Tattoos have long been seen as an art form where the needle is the brush and the skin is the canvas. Conversely, they also ring in criticism from those who prefer unmarked bodies; namely my father, my grandma, and my mother (even though I want to think she’d be permitting). Yet, in a time when self-expression is more celebrated than ever and tattoos are a main form of influence, the conversation around getting inked is igniting.
It’s easy to scroll past a photo of a tattoo and for a split-second imagine it on yourself. Tattoos are intriguing by nature because of the concept but also because of their permanence. It takes guts to mark something on your body for the rest of your life, but it’s never been more popular and it’s not just a random coincidence.
It has long been a theory, and somewhat a statistic, that tattoos in the professional setting harm your image. Some employers still see tattoos as improper, especially if the job requires dealing with the public, but to me that sounds like an archaic way of thinking. There has always been a strong argument for the side that states you should be hired based on your skills and qualifications, regardless of physical appearance, but unfortunately with that it’s not necessarily a battle that can be won. Society has taken note, though, and mostly moved on from the early 2000s lower back tattoos and tribal stamps to a new focus on the details and intricacies of tinier-than-ever tats.
There’s no denying that in recent years tattoos have been downsizing. People are now opting for a dainty look that can be covered, tucked away, hidden from a distance. And there is no one that knows the trend better than the tattoo artist who started it, Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy who owns the celebrity-loved shop Bang Bang in Lower Manhattan. In an early 2018 interview with Elle Magazine, McCurdy notes that all tattooing essentially is is “making something beautiful forever.” And if you’re still hesitant to believe that, reach out to any of the most notable celebrities he’s taken the needle to: Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne, and Rita Ora.
The discussion around tattoos is changing, and for what seems like the better. It’s inevitable to find people stuck in their ways about tattoos, but the work of Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy is helping highlight tattoos in a different light. They no longer stand as a symbol of possible regret or unprofessionalism but as a confidence stamp to those who proudly wear them.
But before you get too excited about booking a spot at Bang Bang, take note that you’ll have to schedule a few months out or hang out patiently on the waitlist for a coveted chair at the shop. Also remember your wallet as sessions start at $500 for the smallest of inkings. But with glowing reviews from the most A-list of celebs, it’s hard to want to go anywhere else.
Do I think writing this article helped convince my family to get on board with the tattoo trend? No. Was it worth a shot? Definitely. Do I have a list of tattoos I’d want Bang Bang to ink on me? Most definitely. Regardless, it’s beneficial to shed light on an aspect of society that’s creating influence from inspiration, whether it’s with a brush and canvas or an inked needle and skin.