Ricky Watts is an artist known for his eye-catching murals that feature an explosion of color with interlacing shapes and patterns. His mastery using spray paint is evident with his clean application and intricate layering. Watts resides in Northern California and has worked all over the U.S. and abroad including Los Angeles, New York City, London, Portland, Philadelphia, and more as the list is constantly growing. In this interview, Ricky shares his thoughts on public art, his unique style, and creative process when creating murals.
Kayla: How would you describe your unique style? What is your creative process in creating murals?
Ricky Watts: The style that I am best known can simply be described as psychedelic, abstract eye-candy. Someone called it “Space Rainbows” once which I enjoyed. Sometimes I’ll say that when asked the dreaded “what’s it supposed to be?” question.
Very little planning beforehand goes into my painting process. I have an idea in my head and I have the materials I need but I never have a sketch prepared beforehand. My work is created spontaneously, constantly building off of itself as I work. I like to start in the top right corner and work my way down until the entire surface is covered.
Kayla: What is your philosophy on public art?
Ricky Watts: Public art brings energy to a community. I feel this energy every time I paint a mural. People are genuinely interested and appreciative of what is going on. Public art brings color and freshness to a community and I feel very fortunate to be able to give that gift.
Kayla: Who/what inspired you to get involved in the public art scene?
Ricky Watts: I started messing around with spray-paint when I was 13 years old (1993-1994). Back then it was “in” thing to do, all the kids in my circle had a graffiti alias so I felt like I needed one too. After a while, the fad trickled away but I was hooked. Seriously, I fell for spray-paint and the art of graffiti hard, as did a handful of my friends. They’re really what inspired me in the beginning and still do today.
Kayla: How much time does it typically take you to create a large-scale mural?
Ricky Watts: That’s hard to say, it depends on a lot of variables. If I’m painting a mural in another area, I have X amount of time before I have to get on the plane and go home so that plays a part. If I’m painting a local mural, I can spend more time working on it. I can tell you this, the last mural I did was approx. 4000 square-feet and it took me 10 long days and approx. 450 cans of paint.
Photo by: Gary Kaplan
Kayla: What do you think the future of street art will be?
Ricky Watts: This question is always so tough to answer. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t consider myself a street artist. In fact, I loathe the term street art. I consider myself an artist or a muralist who uses spray paint as a medium to create something larger. There will always be public art or murals painted. I don’t see that going away anytime soon. I’ve noticed in the last number of years the “mural festival” idea really taking off. If I had to say where I thought the future of “street art” was going, I’d say in the direction of more mural festivals throughout the world.
Kayla: Any additional information that you would like people to know about you or your work?
Ricky Watts: Somehow this always ends up turning into a rant or a venting session for me so this time, I’m going to say no. I would like to thank you for the interest in my work. I appreciate the opportunity to tell you more about me.
Website is rickywatts.com and I can be found on most social media sites by searching "rickywatts."
Photos courtesy of Ricky Watts.