The Artist: Justin Weatherholtz [NYC feature]

Justin Weatherholtz Lo Res_ASH_9042

Name: Justin Weatherholtz

Profession: Tattoo Artist at Kings Avenue Tattoo, New York

Instagram: @justinweatherholtz

The Story:

I arrive at the corner of Bowery and Grand Street, to a locked door.

Before I can complete a search on my phone for the shop’s number, the door opens and I’m face to face with Justin Weatherholtz, Tattoo Artist at Kings Avenue Tattoo. Despite my 1.79-metre stature, Justin towers a head above me, it’s no surprise that outside of tattooing he loves a game of basketball or two. We exchange mandatory introductions at front door, its a sunny winter morning in New York, at a comfortable 10 degrees Celsius (thereabouts) the chill doesn’t beckon us indoors so quickly. His introduction is casual and unassuming; his smile, honest and sincere.

We walk up a flight of stairs and enter a cosy studio space. At first glance, I count five, or was it six(?), tattoo stations. To my right, an artist is hunched over his lightbox, sketching. away. Perhaps my entrance is a brief but welcome break, he raises his head to say a quick hi, before continuing with his sketch. There’s a pair of couches in the middle of the room, but Justin directs me to the far left of the shop and we settle down at two tattoo stations.

Just before we’re about to start, Justin’s phone rings. “Double shot Americano with a little milk and sugar please?” I overhear Justin’s coffee order to someone on the other end.

Justin Weatherholtz is no stranger to tattoos, his musician dad was into Rock n’ Roll, hot rods and custom culture, as he shares “tattoos were pretty much entrenched in the culture”. Growing up, he remembers tagging along with his dad to meet friends in the hot rod and rock n’ roll circles. As a kid, he was constantly drawing and “into comics” and at 15 he got a hold of his first tattoo magazine and hasn’t looked back since. Throughout the interview, Justin is candid but reserved, pensively pausing before responding to my questions.

As for his formal career, Justin started in 1999 through an apprenticeship with Joe Johns of Wizards World of Tattoos, Stowe, Pennsylvania, and has been tattooing for 14 years now.

“I got to know Joe through the tattoos I got. I loved the way it looked and knew that I wanted to create awesome tattoos as well. So I tried many ways to convince Joe to take me on as an apprentice. After much persuasion and he finally caved. That was one of the best days ever!”

It wasn’t until a year into his apprenticeship that he was allowed to tattoo.

“That year felt so long. But looking back, I wouldn’t have traded that for anything else. I am where I am now because of these opportunities.”

After Justin was done with his apprenticeship he continued tattooing at Wizards World till 2007. After which he decided to move to New York and subsequently joined the crew at Kings Avenue Tattoo.

“The opportunity was there…, so I decided to move to NYC to join the great people at Kings Avenue Tattoo, I knew I had to take it… Having been here (Kings Avenue Tattoo) for 6 years now, their support has allowed me to be a better tattoo artist.”

With the opportunity to work alongside artists like Mike Rubendall, Frankie Caraccioli and Gregz (just to name a few), Justin was certain that it would be the right place to further improve his skills and art. As he admits, it is a real pleasure and honor to be working at Kings Avenue Tattoo. The shop has given him access to many people, especially artists who have influenced him and whose work he admire, all of whom have helped him develop his craft and be where he is now.

“My greatest influence would have to be the people that helped me to be where I am now. Joe, the shop (Kings Ave) and the things that I experience everyday. The Kings Avenue crew, in particular, has helped me to look and approach tattoos in a way that is more than an art and work. But to embrace the entire culture and to do the best, always.”

With that in mind, Justin reflects as to what are some of the biggest lessons that tattooing has taught him.

“The importance is to always be accountable for one’s action. Also, to always take advantage of the opportunity presented and always love the things that I do. Tattooing has given me everything and I do not regret anything.”

During the interview, Justin openly shares about his passion for music. The occasional jammer loves being a drummer, and admits he’d be in music if his plans as a Tattoo Artist didn’t pan out. Just as we conclude the interview, Justin’s coffee arrives. I chuckle to myself as I recall his Instagram – a self-described “Tattooer, Music Maker, Coffee Enthusiasts, Fun Haver and Man”, he checks all the boxes.

He thanks me and takes a sip, “Finally, I’m having my coffee.”

Justin is planning a tattoo convention in his hometown – Reading, Pennsylvania, together with Joe Johns in August 2014. We hope to catch up with him again to check in on his progress. Till then, all the best Justin.

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The Tattoo Treasury

4 Responses to “The Artist: Justin Weatherholtz [NYC feature]”
  1. Dan says:

    Super dope story, saw this on Justin’s instagram. You definitely should try to interview more of the guys from Kings Avenue if possible all great dudes and interesting artists.

    • Hello Dan!! Thank you so much for you comments and nice words, really appreciate it very much. Sadly I didn’t have enough time to interview the rest of the team this time around. Should I head back to NYC again I would definitely interview the other guys from Kings Avenue.

  2. I enjoyed the interview very much. I’ve known Justin all his life and he has always been an amazing person! I haven’t seen him since he moved to NY, so it was nice to hear he is happy and doing what he loves.

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