We had the good fortune of connecting with Luka Weinberger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Luka, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I changed career paths, it was with the intention of utilizing my talents and passions in a way that impacts others on a personal and societal level. No matter what you do, there is always a way you can make positive impact. It was difficult to halt a career that was starting to finally gain traction, but I knew that if I continued in that direction, I would look back in ten years and regret that I didn’t go with my gut, which was to become a tattoo artist and muralist to serve communities, as well as people who looked to tattoos as a way to cultivate a new love for themselves and their bodies.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I remember the first year after graduating from my bachelor’s program. I had graduated summa cum laude, yet it was difficult to find opportunities to create income with my art. I was skilled, but directionless. So I took on jobs as an art installer for galleries and museums in LA and Orange County, and on all my lunch breaks, I drew a new animal or portrait. It was an exercise for me to push my realism skills, even if commissions were few and far between. Then, I started painting every night after work- again, just studies. Soon, demand for commissions went up. And when I became a tattoo artist, all the hours I had put into drawing and painting fast tracked me through my apprenticeship- instead of two or so years, it took less than one. I had to quit art installing in the side because I was too busy. But it all started with drawing every day, and drawing the things that brought me joy. This is key to sustaining an artistic practice over a period of years.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a great question. I have curated such visits before, and always have a blast. Let’s pretend this is 2019, of course. So we would spend one day up in Malibu: Getty Villa to check out the amazing architecture, seafood lunch with bikers at Neptune’s Net, and picnic at Will Roger’s Beach, where we could hang until night and listen to the seals. Another day would be at the Zoo, where we could check out all kinds of illegal botanical plants that have been confiscated from the airport and given a new home. We would also check ahead of time to see if there were any speakers or workshops happening. I was able to meet Jane Goodall once. Then, a trip to the Griffith Observatory for the views inside and out. Finally, a bit of a schlep to Katsu-Ya on Glendale to split a bottle of sake and get the omakayase treatment from my favorite sushi chef, Leo. You can’t hang out in LA without checking out the Westside. That’s where I first landed when I moved to the west coast, so I spent a great deal of time there. Nighthawks for a boozy Vietnamese fusion brunch, a walk around the canals, and then taking the party to the pier to wrestle seagulls who want your burrito. We would also need to stop by Bergamot Station to check out some local artists. I’ve worked with Kent Yoshimura on a few of his murals in Little Tokyo, so we would absolutely go on a little tour there. More amazing food, including Donatsu donuts and Shin-Sen-Gumi ramen. Angel City brewery would also be a must. And I would want us to check out the Broad, as well as the La Brea Tar Pits and Natural History Museum to stair at bones. They always have some amazing pieces up. Finally, a trip to Long Beach and San Pedro. I lived there for a couple years, and it was my primary date spot. It would be Tuesday so we could do karaoke at Alex’s Bar, as well as a whiskey tasting at the Blind Donkey. During the day, we could check out some murals from Pow Wow all around town, and get some fresh catches at the Port o’ Call in San Pedro. Oh, and for not-dead fish, the Aquarium. So…lots of art, animals, alcohol, and food. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would say that right now I want to thank Ina McCart and Jaci Lütttgen. I met them when I was traveling in Berlin during a very tough time in my life. They showed me the murals and public art of the city, and I couldn’t describe the feeling I got looking at art that had such feeling and historical significance. They were the ones who asked if I had ever considered tattooing as an art form, as I had been transfixed by the tattoos I had seen there. Jaci told me I would be great at it, and Ina told me she had a pal with a tattoo shop back in California who she would be happy to contact. That was how I got my apprenticeship. Every bit of success I’ve had since can be attributed to that week, and those individuals. I’ve met so many others on the way, but these two gave me that feeling of kismet that I’m sure many can attest to as a critical factor when taking huge risks.