Bang Bang, real name Keith Mcurdy is an artist working on the most expensive, tempermental of canvases: celebrity skin. The New York hailing tatooist is the go-to guy for A-listers the likes of Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Rita Ora, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber.
Indeed, all are regulars at his humble inking abode, with Jourdan Dunn and Cara Delevingne recently popping in for some matching double D’s, while Rita Ora only last night revealed a freehand ballerina design on her arm. The celebrity tattooist has a pretty impressive social media following, too, with over 558,000 followers on Instagram alone. So who is Bang Bang and what makes him tick? I rounded up ten things you need to know about anyone who’s anyones’ favourite tattooist.
1. Rihanna was his first celebrity client
Ever the trend setter, Rihanna was Bang Bang’s first celebrity client, faciliating his rise to super tattoo-celebdom in 2007 when he was 20 (and just two years after he had bought his first tatoo gun!) when she requested a Sanskrit phrase on her hip. He didn’t know who she was at the time. He’s since done about 13 of her many, many tattoos.
2. He got his name from one of his own tattoos
Bang Bang got his nickname from a pair of revolvers tatooed on his neck. *Bang* *Bang*, geddit? The first tattoo he ever got was a Superman tattoo on his arm at the age of 15. His parents allowed him to get it in exchange for a promise he’d get the honour roll at school. He did.
3. His leg is a celebrity autograph book
Mcurdy lets A-list clients turn the needle back on him, with his leg a who’s who of celebrity clients. Everyone from Chris Brown to Katy Perry and Rihanna have returned the favour and left their (permanent) mark on his right calf. Bieber drew a muscled mouse with the name ‘Swaggy’ underneath. It has since faded and now reads ‘Swassy’…
4. Not all his leg tattoos are from celebrities.
Some are from “people I wanted a tattoo from along the way” he told The Cut. The 12-year-old son of his first tattoo teacher inked a beaver on his leg, while an EMT worker who helped save his mum tattooed a fireman’s hat.
5. He really, really wants to tattoo Obama
“I really want to tattoo Obama, and I really want him to tattoo me back,” McCurdy told the NY Daily News. “An American flag or a star, maybe ‘Obama rules.’ That would be pretty cool.”
6. He once tattooed someone for a whole ten hours
It was a Hannya mask [Japanese theatre mask] that took up a whole sleeve. The client drank approx 25 beers during the sitting (despite the fact you’re not actually supposed to have alcohol in your system when getting tatted as it can make you bleed more). “He’s a tattoo artist, so you can’t tell a tattoo artist that he can’t drink while he’s getting a tattoo” Bang Bang told The Cut.
7. He would never get a tattoo on his face.
“It just feels really distracting” he told The Cut. “Your face is what you have that really defines you.”
8. He has a favourite tattoo
His favourite tattoo is a portrait of his daughter on his inner right forearm which took 22 hours to complete.
9. He inked Cara Delevingne for the first time
Rihanna called Bang Bang over to the Gansevort Hotel where she was staying with Cara Delevingne. The tattoo artist gave her her first tattoo – the lion on her finger. “She wanted to write the word ‘Lion’ down her finger. I was like, “I don’t think that’s very sexy. Why don’t we do a picture of a lion like a piece of jewelry, like to decorate you?” he told Life and Times.
10. He never researches a celebrity before inking
“I feel like celebrities are these things we see on TV or in the magazines, and we don’t feel like they’re real people, they’re just images or icons we look up to and want to be. But they’re just normal. They’re just regular people who happen to do something we all love,” he told Stylecaster. “When I know I’m going to tattoo someone famous, I try not to find anything out about them before meeting them. I don’t know any of that stuff, I’m very out of the loop. I didn’t know who Cara Delevingne was before I met her.”