We had the good fortune of connecting with Joel Rice and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Joel, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
If I were to tell someone starting out in my industry what was most important, it’d be this: Never be satisfied. Never be completely happy with what you’re doing or where you are in any of the aspect of your craft- your technical skill level, your manner with your clientele, your design, your composition, line work, balance, dynamism, color theory- you can always learn more, you can always do better. There’s always another level to be reached. As a tattooer, I have definitely come to measure my success in two different ways. Both my growth as an artist and earning a more comfortable living are the greatest driving forces in my career. Tattooing is an industry where one almost invariably follows the other, meaning the better you get, the more money you make. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being pleased with your successes, just so long as you’re planning on how the next one will be even better! There are, of course, other factors involved, but in the long run better work means more clients. Avoiding complacency and striving for excellence may seem like obvious answers, but an any person with a creative job knows, it’s still a job. No one is immune of falling into ruts in what they do all day every day. I’m lucky to have a wonderful family, a wonderful crew at Olde School Tattoo, and fantastic group of clients whose continuous support and praise have kept me trying to make each new tattoo my best tattoo. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
One thing that ( would say sets me apart from other tattoo artists is the importance I place on my designs being INSTANTLY recognizable. It’s a sad truth that over and over again tattoo clients hear “Wow, I love your new tattoo….what is it?” That’s not to say that these are badly done tattoos, but too much detail in too little space, overly busy design, lack of variation in line weight or boldness, and overly saturated backgrounds can all make what would’ve been a clearly readable image into a confusing conflagration. When someone comes to me to get a custom original design tattooed, they can expect that I’m going to do everything I can to leave them with a striking, impressive piece of art that will have strangers stopping them in the street! It’s a great feeling to see someone’s eyes widen In surprise at just how awesome their piece came out. That clarity and recognizability of design is the hallmark of a striking tattoo, something that will make the tattoo’s owner stand out, not just from the average crowd, but even among people with lots of tattoos! Animal tattoos are some of my favorite and this concept is very important here. I use bold lines, illustrative stylization, dynamism and depth to create powerful images that are read at once by the eye as something it’s seen before – a shark gnashing after a fish, an owl taking flight from a perch, a Cooper’s hawk swooping in front of the billowing pink and purple clouds of a sunset. All of these things have a beautiful simplicity in their shapes and movement that be captured in a single image. It’s that simple image of recognizable movement I base my design]s on, and the detail is in getting every shade and tone and tiny line just right. The challenges I’ve faced in getting to where I am now were greatest when I was first starting out. To become a professional tattooer, one must complete a formal apprenticeship under a professional tattooer with both the knowledge and experience to create safe and consistent habits in a pupil. The average apprenticeship last 18 to 24 months and usually the apprentice works their first year or two as a professional at the shop where they apprenticed in order to gain experience. Unfortunately, about 2 months after I completed my apprenticeship, management at the shop began to unravel, leading the shop to close only a few months later. Established and reputable tattoo parlors rarely wish to hire an artist with less than a year of experience, but I doggedly pursued every possible opportunity- I worked at another shop that closed due to the owners personal issues, a frustrating experience to say the least. Creatives are notorious for being difficult managers and the tattoo industry is

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The sad truth is that my two most favorite places of all time in Atlanta have closed down, never to return- Dante’s Down-the-Hatch and the old Masquerade. But there’s still plenty of great stuff to do. When I take a trip it’s all about great meals and group fun – We’d spend the week eating at places like Lucky’s Burgers and Brew in Roswell or Eclipse di Luna in Midtown, two of my favorites. Laser tag at LaserQuest and Of course a visit to the museum of Coca Cola, a must for any trip to Atlanta! Since I live less than a mile from the Chatahoochee, I’d also always recommend a visit to the Chatahoochee Nature Center to see all the animals that have been saved through their wildlife rehabilitation program.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I think about all the people who helped me get to where I am, and there are a lot- both personal and professional, but anything I good I do in my life is because of my parents. Not because the gave me life, but because they never gave up on me when I was more lost than any person should ever have to be.

Website: Www.oldeschooltattoo.com
Instagram: @joelricetattoo

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