“I wish I could say that I chose art because it’d be a lot easier to quit if I could, but art is something that’s been inside me long before I knew what it was or knew that I wanted to be an artist.”
With that one statement, San Francisco-born artist Ricky Watts both embodies his own personal graffiti art drive to create art as well as the drive of mural artists all across the globe. Truly, to learn about Ricky Watts art is to learn about a man who embodies the love of street art.
As a kid, Ricky Watts spent most of his days emulating the comics he loved and creating his own storylines featuring Godzilla-like creatures, the army, and ensuing battles. Ricky channeled his childhood curiosity and ability to create new ideas, no matter how crazy they were, into his older years. Progressing through high school, Ricky Watts was filling sketchbook after sketchbook with more detailed and intricate illustrative art. Coincidentally enough, it was about this time in his skill level that the artist discovered graffiti art. He spent his adolescent days exploring ideas both on paper and on plaster.
Ricky Watts' Life in Workforce America
Artist Ricky Watts always found graffiti art to be his home simply because it channeled his creativity and pushed his boundaries in a way no other medium could. He found street art challenging him to create something purely unique in just the space of a few minutes. Armed with this passion for his craft, the artist packed up and took his skills to the Art Institute of California in San Diego. The structure that was introduced to him in college life coupled with his post-college print career suffocated the wild creative inside the artist. While he appreciates the time he spent developing his skills, freelance was the ultimate place for Ricky Watts artwork to journey to.
Living in a society which demands the structure of post-secondary education followed by a corporate 9-5, artist Ricky Watts faced the same struggle many street artists find themselves tackling, how to earn money in the world of freelance. While scared, Ricky knew he couldn’t turn back to sitting in front of a computer eight hours a day, five days a week. His love for mural art would take Ricki Watts graffiti beyond the cubicle and into the unknown, no matter how dark that unknown seemed.
“I quit my last job about five years ago , and I’ve never regretted that decision, you know. I think it was the best decision that I’ve ever made. I love what I do, and I’m happy doing what I want to be doing.” (quote from 2014)
The Duality of Ricky Watts Artwork
Ricky Watts is an illustrative artist by day, mural artist by night so to speak. In other words, Ricky Watts artwork is twofold, and he channels both aspect of his craft with two very different style. Ricky describes the illustrative art side of his life as fantasy realism. Those who view artwork by Ricky Watts see magical environments filled with original characters that are birthed from his creative representation of the world that the artist inhabits. However, the structure of his illustration does not translate to his mural art.
For many years, Ricky Watts would spray paint lettering onto canvas until he experimented with removing the structure of the letters, leaving the abstract flow of the colors. Ricky Watts mural art is colorful, flowing, and lacking all sense of structure, completely up to viewer interpretation. Ricky Watts murals glean inspiration from the world around him in which he constantly gathers source material to use in his creative brainstorms and combines different elements to explore a sense of cohabitation. This translates to the mural art world with large scale works often featuring fluid bands of color intersecting and intertwining, coexisting on the canvas of the building and teaching those who view artwork by Ricky Watts the beauty of the abstract.
Maintaining Focus and Drive
“I used to think maybe I’m doing this for me, but, but really my art is gonna outlive my body, and it’s gonna be around for my kids and my grandkids. That, I think, is what really motivates me to really keep pushing and to work hard.”
With the reality that his mural art and illustrative work is not a testament to himself, but rather to the world, the artist Ricky Watts has found new purpose and creativity in his passion. Ricky Watts mural work exists so that the world can be a better place and so beauty can seep into it at his hand. Yet, the artist is creating for the beauty of the creative process. Watts would be just as happy with an art for art sake’s existence as he is with helping others.
“If people like what I do, that’s awesome, but I think I would be doing art even if nobody ever saw it. I do it just because it makes me happy.”
What The Future Holds...
With both his illustration and mural art, Ricki Watts stays busy producing work both for sheer entertainment and for commissions. One of his most recent clients was Fogbelt Brewing which utilized Ricky Watts artwork on their label as well as auctioning off the original print to the Make A Wish foundation in California.
Much of the artist’s work features prints and paintings he crafts (such as Color Cover-Up) for his many gallery openings. His most recent gallery opening was at the Montclair Gallery in Oakland, CA. His mural art has also been a very active part of his present career. July of 2018 marked his largest mural art piece to date at the Las Vegas Circus Center while Ohio marked yet another site for a Ricky Watts mural work during the Sonic Temple Festival. As his body of work begins to grow, so does Ricky’s insatiable appetite for the unique. And hey, if you want to own a personal part of Ricky Watt’s artwork, check out his signed coloring books.
Perhaps, more than anything, Ricki Watts is an encouragement to artists stuck in a 9-5, hindered in their creativity yet scared to venture into the unknown. Even the most famous artists were scared at one point to take the necessary risks, but the payoffs were extraordinary.