‘So, I drew my first pic. and jokingly said it was by H.K. rather than K.H. (Keith Haring). That was when I created Hairy Keith. Since then I have been pretty lucky with it, and managed to come quite a long way with it.’
What is your name and where do you live?
Ok, so my real name is Luke, and I live just outside Leicester, in the middle of England. I am a sponsored skateboarder. I work in a skate shop and as an “artist” I am known as Hairy Keith.
How long have you been drawing skateboard sketsches and why?
Well, I have been drawing skateboard pics probably as long as I have skated (22 years) but I have only really created “Hairy Keith” since 2019. I work in a skateshop called Magic Toast, and we got some rad Diamond X Keith Haring clothing in. I have always been a fan of Keith Haring and although I love his work, it made me think that some of it would look cool with skateboarders in that style. So, I drew my first pic. and jokingly said it was by H.K. rather than K.H. (Keith Haring). That was when I created Hairy Keith. Since then I have been pretty lucky with it, and managed to come quite a long way with it.
It sounds like you are a bit surprised by the success. What are you most proud of so far?
Well yeah. I thought it was just going to be a couple of friends who might enjoy some of my art, but it escalated pretty quickly. I think the thing I am most proud of is putting myself out there. I know a lot of people who draw, or create different art and just keep it to themselves as they think it’s not good enough to show. So I am glad I took the plunge. As for something physical I am proud of, it would have to be the Hidey Keith book. That sold really well considering it was an off the cuff idea. It also brought in a lot of other commissions, including the piece I did for the friends of Montpellier Park which was great fun working on.
Where do you get your daily dose of inspiration from?
I was initially inspired by Keith Haring’s work. But since realising people actually seemed to like my artwork, i have drawn inspiration from artists like Ed Templeton and the Gonz. Unknowingly, or probably unconsciously I have found myself close to the artist Brother Merle. I have followed him for a long time, but it didn’t click until someone said it was very similar. He is definitely someone I aspire to be like in terms of art. I also love Lucas Beaufort, another Skater/artist with an amazing style. As for daily inspiration, it can come from many places. Some days I get nothing, and this can go on for a week or more. But some days its fluid. I get an idea, and that leads to more and I can spend a good few hours sketching out ideas.
You published a book called Hidey Keith. It says that Hairy Keith has been traveling to 9 of the best skate spots on the planet to get a good skate in. Did you actually go there?
Haha, I wish. I have been to some though. I traveled Europe in 2008 for 3-4 months and skated almost all of the famous spots along the way – Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Marseille, Barcelona, Valencia. It was pretty amazing. One of the spots in the book is the Buzzy at Milton Keynes, which is a favorite spot of mine for many years. I also try to get to Barcelona once a year with my friends. As of yet, I haven’t skated in the USA, but hopefully, I will get there in the next couple of years. China looks amazing, but I think it might just be too far for me for the foreseeable future.
What is the best skate spot you ever been to and why?
Whow, heavy question. I don’t know where to start. If i break it down, it would probably be MACBA in Barcelona. It has everything and the scene is great, the weather, the architecture, everything feels good there. There’s so many other options, it would depend on what I wanted to skate that day if it was a certain spot, but yeah Macba for the overall good times and chill atmosphere.
What was your proudest moment as a skateboarder?
I think I might have a couple of bits here. So, my proudest trick ever would probably have to be a nollie laser flip down a 6 stair at a school where i used to live. It was around 2003, and I landed with a hand down. But it felt amazing, and back then I hadn’t seen anyone do one down anything, maybe not anywhere in videos back then that I had seen. As a skateboarder, anytime I have won a competition has to be up there. there haven’t been many, but I won a best trick comp at Skegness plaza years back. I didn’t know it was even happening. There were loads of people skating the bank to bank gap and I got about 4 tricks over it just joining the session, and at the end they just called me over and gave me a bag of prizes. It was rad. Finally, I think being invited to compete at the National championships in England was a huge thing for me. I had sent in a clip and got selected, then the following year I was invited back again. But Covid put a stop to the event.
You live a skater textbook life working for a skateshop. Is it as romantic as it sounds?
Errrmmmm…. Well I first worked in a skateshop at 17. That was textbook and as romantic as it should be. I was young, it was three days a week, the shop hooked me up, and I was having fun. As an adult it’s different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great, I get to have a good inside knowledge of the industry and what’s new. Get the all important discount, and get to talk to and help other skaters. But working full time, dealing with the online side, and now with Covid, it’s not as much of a dream job as it should be. But hopefully it will swing back.
If there is one thing you could change about skateboarding, what would it be?
I want to say nothing. There are so many views on what’s wrong with it in different aspects (olympics, sponsorships, styles, fashion) that I want to be positive. I am a fan of the progress it’s made since the 90s. I loved it then, because of the “punk” “counter culture” vibe, and then THPS (Tony Hawk Pro Skater) came out and it hit mainstream for a while, then slowed down and now it’s massive due to the olympics. I am most impressed by the rise of female skating. Back when I started, and for a lot of years, females were not very involved in skating. Now there seems to be more girls than boys skating at the skateparks, it’s amazing. And the level at which they skate is getting seriously good, the world championships showed that!!
I would like to say thanks to all of the people that support my art and/or skateboarding. My wife Clare, my boys Leo and Oscar. The rest of my family and friends. All of the 5iftyone crew, and anyone I have met along the journey. And thanks to Backside Mag for having me. It’s great to be asked to dosomething like this and let you have an insight into what it’s like to be a skater/ artist, and if you skate and/or do art, go out and kill it! Peace.