Getting Schwifty with Keith!
The long over due continuation of our wee 'get to know us' interviews! Sadly Keith has been sick this week but I managed to get him to send me through an email with the answers to a few insightful questions so you get to know that last member of the current crew here at Shop 9 & 3/4.
What was your first tattoo and why did you get it?
Keith: Ahhhh yes, well my first tattoo was my FIRST name- yes my own name- on some rocks with waves crashing on it. (note- I have not covered this up as I often use it as a warning to people who want to get designs they might regret haha).
Back when I started getting tattoos, this was when I was in Singapore where I'm from, the whole “surname as a belly rocker or across the back” was all the rage. I went into a tattoo studio and said what I wanted, my last name Lin. As it turns out, having a short last name doesn’t quite work for the design. So I was about to give up when the tattooist went "well I can do your first name instead, give me 30 mins and I’ll draw something up". Being the stupid 16yr old that I was, I didn’t think the idea through and was so awed by being able to get the tattoo, that I didn’t think what the tattoo would look like/ or mean. I just wanted to get tattooed. I have met the tattooist years on as a peer and have berated him on letting me get this stupid idea... but I get it, there was a lot of competition and tattooists back then and unfortunately for some people it can be just about making money and not thinking about the consequences of the design they are doing on someone else.
"Well my first tattoo was my FIRST name"
What is your favorite meme?
Keith: At the moment, this one. Yes it is a maths meme- if you know me, you know that maths and me aint friends.
What made you want to be a tattoo artist? Keith: Growing up in Singapore I was always fascinated by seeing old gangsters with their tattoos. Later on, when I was about 14 I joined a gang (not the smartest idea) which made tattoos even cooler in my eyes. Being in the army as well, I was in a camp where everyone had tattoos and there were a lot of tattooists at the time I was there. As a young adult I started getting really interested in the history of tattoos, especially Japanese/Asian style tattoos and wanted to do them on people! Now I have a better understanding about the meaning behind tattoos and although there is nothing wrong with getting something because it looks awesome, I am able to be educated in my tattoo designing decisions.
Have you ever had any negative experiences with your tattoos? Keith: Yes and no. My parents, especially my mum, grew up in an era in Singapore where tattoos were looked down upon. So we never agreed on the issue. Fortunately now, we have reached an understanding where she doesn’t like them but feels she has done her bit and its on me now. For years right up to 2 years ago, whenever I would see her, even in Singapore, my wife and I would wear long sleeve tops and pants.
But then again, it was through tattoos I have met so many people all around the world and gotten to know people such as Hori Benny, Horiei, Kyle, Crystal and Jay as well as many more.
Who is your favorite comic book/anime character? Keith: I do like me some Roland from the dark tower series which has now been released as graphic novels.
Anime, I would say Yukihira Soma from food wars, just because its food and anime about food and fooooodddddd..mmmmmmm
How would you describe your tattoo style? Keith: Lotsa straight lines. Hahah well I do like quite graphic images, bold lines, fine details etc. And I like to think that my design ideas are quite outside the box stuff, like with the origami and the pop culture and the weird Japanese stuff.
"Now I have a better understanding about the meaning behind tattoos"
Who would be your starter pokemon? Keith: Squirtle.
If you could give one piece of advice to your 14 year old self what would it be? Keith: Don’t be a dick and also don’t date Jane* (the hell you will go through is not worth it) *Name changed for privacy reasons
Which Rick and Morty character do you feel Adam and Alex most resemble and why?
Keith: Adam- first instinct was the devil haha but then thinking about it, Adam is like rick as in he has experienced so much in his life, its awesome to learn stuff/chat with him cuz its always interesting. And he doesn’t take crap from anyone.
Debbie is summer- tough exterior and doesn’t take shit but also just wants to be loved.
And rach you are mr meeseeks for sure
What do you hope for the future of shop 9 & 3/4? Keith: I want us as a shop to all grow and be able to show NZ and the world why we should be the place for pop culture tattoos.
I also want us to travel and see the world- but really more japan, and then more japan after.
What would you say are the positives of being a tattoo artist? Keith: being able to bring people joy by taking their ideas and putting them into skin.
Do you find there are any negatives? Keith: well not so much a negative as a point of pressure, when the idea cant work as a tattoo, or the client isn't open to listening to some of the reasons why a particular design won't work. You do occasionally meet some pretty crazy people in the industry... Working for yourself with a young family can be stressful too- but I am so lucky I have my wife who is my rock in this amazing time working at shop 9 ¾.
Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses? Keith: One horse sized duck, then at least u aren’t getting attacked on all sides. I mean imagine western springs but with duck sized horses coming at you...urrrgghhh nightmare.
"but I am so lucky I have my wife who is my rock in this amazing time working at shop 9 ¾."
What is the last gift someone gave you, what was it for? Keith: the last gift was actually our secret Santa- I got cool vinyl figures, a pin and an awesome star wars origami book from Adam!
Can you tell me what house you were sorted in to? Do you think it's a good fit? why? Keith: I am sorted into hufflepuff. I think it's a good fit, because they value loyalty and hard work. It sounds a bit corny but I would like to think I try to embody these traits in my life.
Something you think is important for everyone getting tattooed to know? Keith: it is gonna hurt, but the pain is temporary.
Please think your ideas through because the tattoos are permanent. And having realistic expectations on the aging of tattoos and also aging due to design/spot on the body.
When your not tattooing, how do you spend your time? Keith: I love spending time with wife and our daughter. I try to get in painting, reading(esp Stephen King/ Terry Prachett) and watching anime, and dreaming about when I am going back to japan again.
Finally what in gods name made you want to work with us? Keith: Good God I don’t know! Hahah.
Well when we were all working together previously it was awesome to hang out. And then when shop 9 ¾ became a thing, I stayed behind and realised that it was working/learning/hanging out with Adam/Debbie and Rach that made it fun and enjoyable. So it just seemed like a natural progression to come back to the people that helped give me the joy i get from being able to tattoo.
Anything else you would like to add?
Keith: I love bubble tea and ramen and japan and I cant do maths to save my life.