ARTIST MEETS INDUSTRY POWERHOUSE
Kings Avenue’s own Justin Weatherholtz is a great example of artist meets industry powerhouse. I imagine him embarking on new projects the same way he’d approach a tattoo- expectant only of his own abilities, and leaving the rest up to the people who love and support his talent. His creative style is hard to pinpoint and easy to digest- and it comes together whether he’s putting needle to skin or print to wall. His imagery speaks for itself; self aware and prominent, it digs into the history of not only tattoo culture, but also subculture, meshing into an uninterrupted narrative that speaks to the evolution of the artist and art form through the characters and visual storytelling that inspired him to tattoo in the first place.
I get the feeling that Justin would take any design he was brought and fit it into that narrative seamlessly, but in terms of the body of work I’ve seen online, he’s heavy on the classics and the way they can be manipulated to speak a little louder and say a little more. The human obsession with symbols of death and decay acting as a catalyst for a certain way of living could be trivial, but Justin’s hand makes it a physical thing, putting it past the whimsy. The same goes for the action- inspired scenes he renders, hinting at mythology, and all sorts of age-old relationships meant to reflect human nature. His portfolio spans from the medieval and tarot- based to the Japanese- influenced, and further on to an illustrative, more nuanced representation of fiction.The most recent tattoo he’s posted, for example, pictures the head of Medusa, slightly re-imagined but, for the most part, acting as a vessel for whatever part of himself the receiver sees in that immediately recognizable symbol.
In that sense, Justin’s hand is the tool as much as it is the mastermind. His practice doesn’t impose itself on a standard or creative expectation other than a technical one- and in that way, it remains open to change and inspiration. He’s hard to pigeonhole, and that’s what matters when tattooing goes beyond the shop. Justin’s ideas manifest themselves in a way that includes and relies on a community, and an always growing one at that.
Along with a partner, he started the Pagoda City Tattoo Fest four years ago, imagining a convention serving the region he grew up in- a festival that has grown to include a full lineup of shop and artists, annually coming together to trade and talk tattoos. This year’s Fest is coming up soon, happening on August 3rd, 4th and 5th at the Crowne plaza Hotel right outside Philadelphia. He was also an integral part of the Open Road Tattoo Tour, taking his profession on the road and turning a classic road trip into an homage to the long reach of American tattooing. Whether it’s an event of that magnitude, or the more local print show he organized at Kings Avenue last year which I had the pleasure of seeing in person, Justin’s got his mind in a place of inclusion versus exclusivity. The tattoo community is protective of its own, but entrepreneurship has a spot among both dedication and respect for the art. Check out the Kings Avenue booth at Pagoda City, and take a look at more from Justin via the links below.
[+] JUSTIN WEATHERHOLTZ[Official] [Instagram] [Twitter]