Edwin “Phade” Sacasa, Rafael “Kasheme” Avery, and Clyde “Nike” Harewood AKA the “Shirt Kings” were a few who elevated airbrushing to a new level by incorporating their graffiti skills with the technique of airbrushing.

Today, airbrushing is making its third resurgence in street culture and we are happy to share a conversation with a new generation of NYC airbrushing artists such as, Sha, AKA 333.333.333zzz. 

ALUMNI: Tell us about yourself, who are you and how long have you been making art?

Sha: My name is Sha, I’m in 26 years old raised in The Bronx. I’ve been been making art for a few years now, maybe since like high school.

A: There are so many ways of expression. What made airbrushing catch your attention?

S:  I think what caught my attention with airbrushing was that it had the same effects as using cans of paint. Growing up around graffiti definitely played a big role in me starting with airbrush.

A: From our understanding you're into graffiti. Does that play a role in your airbrushing style?

S:  It definitely does, I was always into characters and funky lettering. It took me a while to really learn lettering styles; I’m still learning as much as I can. I try my best to fit that culture into T-shirt design.

A: You continue to carve a lane, stand out and catch the attention of many. From work for brands to personal t-shirts for rappers and design for relief funds - what’s a project that you’re hyped on?

S:  I would say a project that I was always hyped on was the tee I designed for BRIGADE which was a illustration on Puerto Rican boxing gloves. All the money made on the tees were donated to relief funds after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico. What made me really hype about it was that I could somehow contribute to the place where I was born.

I guess I was never too worried about standing out, I think sometimes you have to reach into yourself and figure out where you come from.


A: There’s a lot of creatives pushing their presence today and “standing out” seems difficult. How do you approach standing out? Is that even something you worry about?

S: I guess I was never too worried about standing out. Sometimes you have to reach into yourself and figure out where you come from. My style kind of came naturally to me. I guess I’m just a student of Life when it comes to Hip Hop. I definitely do keep to the graffiti roots though.

A: You host an event in Harlem almost every weekend. How does the community respond to that?

S: I love working in Harlem, if you’re from New York you should know Harlem, it’s its own world. I’ve done things for all kinds of Harlem residents, I love doing tees for kids. I think the folks up in Harlem appreciate what I can give and I appreciate them for being there. Shout out to ALLCITYLEGENDS JACKEE AND CROWN.

A: This July you’ll be airbrushing at the ALUMNI Crown Heights location. Can you tell us about what you’ll be doing?

S: Yeah, so I’ll be at Alumni just reworking their graphic tees and spicing them up with cool accents and lettering styles. Definitely a few characters here and there. I’ll be going the more old school airbrush approach with name designs and classic backgrounds.

A: As mentioned above, you’ll be doing artwork over dead stock tees. What are your thoughts on reusing dead stock to create something new? 

S: I think working with dead stock tees is a cool approach to showcasing where it’s coming from but also being more environmentally friendly by reusing and recycling these garments. I try my best to make the most out of the garments I work on.

A: How do we connect with you? 

S:  There’s many ways to connect with me. I’d say Instagram is an easy way. Website will be coming soon and then businesses cards. One day I might open up a little shop, we’ll see where that goes.

A: Who else should we keep an eye out for?

S:  There’s a lot of people you should keep an eye out for. If you’re interested in my work, I would say a few homies, like my brother ELIJAH MAURA, we play a lot with characters and the homie Wreck from Korea - he kills it. Shoutout to the boy BlinkerFluid, he’s got funky characters with all types of gestures. I could go on and on. A lot of my homies have been inspiring to me. Shoutout to the whole RBV CREW and all my uptown cats as well.

A: Can’t wait for the event coming this July.

ALUMNI will be hosting Sha, AKA 333.333.333zzz this Sunday, July 2nd at our Crown Heights location.