This week, popular celebrity tattoo artist Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy celebrated the launch of his brand new book at his recently opened Lower East Side shop.
Bang Bang: My Life in Ink chronicles the artist’s rise from humble beginnings tattooing in his mother’s kitchen to tattooing Justin Bieber on a private jet. The book is a response to fans wanting not just one of his signature detailed small-scale tattoos, but also a look into his life.
“The people who are closest to me told me that the things [people are] asking the most are not about the celebrities, it’s more about my life,” he said, “where did I come from, how did I get here? What’s it like to be Bang Bang? So I was like, let me tell the world, because all they really know is my portfolio. Let me tell them about me and how I got here.”
Bang Bang didn’t quite realize how many people would resonate with his story.
“I didn’t think it would be an inspirational story, but that’s the feedback I’ve gotten,” said Bang Bang, “It’s such a cool feeling.”
The book combines an autobiographical dive into his life, including what he notes as a “troubled childhood,” with celebrity interviews, beautiful photographs and sections that look at the different tattoos and styles that he’s done. He thinks readers might be interested to learn about the journey that he’s made.
“I think for me what would be most surprising [to readers] are the things I was uncomfortable telling,” he said, “My troubled childhood and me being an unsuccessful kid, and how that impacted me and my confidence and you know, just how I stayed true to myself.”
The book also contains a forward written by Rihanna, who got her first Bang Bang tattoo when she was 17, just around the time “Pon de Replay” got popular. Rihanna is known to trust Bang Bang’s expertise over all.
“I almost tattooed a broken guitar with a pair of underwear on Rihanna,” he said, “and I made her leave with the stencil and I was like, ‘Go home and live with that for a bit.’ We never did it and it was the right call. She’ll tell you, I shut down the ideas when they’re not going to work.”
When asked what he would want people to know from his experiences, he lauded trusting your gut above all else.
“Your head can be a liar, your thoughts can take you places that you don’t want to go,” said Bang Bang, “Your gut–at least mine in particular–speaks the truth to me. It’s taken me everywhere in my career and more and more I’ve learned to trust it. And every time in my life I haven’t, I’ve regretted it. Right or wrong, you trust your gut, you learn about yourself and you’re confident in your decisions.”
For more information on Bang Bang’s shop and book, click here.
-by Kari Sonde