Social media forever altered our perception, in ways both large and small. Not only has it changed the way we look at other people, it changed the way we present ourselves to the world. With every post he makes on Instagram, Adam Weitsman is fully aware of the latter.
“I try to maintain a positive message and be somewhat inspirational,” Weitsman explains. “I’ve had a roller coaster life. I’ve been up, I’ve been down and, hopefully, back up now. I just want to show people that even when you’re down you can still have a good comeback in you if you work hard enough.”
Weitsman is currently in the midst of his own comeback. After getting caught kiting checks, he spent close to a year incarcerated. It was a stupid mistake and one he openly fesses up to. In the end, the banks ended up not losing any money and Weitsman works with the same institutions to this day. He’s made the most out of his opportunity to start over by trying to spread good vibes everywhere he goes.
This comes across most powerfully when the unassuming Weitsman starts talking about his home in upstate New York. The path people usually take leads from upstate to the big city to Instagram influencer status, never to return to the small town again. Weitsman’s done the exact opposite.
After spending some time running an art gallery in New York City after college, Weitsman returned home to take care of the family business after tragedy struck. “My little sister got cancer and she passed away,” he explains. “My father was running the company, a small scrap company in upstate New York, and he asked me to come home to help for a summer because it was tough after the death of my sister. My father’s a really good guy and he’d never asked me for anything. I went back to help my father and I never left.”
While it is clear that Weitsman holds his days spent in the vibrant art scene of the Village dear to his heart, he has thrived professionally and personally since making the move. The family’s “small scrap company” became the largest privately owned scrap metal processor on the East Coast. Scrap metal recycling isn’t a glamorous profession, but it is quite a lucrative one.
Weitsman is incredibly grateful for everything he has earned, but he is cognizant of how wealth can ruin a person, particularly a child. With this in mind, he planted deep roots. “I still have the same house I’ve had for 30 years,” he explains. “It’s a tiny house in a very modest neighborhood. I’ll always keep that because I want my daughters to grow up in that kind of setting. I don’t want them to be fooled by all the flash of the other stuff I’ve been doing.”
Weitsman’s cherished relationship with his daughters is reflected not just in the environment he wishes to raise them in but also in the tattoos he wears. On one arm he has the name of his eldest, Clover, in Hebrew. On the other arm he has a tattoo in honor of his twins, Rae and Madison. It was actually Clover who suggested he get the massive black-and-grey back piece he added this year. “My eldest daughter, she’s 10, said, ‘You should get something really cool on your back,’” Weitsman explains. “She loved it, she’s really cool. She would come down while I was in agony [getting tattooed]. There were times I wanted to tap out, but I didn’t want to look weak in front of my kid.”
Jon Davis, a tattoo artist working out of Syracuse, New York, is responsible for the David and Goliath scene on Weitsman’s back. When the two first met to discuss the piece, Weitsman wasn’t sure what imagery he was looking for, but he knew the story he was hoping to tell.
“I felt like, in life, I wasn’t really that smart, I was an average-looking guy, average pretty much everything,” Weitsman explains. “I felt like the underdog growing up, so that theme was something I wanted to go with and David and Goliath was what we found. We worked with Jon to come up with a pretty cool rendering.
“[The tattoo] took a lot of time, but it was worth it,” he continues. “It was six, seven-hour sessions. It just resonated with me because I’ve been facing uphill battles my whole life.”
You can’t tell it at first glance, but part of the back piece is a cover-up of one of the most amusing bad tattoos of all time. There was a clear thought process behind the creation of his back piece, but Weitsman was a little impetuous when it came to his first tattoo.
“When I was 18, I got a tattoo of the SoBe lizard on my lower back,” Weitsman laughs, “and it was probably the worst tattoo ever. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was with my girlfriend at the time and we were walking by tattoo shops. I thought they were closed but they had an apprentice there who did it for 20 bucks. I was trying to think of a design, she was drinking a SoBe, so I said, ‘Let’s do that.’ That’s what you do when you’re 18 and you have 20 bucks.”
For the next 20-something years, everybody who ever saw the tattoo was unable to hold in what they really thought about it. So it had to go. “I just could not get beat up anymore,” Weitsman laughs, “by every single person. Even my own mom thought it was bad! She’s this old Jewish lady, she’s like, ‘That’s horrible!’”
Considering that the back piece was designed to tell Weitsman’s story, particularly the way he has overcome obstacles as an underdog, there is a certain poetry to the way the tattoo covers up one of his past mistakes. It shows how his tattoo mistakes, much like the mistakes he made earlier in his life, will not define who Adam Weitsman is as a person.
His life will be defined by the level of generosity he shows toward his community and the positivity he radiates and spreads to the world. “Life’s still a process, but I feel like I’m in a pretty good place right now,” Weitsman says. “Success isn’t about cars or jets and all that crap, that’s just surface stuff,” Weitsman says. “I feel like this year I found happiness and I think this tattoo symbolizes that this was a good, happy year for me.”