It's hard to find a good tattoo artist, someone you can trust to permanently mark your body. When I decided to get a second tattoo, I headed over to Off the Wall with a vague design involving a quote, a bear and mistaken ideas about my own pain threshold. Rick, the artist, whipped out a pen and sketched, on my back, what he thought I was talking about. Within minutes, he had come up with art that captured exactly what I had in mind, only with a kind of flair that I could've never imagined.
Why do they call you Rickey Racer? Well, my fashion sense, for one. I have probably 50, 60 pairs of goggles.
Goggles? I just like them. That feeling of being of superhero or something.
How long have you been tattooing? About three years. Been drawing my whole life.
Didn't you draw for Spawn Comics? Freelanced for Spawn. Big difference. The money isn't steady. You never know when they're going to call. It took me a while to figure out that tattooing is what I want to do. I had been drawing tattoos for people, but I had never thought of doing it myself. But I got lucky; a friend of mine worked at a tattoo shop and talked me into coming down and apprenticing. I'm glad now.
Does your art have a certain style? It took me about 10 or 12 years to actually figure it out. Developing your own style is pretty hard to do. You have favorite artists and you want to mimic them. In the tattoo industry you have to develop your own style to be recognized. If not, you just get lost in the shuffle. (Interrupted by my whimpering like a little girl) Yeah, and you thought it'd be a good idea to do an interview while getting tattooed.
Hey, sounded like a good idea in the office. Have you done any of your tattoos yourself? Nah, I'm not ready to tackle that stone yet. Believe it or not, I don't have a very high pain tolerance. I can sit there and take it if somebody's dishing it out, but I don't know if I could do it myself. Right, anyway.
So how much of your work is copying designs and how much is original? I try to make all of it original. People appreciate that, because it makes it more personal. I try to take a little bit of who they are and put it in the piece. A lot of people don't even care what I do. They're just like, "Man, here's my arm." Creative control is pretty much what every tattoo artists wants. To create something on somebody's skin and have them say "that's exactly what I wanted."
Do you ever have people come in and ask for things that make you wonder what the hell is wrong with them? Oh man, I don't even ask anymore. I've done the Spam logo on somebody's stomach -- that was probably the strangest. People get some stupid stuff. But then again, it's all individual art.
Has anyone ever asked you for something you wouldn't do? Yeah, in Tennessee I had a guy ask me if I would tattoo "white power" on him. You know, I'm pretty open-minded, and I realize everybody's different. I will do it as long as I can live with myself doing it. I don't want to be responsible for tattooing that on somebody who's later on down the road on America's Most Wanted and they're looking for him with his "white power" tattoo that he got from me.
I always wonder if things like that are just some bad split-second decision. Yeah, I generally try and talk people out of stuff like that. Once you do it, it'll be there. It's money out the door, but I'm more concerned with somebody's well-being than putting a couple dollars in my pocket.
Rickey can be reached at Off the Wall V, 908 C N. Circle Dr., 473-3344 or on the Web at www.pierceme.net.
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