Last Stop on the East Side

Lots of buzz about East Side Ink, and we were lucky enough to talk with Bang Bang. Metal Ink shows our love for tattooing. Visit us at metalinkshop.com.

East Side Ink
97 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009
(212) 477-2060
eastsideinktattoo.com

East Side Ink

East Side Ink

Bang Bang
Tattoo Artist
Bang Bang’s tattoos

MI:  Let’s start with the obvious. How did you come to tattoo the guns on Rihanna’s sides?

BB:  She saw a Freddy Kruger tattoo I did about 3 years ago. She tracked me down through one of my friends who’s a piercer. I’ve done about 4-5 tattoos for her. The first one I did was a Sanskrit tattoo on her hip and that same day she had on a little necklace of a gun and I said we should tattoo it.

MI:  I talked to your friend Carlos at Infinity Tattoo in Hell’s Kitchen. He said you got flown out to LA to tattoo Rihanna?

BB:  She flew me out there for one of her friends as a birthday present. And then while I was out there, we did the tattoos.

MI:  You said to her remember that gun three years ago?

BB:  I see her every 6 months, and every time I say, “Let’s do that gun.”

MI:  What other of her tattoos have you done?

BB:  Shush on her finger, her best friend’s birthday on her shoulder, her hip, stars on the back of her neck. Oh, and the guns. And her best friend has the same one. She also has the gun. Nobody asks about her friend though.

MI:  What about all the controversy surrounding those guns?

BB:  It’s just a tattoo. It’s bullshit how people try to find too much meaning. It don’t mean shit. It looks cool.

Bang Bang for Rihanna

Bang Bang for Rihanna

MI:  So it has nothing to do with her relationship with Chris Brown?

BB:  I don’t know anything about her relationship. I know whatever everyone else knows. I know we talked about it [the tattoo] long before they were dating.

MI:  Do you feel like you became an instant celebrity of sorts for doing the guns on Rihanna?

BB:  No, she’s a celebrity. People don’t ask about me.

MI:  But you got media attention, didn’t you?

BB:  3 or 4 different TV shows, People magazine and MTV called me. Life and Style, you know, newspapers from across the world, Australia, New Zealand…

MI:  Your 15 minutes of fame!

BB:  No way! No one cared about me. The thing is, I was the first person to see her after the media bullshit.

MI:  Did you take all the interviews?

BB:  Yeah as many as I could. My phone didn’t stop ringing for 3 days.

MI:  Wasn’t it a rush to get all that attention?

BB:  It would have been if it was from what I was capable of. It [the tattoo] took about 3 minutes to do. And then for a whole month, the whole world is going apeshit over it. Not because of the art aspect of it, but because of the situation. It’s what people wanted to make of it.

MI:  Did you get any new clients because of the media?

BB:  Yeah, I’d get people come in and say, “I read about you in a tabloid.” Cool. *Thumbs up sign.*

MI:  I read that the guns were supposed to go on her shoulders, but they ended up on her sides because Cover Girl wouldn’t approve.

BB:  I said that. I don’t know whether Cover Girl would like it or not, but I wrote it on my Myspace and my quote went everywhere. It’s a cool thing to be a Cover Girl. She’s beautiful, she’s awesome. That’s what they go for, natural beauty.

MI:  And Rihanna sided with your opinion.

BB:  We talked about how it would take away from her face. That’s what you see, face, shoulders.
Tattoos on shoulders would detract from face.

MI:  I see that you have a gun tattoo on your neck.

BB:  I have a couple of them.

MI:  Is that how you got your name?

BB:  Yeah, after I got it done, someone called me Bang Bang just once and it stuck. I got it when I was 18. I’m 23, so 5 years ago.

MI:  How did you start tattooing?

BB:  I was in high school and I could always draw and I was going to go to college for design just like every kid who could draw back in 2004. My dad’s a designer, he worked for Disney and he has his own design company. I come from good stock. *Laughs.* Anyway I had tattoos. I got the equipment and I started tattooing myself and I thought I was good but I wasn’t. I wasn’t the worst in the world, but I was pretty not good. I did friends, cousins, eventually coworkers. I charged them. When you’re in high school and you’re making 150 bucks a day is a tone of money especially when you’re in any other city besides New York. So I quit my job at Red Lobster to tattoo more at my mom’s house. I eventually got a job at a tattoo shop. I quit high school. I wanted to tattoo forever, and I got my neck tattooed so there was no turning back. So I took it seriously and I didn’t give up.

MI:  That’s really inspirational!

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