Tattoos act like a storybook to a person's life, and whether the tattoos are silly or incredibly detailed and thought out, I think they're one of the most beautiful works of art. The body is a canvas for some, and I can't get enough of looking at tattoos and asking about the meanings, or lack of meaning, behind them.
The tattoo artist known as Bang Bang has tattooed some of our most favorite celebrities. If you don't know his name, you will know any number of these tattoos, as they reside on some of the most famous stars to date.
1. Justin Bieber
Bieber has more than one Bang Bang tattoo, but Bang Bang's favorite is the one right above his right pelvic bone that reads "Forgive."
“Just the experience of tattooing him on an airplane was my favorite. I did the ‘forgive’ tattoo on him, it’s my favorite from an experience standpoint. From a visual standpoint, doing a pair of roses on him was really cool and I love doing things in a realistic style so that was fun. He’s such a clown, he’s so fun to be around, it’s always a good time. Early in his career he got quite a bad rep, but when I met him I didn’t have any bad experiences with him. He kind of seems like your little brother you want to beat up all the time because he’s so incredibly talented and funny and cool. He’s just a really cool kid. Tattooing him on an airplane though was … it was always a dream for me to tattoo on an airplane so being able to do that was special. I can’t wait to tattoo in space.”
Adele had gotten three tattoos from Bang Bang back in 2013: one of her son's name, Angelo, on her right hand, a number five on the inside of her finger, and "paradise" on her left.
“She got the number five on the inside of one of her fingers, and I’m not sure if pop culture has picked up on that one yet. She got three that day. When we did the tattoo we only photographed ‘paradise’ because nobody knew her son’s name yet, so that was just a cool day. She also tattooed me that day. I tattoo a ton of amazing, talented people, but not often do I tattoo someone you can say makes timeless art. Obviously, I tattoo so many pop icons and they’re making music for now and they’re great at it — of course, I’m not knocking anybody — but Adele…I just felt like, Oh my gosh I’m tattooing, like, the modern-day Frank Sinatra. It was really cool."
3. Selena Gomez
Selena's tattoo from Bang Bang says "love yourself first" in Arabic.
“[Selena] is so genuine and kind and sweet, and she is just awesome. I’m such a fan of her as a person,” praises Bang Bang. “Her tattoos are all really delicate and beautiful and I think my favorite is probably — I did some writing, not on her rib cage but just [below her shoulder blade]. … The funny part about that is: I didn’t have a store at the time so she came to my house in Brooklyn and, like, brought beer and here’s Selena Gomez walking down my hallway to come and drink beer in my s*****y little apartment and get tattooed.
“It says ‘love yourself first’ and so, I don’t really know pop culture a lot, so I didn’t actually ask why ‘love yourself first,’ but from that you can draw any meaning you want. The world adores her; I know from my own experience what that would mean to me is, like, focus on yourself and who you look at in the mirror and how do you feel about that person in the mirror."
4. Cara Delevingne
Are you familiar with Cara's killer lion tattoo located on her right pointer finger? Well apparently Bang Bang gets all the credit for that one as well.
“Cara Delevingne’s lion tattoo on her finger … she had originally asked me to tattoo the word ‘lion’ down her finger and I was just like, ‘Well, why?’” recalls Bang Bang. “And she’s like, ‘Well, I’m a Leo and I want something for my zodiac.’ And I was like, ‘How about we do something like this, we put an image of a lion on you.’ And now, keep in mind, I didn’t know who she was when I met her or who she was when I made this recommendation, I just knew what’s going to look great so I’m the same for every person. [Now] that’s probably the most iconic tattoo in the history of tattooing. I’ve never seen a tattoo in a Tag Heuer ad, I’ve never seen a tattoo on the side of Harrods in England, or a Burberry advertisement. You see her on the cover of magazines and she’s showing her tattoo!
In the Tag Heuer ad she’s not wearing a watch, she’s just holding up her tattoo. She’s selling watches and she doesn’t have a f***ing watch on her wrist! It’s pretty amazing to think about it, here’s this incredibly famous model and this tattoo is … I think it’s more iconic than any tattoo I could ever name on any person ever and that’s hard to believe that that happened, but I’m grateful. … That was just in Rihanna’s hotel room.”
Rihanna has apparently been a client of Bang Bang's for nearly a decade, when she first walked into Whatever Tattoo. Two years ago, Rihanna had Bang Bang flown to the Dominican Republic to help cover up a traditional Maori tattoo that hadn't come out the way she wanted it to.
“The challenge in that was it [was] a cover-up. She had that Maori tribal and it didn’t work very well for her. It didn’t look great, it wasn’t complimenting of her shape, it wasn’t … it just wasn’t all the things that I try to design tattoos for and that’s to decorate somebody’s body, not to overwhelm it. To compliment their shape, their beauty, and to be perfect,” Bang Bang explains. “She had her hand completely tattooed, every single finger, every knuckle, top of her hand, top of her wrist; it was completely tattooed. So how do I cover just a portion of this [tattoo] and save some of the things that are good about it, and leave some skin gaps, and find balance in it, and make it feel like a piece of jewelry on her, give it unique shape? How do I cover the knuckles without covering her whole hand or her whole finger? So it was challenging.
I drew on her for hours and hours and, I mean, in the end she was falling asleep while I’m drawing on her. She wakes up, we’re looking at it, wasn’t really there, wash it off, keep going, you know. And then we did it, and then it wasn’t enough. She wanted to go [on her wrist] too and so we jumped up, we left a gap and worked on her wrist and later we did a piece on the inside. It kind of grew off the part that bothered her the most and that was her knuckles.
Not that it took a long time to tattoo, probably only two hours or so because it’s just lines, but designing it around a preexisting, non-symmetrical attempt at symmetry was tough. Once it was drawn on there several times, I was confident.
She told me the original one she got on her hand was so incredibly painful, that the one I did on her didn’t feel like anything. She was just made out of stone after getting that thing tapped in her hand with bone. She said it was like death so what I did to her, she was like, ‘This is easy.’ She’s a thug.”
6. LeBron James
After being introduced to each other after a basketball game, LeBron instantly knew the type of magic living inside Bang Bang's hands.
“I grew up and basketball was everything I did every day. I loved to play basketball and I still do play basketball five times a week. Michael Jordan was my hero, I can’t even express… it’s ineffable how much of a hero. So just meeting this generation’s greatest athlete and tattooing him and just clicking with him and being cool and, you know, clowning around and goofing, laughing, that’s just an experience I’ll never forget. Sitting down and eating dinner with him and his kids, you know what I mean? My kids and my grandkids will have that ball that says, ‘To Bang Bang, the greatest, LeBron James.’ And LeBron James calling me the greatest … get the f*** out of here!
“I met him after a game, said, ‘What’s up?’ and he says to me, ‘Man, those hands are magic.’ And I said, ‘Bro, that feeling is mutual.’ I tattooed a portrait of his daughter and nobody had even seen what she looked like. His mom told me, ‘LeBron is the greatest at what he does and you’re the greatest at what you do.’ I was like, man, I’ll never forget that, that’s a really special thing. I don’t think a lot about my career and these experiences that I’ve had, but the moments I do I’m really appreciative of them, and those are the ones I hold dear.”
Now more than ever, I am dying to get inked. And I have to say, I really am impressed with Bang Bang's work.
I love reading about the stories behind the tattoos he has created, especially ones that feature my favorite celebrities. If you are interested in reading more, be sure to purchase his book called Bang Bang: My Life in Ink.
[Source: Yahoo! Celebrity]