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Who is Artistfree17?


Davey Shark, better known as Artistfree 17, is a well-known leather artisan from Harlem, New York. A self- taught master of leather art, Artistfree 17 has been credited with his unique style of 3-D leather art. He has the ability to take portraits that he paints on leather and enhances them by creating 3-D images bringing the portraits to life. In his collection are portraits of model Twiggy, recording artist Lauryn Hill, African model Alek Wek and fashion icon Iris Apfel to name a few. He has also completed many commissioned pieces.

Artistfree 17 got his start over 25 years ago by developing a technique that mimics the use of professional leather tools. He was able to accomplish the same outcome using household items namely a hairbrush, fingernail file, Campbell’s soup can, spoons, can openers and Bic pens. The result was incredible.

The idea to use the leather as a “skin” came from Artistfree 17’s desire for everyone to enjoy art. This concept came from a chance meeting with a visually impaired woman. After being so moved by the woman touching his face to “see” him. This left a lasting impression. He had a passion in his heart to help blind people see. Several years later, he feels that he was blessed by Jehovah with the gift of art and used this medium to fulfill his passion. He developed this 3-D technique with the visually impaired in mind with the idea that by feeling the art, art could be all-inclusive.

In the very near future, Artistfree 17 will provide tutorials on his Youtube channel (ArtistFree 17) to discuss topics such as an introduction to working with leather, tools that you can find around your house and how to begin your own 3-D leather journey on a budget.  


Consulting, developing and facilitating have always been a part of Artistfree17's world.  Whether on the stage, in the boardroom or amongst the public, his main intent is to leave people better than when he found them.  

As a member of the legendary Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew for several years, he was thrust into the public eye.  He wanted to use that platform as a springboard for future endeavors.  It paid off.

Artistfree17 has been a champion of the people and for the people.  He has:

  • Been a consultant for The Grace Group, a group developed to destigmatize mental health issues.
  • Developed the Breakfast Club, a group designed to bring people of all ethnicities together to talk over breakfast in hopes to show that we have more in common than not.
  • Used his long fostered connections to introduce actress Cynthia Nixon and Governor Phil Murphy to a diverse hip hop crowd in downtown Manhattan.
  • Acted in several plays at the Ujamaa Black Theater under the late Titus Walker to bring attention to issues of moral concerns- teaching through the arts.
Besides being an ordained Minister and consulting as a spiritual and practical life coach, one of the most rewarding opportunities of Artistfree17's career is his involvement in Network Support Services.  The focus of the program was to teach new mental, emotional and physical skills to people who wanted to re-enter society's workforce.  Under this program, he was able to develop a social etiquette program and an introduction to art program with the focus on shadings, dimensions and perspectives.  Through the Network, Artistfree17 was also able to facilitate both a domestic violence group and a reading group providing a safe place for discussion on depression.

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