“One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t get nervous,” says Bang Bang, tattoo artist for some of the biggest stars alive today. Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Amare Stoudemire, and countless other celebs have come through Bang Bang’s Lower East Side parlor to get inked by one of the masters employed by the 27-year-old tattoo virtuoso, and never once has it shook him that a wrong move could be set in famous flesh forever. Keeping a steady hand just sort of comes with the territory. As Bang Bang puts it, “Nervous never really come into it. I do tattooes for a living. I gotta be really even.”
In the first episode of Karmaloop TV’s new series Show & Prove, we talk to Bang Bang about what it takes to rise in the tattoo game as he has, and how he continues his ascent through the most tried and true professional mantra out there: “I gotta work, and I gotta work, and I gotta work.” While he’s guided by absolute dedication to the craft, Bang Bang’s playful side leads him to hand some of his clients the gun from time to time.
“Rihanna was the first person I asked to tattoo me,” says Bang Bang. It’s become something of a tradition for him to ask some of the stars he tattoos to ink one part of his leg that serves as a sort of autograph book. “I’m a needy fan that wants a 30-minute signature,” jokes Bang Bang.
Below, check out some of Bang Bang’s most memorable tattoo trades: