Metalhead Arts Project: Keith [England]
When you think the word “art”, many instantly think paintings, drawings, music, maybe even album art. But England’s Keith Thompson, owner and one man business For The Fly leather wear, expresses himself by modifying leather jackets and the like for well paying customers. No piece is the same and he can make your gear fit your personality. With the utmost kindness and professionalism, Keith is a very open minded person to work with.
Keith and I decided to share a virtual morning cup of coffee and I asked him about his music tastes, goals and the conceptual process of his work in regards to his For The Fly brand.
MHW: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us over a cup of joe! You do great custom work.
Keith: Absolute pleasure! Thanks a lot! I’m glad people dig what I am making.
MHW: As far as your concept, What type of jacket is used, leather or vinyl? How do you find your picks for modification?
Keith: I prefer to use real vintage leather. The things are built to last forever and I like that it’s more sustainable. I also work with faux leathers as not everyone wants to wear animal products, and they can be less expensive for myself and therefore my customers. I know ‘the look’ I’m after when looking for donor jackets, and spend quite a lot of time hunting well-priced pieces so I can keep the price down as much as possible. When doing commissions, I work with my clients to make sure I find the perfect jacket to start with in their size before I start studding it up!
MHW: Where did you learn the process? What was your inspiration?
Keith: I’m honestly learning as I go and making a lot of it up (laughs)! I use a leather punch and make every hole by hand, sometimes through three layers of 30 year old solid leather, and screw all the studs in one by one. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t, and trying to expand what I can do to make the jackets look awesome going forward.
I started by making custom jackets just for myself (the inverted cross Biker [jacket] was my first). I had a lot of people always asking where I got them from and realized that there might be a load of metalheads out there that would want their own, so a couple of months ago I made a couple to put on sale and the first one went within 24 hours so it’s worth pursuing. I really enjoy the process of each jacket, breathing new life into them and creating something unique.
MHW: Do you get approached my others to modify their own gear?
Keith: Yeah that’s started happening actually, and although I’m more than happy to source jackets on my own, it makes some things easier as they know it’s 666% going to fit how they like it.
I have a wrestler in New York sending his full length sleeveless leather coat for me to work on for his ring entrances which is pretty badass!
MHW: Do you listen to music when you are working? What bands get the creative juices flowing?
Keith: I definitely listen to music when I’m working! When I’m doing anything creative like painting or the jackets, I tend to listen to a lot of more prog/atmospheric black metal vibes... stuff like Wolves in the Throne Room, Ihsahn, Funeral Mist, Ulver or sometimes go a bit doomier and smash some Bongripper, Dopethrone or Primative Man.
MHW: Do you plan on making a career out of this or do you have a day job?
Keith: It’s not planned to make a living out of it, it’s very much just on the side at the moment and everything is made at home out of pure enjoyment and wanting more sick studded jackets on the streets. But it’s always the dream to do something you love for your career and if the demand is high enough I’m ready to follow this as far as it goes! I’ve already got jackets off out to Finland, Germany, The US, Mexico and Chile and that’s more than I could have imagined.
MHW: A very satisfying feeling for sure. Well thank you for taking a moment to speak with us! We wish you and FTF the best of luck moving forward!
Keith: Thank YOU! Stay metal, and remember…normal is an illusion.”What is normal for the spider is chaos For The Fly…”