By any measure, Richard Guy is a world class tattoo artist, his award winning work is respected by his fans and peers alike. However the thing that has made most people sit up and take notice in recent years is his incredible physical transformation. He was a big guy, like a lot of us have been, but what he was able to do was nothing short of jaw dropping.
I was lucky enough to have a conversation with him recently, and it was an absolute pleasure. He didn't disclose or elude to struggling with any severe mental illness, but he was very open about the depression, compulsions and neuroses that he developed from being his biggest and down to his lowest weights. So here we go, this is my conversation with Richard Guy.
Rory - Hey Rich, thank you so much for doing this. So as a little intro before we get into it can you tell me a little bit about yourself. I've got your name but your age, where you're from etc.
Richard - Born and bred in Darlington. I’m 34.
Rory - Cheers. You're obviously an award-winning artist with a particular style, do you know of any artists, TV shows, movies or what have you that stand out as an inspiration to go completely B&G (black and grey).
Richard - Nah mate. I guess collage as had an influence to do more black and grey as all I did was a lot of pencil drawing. Realism etc. Movies are a big part of me, horrors mostly. So sometimes that can inspire me if I’m doing a movie themed tattoo etc.
Rory - That makes sense, I've always liked B&G. Who are your favourite artists out at the minute?
Richard - Paul Booth still. Sandry Riffard. Elliot Koheck.
Rory - I'm a huge fan of Sandry Riffard. I've always liked super dark images defined by their highlights.
Richard - Same.
Rory - Looking at images of you and your other social media account, what you’ve done is incredible. Lost a lot of weight and put on a lot of muscle. Can you tell me how much fat you lost and how much you put back on in muscle?
Richard - I was 21 and half stone I lost 11 stone... got really underweight. Down to 9 and half. Stalled, then jumped up to just over 10 stone. Then started the gym. I’m now 13 stone.
Rory - What was it that triggered you to decide to start getting in shape?
Richard – Because I got too skinny (haha).
Rory – (haha) Of course, I meant to start losing weight in the first place. The pictures are fucking nuts.
Richard - Because I was overweight, mate. I didn’t want to be a fat dad. I’ve got a daughter. I must have been an embarrassment.
Rory - I don't think you'd be an embarrassment, but that makes sense. I'm still a big dude but I was far bigger than I was. I got to 22 stone, mine was addiction. Just depressed and ate and drank. Do you know how you got to your biggest in the first place? Were you partying and just not taking your health seriously or do you think there was some addiction or something?
Richard - Nah mate it crept up on me. Just from life an tattooing. Was easier to grab take aways and just when you’re always busy. I barely drank. It was just convenience. And as years passed the weight came on more and more. I didn’t exercise or do the gym.
Rory - I get you. I was always on the road with work and that didn't help at all. Eating out of garages and hotels etc. How did you manage to stay focused for long enough to do what you've done? Just super important to you? And what kind of exercise do you do?
Richard - To lose weight or the gym work now?
Rory - Both really.
Richard - I had weight loss surgery that made me lose weight. And now I’m fighting against it to gain decent weight. I have 2 coaches that do my food plans weekly and training. One is a strength coach I use twice a week in his gym. The other is a body builder that has given me a push, pull, leg split routine with food plans weekly. Mixing up both aesthetics with strength training as helped me put better weight on quicker.
Rory - That's brilliant, man. And do you have any plans to compete in anything, strength or body building or is it purely for you?
Richard - At the moment I’m in it just for me. The bodybuilding has crossed my mind but I’m a very long way off that.
Rory - That makes sense, there’s plenty of time for that too. I've always liked the thought of doing a power-lifting meeting, but I royally fucked my knee a few years ago, it wouldn't take it I don't think. Do you have an end goal of weight or strength or any bench marks in mind or just go with the flow?
Richard - No end goal at all. It’s one of those things that’s day by day. I diet every day and eat the same food/meals every day. So, I just do it day by day really. And if I were to have an end goal it would be for me to have changed my body a lot and say fuck, you’ve just spent 6 years dieting, training, now you should go compete or now you should go do this or that. If I was focused on the end goal more than getting through the day then I feel like doing the same shit day in day out would be harder. I can’t eat the things I want. I literally have the same meals daily.
Rory - I do a lot of that. Lots of chicken and rice, just easy and quick. I had to stop thinking of food as pleasure and think about what could fuel me best. When you were at your biggest or at any point in your transformation did you mental health suffer at all?
Richard - Chicken and rice won’t work mate (haha).
I’d say that I was more depressed at my biggest. But I did develop a slight food/carb phobia when I was under-weight until I found the gym and met a coach doing my food plans and started explaining nutrition partitioning to me. Foods that feed the muscle over that generic chicken and rice bro foods that don’t work.
Rory - Can you tell me a little about what you do eat? I'm just curious now (haha).
Richard – Nope! (haha).
Rory – Ah is that right, I see how it goes (haha).
Richard - I pay for these food plans weekly mate.
Rory - Right, I think I have everything I need, Richard, thank you so much, buddy. I really do appreciate it.
Richard – Okay, buddy.
Rory - I just want to say again I'm a huge fan, your work is incredible. I love seeing people I respect get their shit together as successfully as you did.
Richard - Cheers bud.
It was really nice to speak to Rich, and super interesting. For everyone interested in his journey or his incredible art, go to his Instagram profiles.