TMP Photo by Kelly Hite. Jonathan Greiner and Keenan Lee, also known as K-Lee, are preparing to share their belief in Jesus through ink at the new tattoo shop Prophetic Ink.
Keenan Lee isn’t shy about expressing what he believes.
He wants everyone to know he is a Christian by the tattoos etched into his skin and the words that come out of his mouth.
That’s why this rapper turned tattoo artist is preparing to open only the second Christian tattoo shop in Tennessee. Lee’s Prophetic Ink opens New Year’s Day at 230 Stones River Mall Blvd. behind Coconut Bay Café and adjacent to Stones River Mall.
Lee, also known as K-Lee, said his shop is the only one he knows of that won’t tattoo evil images. The licensed tattoo artist specializes in custom Christian and neutral tattoos.
Tattooing with what he says is a God-given ability, Lee said, he won’t ink any tattoo that goes against his beliefs because his name will always be connected to the piece.
The talented artist doesn’t think twice about turning down customers who want such common and traditional tattoos as snakes and dragons. He won’t even tattoo on clients’ private parts.
“The only way I will tattoo something evil is if it is being killed by something holy,” he said.
A rapper since the age of 13, Lee, who is now 29, has sold more than 50,000 of his own albums and has performed on some 35 records. He has performed with such artists as Lil Jon, Pastor Troy, Bun B and Pimp C, Bizzy Bone and Bushwick Bill and Big Mike of the Geto Boyz.
For six years all he did was record, perform and sell albums out of his car.
Until one day, his mother, Jan Jansen, had a vision that Lee was supposed to be a tattoo artist.
Lee didn’t hesitate. He sought an apprenticeship from Marty Cade at Heaven Lee Rose Tattoo Shop in Smyrna and worked in one of his shops until a few months ago.
Prophetic Ink is unusual as far as tattoo shops are considered.
The owner/artist won’t tolerate any vulgar language or lewd behavior in or around his shop.
“It is going to have a positive atmosphere,” Lee said of the shop.
But he said, the shop will be accepting of anyone who walks in and only when asked will Lee attempt to share the word of God with his clients.
“God uses me to close doors in people’s lives,” Lee said.
In the past, he has inked Biblical images over clients’ satanic tattoos. And with his new shop, Lee looks forward to helping clients’ move forward by covering up their past with a piece of their future.
Lee said God has laid the path for him to open his tattoo shop at this juncture in his life. God led him to the vacant retail space near the mall that Lee believes is a prime location for his business.
Lee will be the only artist in the shop to start. He said he is more concerned about the quality of tattoos that will come out of his shop rather than the quantity.
Samples of Lee’s work are available on the Internet for viewing at www.myspace.com/propheticink.
Prophetic Ink also features a wide variety of body jewelry for $5, clothing from Christian-owned businesses and, of course, Lee’s music.
Among the Christian clothing lines currently or soon to be available at the shop include MonkRock, One Truth Clothing, Don’t Be Pimped, Gangsta for Jesus, Truth Soul Armour and Pierced.
Shop assistant Jonathan Greiner will sell his own clothing line called Street Pilgrim at the shop as well.
Working in tattoos shops in the past, Lee said he has been mocked for his beliefs. Even Christians have told him he is going to hell for the tattoos on his skin and for putting ink in others.
But Lee is sure he is on the right path.
“I tattoo because I feel like I am supposed to,” Lee said, adding that he doesn’t do the work for the money.
Greiner said he has had many people judge him for having tattoos.
But he said he will get as many tattoos as he can. They serve as his testimony, one of the ways he gives glory to God. Among the five tattoos he has gotten from Lee are Alpha and Omega symbols on his neck and an angel on his forearm.
“If they have a problem with it, then they need to pray,” Greiner said.
Lee said he uses his job as a way to get into deep conversations with clients and share scriptures from the Bible with them. He never tries to push his beliefs on anyone. He only shares his faith with those who ask him questions.
“For me to step into this field at all, I have to know what I am talking about,” Lee said.
Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
230 Stones River Mall Blvd.
Opens Jan. 1