One of the perks of interviewing neighbours is that you get to meet with interesting people. Some with strong interests, passionate about something or those having fascinating jobs.
Little did I know that this time I was meeting a man who was a combination of all these things.
Rob Kelly. A visual poet with skin as his canvas – A tattoo artist.
My preconceived notions/persona analysing machine go full throttle as I enter his Sheung wan studio.
Rob’s work space is a large well-lit room; natural sunlight pouring in through multiple windows. Casually dressed in a baseball cap, blue jeans, a Tee shirt and colourful tattoos sneaking out of it from all sides, he says Hello.
Tattoo artist: Artsy. Adventurous. Well-lit studio: Organised/structured. Body language: super friendly.
We exchange pleasantries. “Why Tattoo Artist?”, I ask. “Since childhood, I’ve had a passion for drawing and I was also awed by tattoos at a very early age, getting my first one at the age of 14yrs.” “And how did your parents feel about that?” I ask. “My parents didn’t know about it because it was on my hip”, he says cheekily. His career path was set early on: Rob started tattooing professionally in 2005.
At Blackout, Rob tattoos clients after consultation and understanding what they want and their motivation for the tattoo. If he feels they are unsure about getting a tattoo he often does not take on the clients. “I don’t want to tattoo a client if there is high chance that he/she will regret it later. It is quite painful to have a tattoo removed with laser..”, he explains.
There are times the client comes with a specific design in mind and other times it’s upon Rob to create a unique piece of design from a theme they like. For small pieces Rob charges a flat fee but for the larger more elaborate ones, the charge is by the hour.
The age of his clients ranges from teenagers and his oldest client was a lady who was nearly 84. “Tattoo was part of her “to do“- bucket list” he says smiling.
Talented and a thorough professional.
Rob and his wife Kat, moved to Kennedy town after becoming dog parents 4 years ago. “We moved to Kennedy town with 2 dogs and subsequently took in another 2. We have local young couples as neighbours on either side. Our Terraces are separated only by bamboo fences. One day, one neighbour came over and politely asked us to keep our dog away from their terrace, as one of our dogs had sneaked into theirs. I apologised and explained that Gordon, was a rescue dog and how Gordan had been caged and abused for 10 years and was terribly sick when we took him in. And so now he liked to be outdoors at all times. The neighbour heard out the story but did not say much then.“
“The next day the neighbour came back to tell us that they wanted to take down the fence so that the dogs could have double the space to walk around. Now it’s almost like the dogs belong to them too. It’s great being next to supportive neighbours.”
Pet lover. Kennedy town resident: Obviously cool and neighborly- No logic here. The inner voice seldom has any.