By Carly Quellman
You may know him as @thorn.wolf, @ghost.glare.tattoo, or simply Jhonny, but regardless of the name given, there’s no mistaking Jhonny Wolf’s composed passion and reserved pride. A very warm and charismatic character, FRIENDS NYC was intrigued to learn more about the man with multiple artistic personas. We sat down with Jhonny to talk about how the graphic design-turned-tattoo artist is burying the hatchet with tattoo norms.
CQ: What’s one statement you hear a lot when someone receives a tattoo from you?
JW: That I’m really kind, which is surprising to me, because I feel as if all tattooers should be really kind to their clients. Besides it being a cool tattoo or being exactly what they wanted, that’s what I hear the most. I don’t see the point in having a ‘really cool guy’ attitude towards it when people are giving you money. I’m almost patient to a fault.
CQ: How so?
JW: A tattoo that should take me 5-10 minutes will take me an hour or two because I’ll let the person go through their motions and go through their stresses. I’ll talk them through it and then get the tattoo done. I feel like being patient is a very important part of this whole thing. That’s why I have a lot of returning clientele. They appreciate that I take the time and sometimes baby them through the tattoo. But, like, so what? It’s part of the deal.
CW: You currently work at Evil & Love, a tattoo shop in Greenpoint. Is it an all-male shop?
JW: No, no. We have three female tattooers, one female apprentice, and three female assistants.
CQ: As you know, FRIENDS NYC is female-owned. The other Spooky Tattoo Natty partners are also female. Are there any females in the tattoo business you look up to?
JW: Yeah, I actually know Ariel Wyu. She told me about the event and thought I’d make a good addition, so she invited me to come out. My friend Tamara (@tamarasantibanez), she’s a great person, one of my favorite people. Also, the women that work in my shop. (@yink_tattoos) is super dope. She plays with watercolor, fine lines, stuff like that. Lina (@linaaquinotattoo), who also works at the shop, does line drawing tattoos. She is a sweetheart. They’re cool people.
CQ: We peeped your two Instagram accounts, which significantly contrast each other in style. What would you say encompasses your all-around tattoo style?
JW: One of them is my alter-ego (@ghost.glare.tattoo). That’s my fine-line, very minimalistic tattoos and actually most of my clientele. My main focus is American traditional tattoos (@thorn.wolf), which are more refined, sharper edges - but with a spookier twist than the very loose style a lot of people are doing nowadays.
CQ: So of course, you know we’re gonna ask what’s on your flash for our event… Is it safe to assume we’ll see some minimalistic drawings for Spooky Tattoo Natty?
JW: Yeah. Spooky stuff. Little ghosties, little pumpkins, little skulls…
CQ: You are leaving soon for a trip to San Francisco, California. What are you doing out there and what do you hope to bring back with you to New York?
JW: I’m going to be spending time at the Bay Area Tattoo Convention, which is something I’ve been doing for the past eight years or so, even before I was tattooing. It’s just really good to recharge my batteries and see everyone so I can be creative throughout the winter. In the winter time, it gets a little bit slower in all tattoo shops. That’s when we’re trying to do our drawings and designs and really put in some mental work.
CQ: What else do you have planned for this year?
JW: This year I think I want to do more conventions. With the shop I’m at now, I think it’s a super solid crew. It’s the most comfortable I’ve felt with a crew in a very long time. I think that’s going to be good for my mental and artistic growth. We support each other in a positive way, so I’m looking forward to more events with them.
CQ: So it’s kind of like family?
JW: Yeah, yeah. Our next big one [convention] is Philly in February. We’re going out as a shop so it’s gonna be 10 or 12 of us. Even just in the shop, even when we’re not going out, it’s pretty cool. I’ve only been there five months, but it’s been awesome.
CQ: What got you into tattooing?
JW: Getting tattooed. I went to school for graphic design. I had a little stint in the summertime at a graphic design office. That’s when I was like, “Man this is way more boring than I thought it was going to be.” I was doing people’s little business cards and stuff. That was when I was 19. Around that time I was was starting to get tattooed. I liked that it was hands-on, not computer generated. It’s very tactical - the pencil, the pen, the marker - and then you create it with your hands.
CQ: It’s tangible.
JW: Yeah. I was a graffitti kid, a graphic design kid. So I fell in love with the art, too. It really just changed the course of my life. It was pretty insane, climbing up that ladder for a few years, and then moving to New York for tattooing. It really spoke to me, and I’ve dedicated my entire life to it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If Jhonny isn’t traveling to different tattoo conventions, you can find him at another kind of convention - Comic Con. “I’m really into Anime and all that kind of stuff. Maybe people see me and don’t think so, but I like to do that whole thing. I’m just a super big fan of dressing up, Halloween, and really being goofy like that.” - Jhonny Wolf
Jhonny will be at FRIENDS NYC October 28 from 3-7 p.m. laying down some impressive flash tattoos. We can’t promise he’ll be dressed up in costume, but at Spooky Tattoo Natty, anything is possible. To see more of Jhonny’s work, follow him on Instagram @thorn.wolf and @ghost.glare.tattoo.
We look forward to seeing all our favorite boo-gey (wo)men and ghoul-friends this Sunday… Dancing In the Moonlight.