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Conversations with Keith Greene

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keith Greene.

Hi Keith, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1966. My mom was a single mother and an NYPD police officer during the 1970s and 80s. I attended a Catholic school all through primary grades, but was thrilled to go to the High School of Art & Design, graduating in 1984. After high school, I went directly on to study at Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts (SVA). In 1988, I fell for my first wife, a Swedish au pair working in NY. When she went home I relocated to Sweden with her and stayed for 14 years.

While in Sweden, I continued studying art and participated in annual festivals and city wide art projects, and worked on various freelance illustration commissions. I had my first solo art show in 1997, and had a few other shows to follow, but I felt that it was redundant and it wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted to learn how to tattoo!

In the late 90s, tattoos weren’t as mainstream in Sweden. The population of the entire country was only about 8 million at the time, and it was difficult to break into the industry in general. I felt that there would be more opportunity to train as a tattoo artist back in the States. San Diego sounded appealing because the tattoo culture was starting to take off, and living in a warm place with a beach sounded appealing.

For the first three years of living in San Diego, I had a day job at Kinkos as a computer design consultant, and worked on my tattoo apprenticeship when I wasn’t at my day job. While I fine-tuned my craft I also participated in solo and group art shows – mostly connected to North Park’s Ray at Night. My art has also hung in various restaurants and bars throughout San Diego.

I like to say that tattooing is now my day job and art is my career. My shop, Federation Ink, is located in North Park/Normal Heights. Currently, a few pieces from my most recent painting series called “Somewhere in…,” are hanging at a shop near my own – Eclipse Naturals CBD Boutique.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
There are many obstacles in life that challenge us all but the most for me have been the everyday issues of being a black man in America.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
My work varies and is ever-evolving. My aesthetic from 5 yrs ago is totally different from what I do today. These days, the art that I create outside of tattooing is completely different from tattoo art. A few pieces of my current work are hanging at Eclipse Naturals CBD Boutique until the end of September.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

James Halfacre @jameshalfacre, @outsidelastweek

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