Ellijay, GA – Justin Howard is a native of Florida that moved to Georgia a few years ago when given the chance.“I got the opportunity to move to north Georgia in 2013 and I got the opportunity to work on my cousin’s ranch, they have a 100-acre ranch in talking rock, Georgia, just south of Ellijay, Georgia,” says Howard.
Justin was a welder back in Florida, and one day while at his cousin’s ranch, something captured his attention.
“I happened to see some horseshoes laying around the barn and I decided to go ahead and buy another welder just to tinker around a little bit,” says Howard. “I made a few pieces and went to the local farmers market and people really liked it, so I started making more, and just a few months later, I decided to do it full time.”
That’s when he started Justin’s Horseshoe Art. He has since grown that business into more than just farmer’s markets.
“I’ve been doing it for a little over four years now,” says Howard. “I do about 25 festivals, rodeos, craft shows a year, I have a website and local antique store in downtown Ellijay called TJ and Company.”
Justin says that he loves getting to be creative and make things with his hands, but it’s the reactions from customers and people that stop by his booth that he loves most.
“The thing I enjoy most about what I do is just getting to meet so many different people at all the different festivals and rodeos I get to attend, because they come to my booth and they just love it. I just love it when people enjoy it and just think it’s amazing. I think it’s pretty cool myself, that’s why I enjoy it. I enjoy looking at it and using it as well,” says Howard.
Making the art is actually a good bit of work, so much that he had to get someone to help him.
“The whole process of getting the horseshoes and getting them cleaned and actually building something is a very labor-intensive process,” says Howard. “So, a lot of times I do need help. I do have a full-time employee right now and have pretty much kept somebody full time for the last 4 years.”
It actually ends up being a two-way deal, as the people that help him are people that are needing some help in life themselves.
“I actually use a place called the Isaiah house, right here in Ellijay, Georgia. It’s a halfway house for men that suffer from addiction and alcoholism, which I have also suffered from, so it’s part of me, getting to work with those guys, not just as a labor perspective but also as a mentor and positive encouragement,” says Howard.
At the end of the day, he is just thankful that he gets to do something he loves and that makes him happy.
“I just feel very fortunate to get to do what I do. It’s something I absolutely love to do, and I believe that some decisions I made in my life that God gave me these talents to be able to do something that I love and I’m extremely grateful to get to do it,” says Howard.
By: John Holcomb