There are defining moments in life. Ones that signify that we've made it in our respective paths. For tattoo artist Rick Walters it might have been the day a man walked into his shop and asked for a tattoo of Walters himself – a cartoon version with the words "Rick Walters Hates You." Walters complied. That could have been his moment, or maybe for him it was celebrating his fortieth year of business. It could even be the time he hung out with Jim Morrison, or jammed with Carlos Santana.
Tattoos at age 10
His "moment" may be hard to define among the sea of incredible experiences, but one thing is for sure – Rick Walters is a god among fellow tattoo artists. He recalled to Skinnie magazine having tattooed himself and other children around his neighborhood by age 10. This behavior earned him a reputation as the bad seed in the group and parents feared for their children – as many would.
But that was a long time ago. Although his career and passion no doubt started at a young age, it was still a long and winding road to fame.
Walters didn't just emerge into the body art sensation that he is today. It took him time, practice and observation. He told the source that he and a buddy would hang around shops and watch as the guys inked patron after patron. Perhaps it's through this phase of learning that he gained his appreciation for the mechanics of tattooing.
A knack for machinery
His understanding of machinery is what makes his work the way it is. He explained to the source that he'd had an affinity for machines as a young boy. You put two and two together and you get someone like Walters. A man who works creatively yet efficiently because he gets how each tool works. His knowledge is at a high enough level that it enables him to make the job less time consuming.
It seems all of his observation and hard work paid off, as his name pops up when you type "best tattoo artists" into Google. Though his portfolio demonstrates he's had a prolific career, his personal favorites are traditional American and Japanese tattoos, he explained in a YouTube video "Episode 6 – Rick Walters."
His personal life
The bearded, pot-bellied man went on to say that he's particularly enjoyed drawing eagles. From that point in the video, he jumped right into talking about his work, retirement and health.
It was his boredom with retirement that propelled him to pick up extra work here and there. Some days he heads over to the shop where his daughter works – like father, like daughter. Days when he's not there, you can find him inking pirate ships, birds, skulls, koi fish and more at the Shamrock Social Club in Hollywood.
Of course, life isn't always easy, even for guys as legendary as Walters. He opened up about his heart attack in the YouTube video. He had to have surgery that almost killed him, he explained. Despite his tryst with poor health, Walters has trucked on and continues to do what he's always been drawn to – tattooing.
Learn from the best
It's his perseverance, hard work and – heck – his insane stories that make him an excellent teacher. People go to Walters probably because they want to learn from the best. He told Skinnie Magazine about his teaching style.
"I'm quick to remind people that I take under my wing that they're not gonna' just learn about how to ink," Walters explained to the source. "They're going to learn about why they're doing this. I think that's extremely important. You have to understand the core principles if you want to be an able artist and develop your own style. That's my number one goal."
Saying that Walters lived an interesting life would be an understatement. Despite his experiences, he's still humble enough to discover new influences and styles at expos, he told Skinnie Magazine.
Life lessons for all
Artists and aspiring artists who revere him can find comfort and motivation in his story. It's that no matter what hand you're dealt in life, your passions keep you going. If you're stuck finding your way, reflect on your childhood. What are the factors that kept you going? What were you always getting yourself in to? Maybe the answers are that simple.
Whatever your path, take a page out of Walter's book. For him, it's not about simply working – it's a labor of love, as stated by Skinnie Magazine. Slow down. Take your time. Create. And take a trip to California if you want to meet the legend yourself. Even if you spontaneously get a "Rick Walters Hates Me" tattoo, you don't have to live with tattoo regret. These days, there's laser tattoo removal.
Over 45 million US adults* are living with tattoos, but now permanent ink can be a thing of the past. PicoSure® is the world's latest breakthrough technology in laser tattoo removal providing faster results in fewer treatments. Visit www.picosurear.wpengine.com to learn more and find a PicoSure Practitioner near you. * Source: Harris Interactive, 2012