Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Thoughtfulness can be hard to come by these days. Often, it’s all about getting the next thing out quicker, harder, louder, and in front of more eyes. In all the mayhem, it’s easy to forget the thought that goes into the projects frantically being pushed out into a sea of disposable content. Justin Henry, however, is not one to be seduced by the fast pace and flashing lights of the skateboard industry. The Quasi and Vans team rider has seen a couple of shifts over the years, but through it all has maintained a strong sense of where he’s from, what he’s about and what he’s putting out.
How you been?
Pretty good man, just kickin’ it. Trying to stay busy.
Looks like you’ve been skating a fair bit.
Yeah, for the most part I try to get out a couple of times a week. It finally got warm here in Ohio.
Where in Ohio are you?
I live in Columbus, Ohio. It’s the capital, right in the middle of the state. Born and bred, never moved, still right down the road from the parents’ house.
You staying posted there?
That’s always a funny question a lot of people ask. I always wanted to stay close to my people and what makes me comfortable. When I think of it that way, I’ll probably never move; family and close friends you can’t make anywhere else, just cause you’ve known them your whole life. It’d be hard to get out of here.
Now you can make it in skating, you don’t have to.
Definitely seems like it’s mellowed out. When I started riding for 5boro, I remember thinking, ‘If this is the team I end up getting in with, I might have to move to New York,’ just ‘cause that was their scene. But getting in with a team like Quasi, I knew right away, that’s why I sought it out and looked for it. I don’t wanna get out of Ohio; I like it here, I like the spots here, I like how the footage looks, it’s all I really knew. Watching all the local videos I just fell in love with it, it’s your home.
It seems like across the board in the Quasi team, there’s an appreciation for those kinds of mid-western towns and spots.
I’d go ahead and say it’s more across the board to everywhere in America. Richie (Dick Rizzo) and Josh (Wilson) are from New Jersey and it’s the same thing—they stay in that area, that’s what they know and everybody’s area, everybody’s hood. It’s like a game of its own, you watch your spots a little harder and closer than other spots. I think all of America is appreciated by all of us. When we do travel through the mid-west, I’m like, ‘Alright, these are my spots, I’ma take y’all around Ohio, I’ma show y’all this and that.’ And then we go out to New York and New Jersey and Richie and Josh are holding it down, showing us the goods. Then you go out to Richmond and it’s the same thing for Gilbert (Crockett). They hold it down, they know what’s good. Everywhere we’re from, we’re all full of pride.
I think that’s really strong in the videos. I personally don’t like it when a skate part jumps to China for half, because you’re just like, ‘What? That didn’t make sense.’ I always loved that Chima (Ferguson) skated Sydney a lot growing up and to this day, he kinda owns a lot of the spots.
Chima’s a great example of that. I like that. You should revisit a spot. When you’re skating, it’s not for anybody except yourself. If you want to see your progression, what’s the best way to do it? Just pull back up to a spot that you already skated and do something harder, y’know? That’s another reason why it’s cool to stay home. Me personally, growing up it was Al Davis, he’s the one. When I was young, I’d pull up to Cincinnati and he has a hill bomb spot that he shut down. To my knowledge, Al was really the only one that ever skated it. So, it’s like the whole entire hill bomb we call ‘Al Hill’ ‘cause it’s just his hill. It’s his spot. You should hold down your city. When you bring people through it should be like a showcase or somethin’ you know?
I can only imagine growing up with the Workshop and Habitat videos, being like, ‘Holy shit, they’re from Ohio.’ That had to be inspiring.
Yeah, once again, you would watch those videos a little closer because it is as close to home as you can get. All of Ohio really took pride in it. I think pride is the best word for it—you watch that with pride, any time it comes from your little niche that you grew up in, you just know how it works and how everything operates. Even like, Rob Dyrdek; dude came from the same town we’re from, so when you would see a DC Skate Plaza pop up you get a little inspired because it’s your people. He obviously went and did some other stuff that I don’t know if I can ride with, he moved out and switched out and stuff, but he’s a hustler for sure. I like that.
You’ve been working on a new part.
Yeah, just been working on this Quasi part.
Have you mostly been filming in your hometown?
Nah, we’ve been all throughout America. But even before quarantine, I was trying to lock in some stuff in Ohio to finish it out, so I guess the quarantine in some way has worked in my favour because I wanted to stay around these areas.
So, you’ve still been going out just with a filmer? Who do you film with out there?
I film with a few different dudes. I go out with my buddies Joe Charlton and Jacob Brandt a lot; we go out pretty heavy. We’ll do missions, just a filmer and I. If I’m gonna go film a trick, it’s definitely no summertime barbeque. It’s cutty, I’m not trying to be out with too many people. With all this going on I just think, whatever you think you need to do, just be safe with it and know there’s a crisis on our hands, so just be smart. If you need to stay inside because of all this and that, you gotta do it. If you gotta go to work cause your job’s knocking on your door, you gotta go to work.
Try to be mindful about everything you are doing.
Exactly, just know your surroundings. Know what’s going on and be alert. All this is so serious, whether you’re scared of the virus or not, people are just struggling right now, businesses, families.
Dakota (Mullins) was saying the first skate photo he shot was of you. Was that your first photo too?
Nah, it was just a random one. Dakota always hung out and skated, and then one day I was filming a trick downtown in Columbus and the filmer, my buddy Joe, had a DSLR in his bag. Dakota was like, ‘Dude, I’ll shoot the photo. Let me know what to do and I’ll shoot it.’ He shoots the photo and then from then on he just shot photos. It was fuckin’ sick.
He mentioned working on some stuff with you for Vans?
Yeah, so I have a Vans colourway coming out and a tote bag.
What kinda tote we talking?
My auntie gave me a bag a few years ago that I was just running heavy, so we kinda based it off that.
Damn, that’s really sick you can be involved the whole way and aren’t handed a colourway.
You know what’s funny? I always thought about that. I would have been grateful for whatever they gave me, but I did think, ‘Man, it’d be cool to get a colourway and actually pick what goes into it.’ I would have been happy if they came at me with a colour, I’d just hope and pray it was a good colour.
Do you get to have the same kind of input with Quasi? Oh wait… you don’t have a board out yet, huh?
Nah, I’m still Am. I don’t have a board.
I think of you as being pro, so I was thinkin’ about board graphics.
I appreciate that though! At least you think highly of me.
You’ve been around for a hot minute now.
I mean, it’s been a minute, but also hasn’t. The Mother part was my first real piece of work for a company in the industry, but besides that everything else was just hustling on my own, nothing for a company. I’ve had stuff in edits and things like that too, but in my eyes, I base it off video parts.
These days are kinda different, you don’t work on a video part for four years like you used to.
I guess. I’m not saying that I’m old or anything, but I started skating when I was six years old, so I’ve seen the difference in media platforms changing, putting out footage quicker, which is an interesting one, but I just try to keep it balanced. If dudes want a part, I’ll work on a part. If they want a tour edit, I’m down for it all.
I think it’s good to go about things the right way and not turn pro too early.
There’s definitely premature going pro. You never want that, I just want to make sure that if I get to turn pro, whatever company that turns me pro, looks at me like a pro. Like, you are up there with the rest of the professionals in the industry. I always believe you’ve got to put the work in no matter what. I know when the time’s right, that’s why being with a company like Quasi and working with Chad (Bowers), I believe in all his decisions. When he decides that, I know I’ll actually be ready. Until then I just put my head down and film and do whatever I need to do.
Between Quasi and Vans, you’re in good decision-making hands. How did you end up on Quasi?
When the company first came out as ‘Mother Collective,’ and I first saw that offering, you hear through people in Ohio, ‘Oh, this is another company from Ohio with Chad Bowers.’ Instantly I was like, ‘Oh, I like the team, I like all that,’ so I just reached out to them and sent them all my footage in an email. He just gave me an email back with constructive criticism but real words. When I read it, I was like, ‘this dude,’ even though he didn’t put me on then and there, he gave me words that I felt like he was already investing in me. He was trying to get me on a new level that he knew I needed to get to. Then I ended up going to a Quasi barbeque a couple months after I sent the footage and I was just skating around, doing my thing. We ended up meeting and he was stoked that he saw me in person skating, he was fuckin’ with it, so he started flowin’ me right there and got a box to me that week. I got my first box on my birthday.
Damn, that’s sick.
It was my 20th birthday.
How old are you?
I like the fact that you stuck to your guns. A lot of people jump to the first opportunity that comes their way.
You walk a fine line, though, when you do that. It’s not a bad thing to go with the first offer, you’re just trying to get in. If you do end up denying people and you don’t get on the team that you want, then it’s like, who’s in the wrong? You definitely have to be smart with what you do. I remember reading all these interviews when I was younger that were like, ‘If you just don’t worry about it, everything you need will come to you, if you just work hard and stick to what you believe.’ I swear that’s how that happened, and I fell in with the right people.
When are you planning on putting this video out?
There’s no release date. That’s honesty. I dunno, with Chad and Quasi, when it’s ready. That’s the best way to put a date on it, it has to be ready. It’s gonna be this year though, for sure.