Category Archives: Bang Bang

Celebrity Tattoo Artists: Who’s Getting Paid?

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We’ve all heard the terms “Trainer to the stars” and “Accountant to the stars” and “(insert otherwise mundane profession) to the stars”; all of which prove that sometimes just doing stuff for celebrities can make you a celebrity yourself. This is especially true in the tattoo industry; where as sometimes stars don’t want anyone to know were they train or that they need the help of a financial planner, everyone loves to brag about who did their body art. Whether it’s via Twitter, during interviews, or with the ultra-cool (sarcasm alert) Instagram photo from inside the shop, everyone who you’ve ever heard of loves to show you how cool they are and how great their ink artist of choice is. We guess it’s like any other form of physical art in that you want to give the artist credit and show that you can afford the piece, but it’s still kind of annoying. However, there is a plus to all of this tattoo braggadocio: artists are getting paid these days. Who’s getting paid the best? Let’s find out! We’re going to try and stick to artists who we can get at least ballpark numbers on, so don’t be too upset if we leave out your favorite.

Kat's shop starts its pricing at $200/hr
Kat’s shop starts its pricing at $200/hr

Artists like Mike Rubendall (from TLC’s “Tattoo Wars”), Bob Tyrell, Dave Tedder, Brandon Bond, and Stephanie Tamez all make awesome livings by charging in the $200 per hour range, having minimum session times, and by booking full schedules. However, the big moneymakers list starts with Kat Von D. The tabloid sensation and star of both “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink” has a shop minimum of $200/hr, so we have to figure that her hourly is up around at least the $300 range…which is exactly what Paul Booth charges per hour. Featured on CNN, CNBC, Discovery Channel, and TLC; Booth has worked on members of metal bands like Sepultura, Pantera, and Slipknot, giving them a taste of his dark and demon laden style. Famous clients are clearly the key to big bucks too, just ask New York based artist Bang Bang, who gets over $400/hr to ink stars like Rihanna and Justin Beiber. His work is good, but rumor has it that he’s not really worth the trip to the Bahamas that it costs you to have a medium sized piece done. In reality, is anyone worth that much cash? Don’t ask Anil Gupta, we already know his answer.

Working on stars like Justin Bieber has made Bang Bang bucks-bucks
Working on stars like Justin Bieber has made Bang Bang bucks-bucks

Charging a whopping $450/hr, Gupta has done work on celebrities like John McEnroe, Christian Slater, and Rosie O’Donnell. He’s know for his abstract work as well as his ability to perfectly copy works of art onto his clients’ bodies. He’s booked up six months in advance too, so you know that business is good. Not as good as Ami James though, as the “Miami Ink” and “NY Ink” star charges over $500 for just sixty minutes in the chair. His ownership of three shops (his third is Love Hate Social Club in London) and his clothing company DeVille has given him a personal net worth of over $5 million, so yeah…he’s doing well for himself. However, he’s cheap compared to Scott Campbell.

Anil Gupta's ability to replicate has replicated him a fortune
Anil Gupta’s ability to replicate has replicated him a fortune

Tattooing only on weekend because his lucrative career in advertising design takes up his weekdays, Campbell has charged the likes of Marc Jacobs, Josh Hartnett, and Heath Ledger a thousand bucks for their first hour of work. Granted, he drops his price to “only” $200 for each additional hour, but that still gives him a pretty insane hourly rate, and most likely means that he’s living large when he’s not in the shop or in the office.

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Scott Campbell makes the most per hour…

Once looked at as the dregs of society, tattoo artists are finally getting the recognition as true artists that they deserve, and with prices as high as these guys, they’re getting the cash they deserve. Of course, they won’t be getting that cash from us, we prefer to be inked in Thailand, where fifteen hours of work from a guy who has a masters degree in art and design will run you about $500. Yeah, America is overpriced…but we still love this place.

...but Ami James has a bigger bank account
…but Ami James has a bigger bank account

 

Artist Profile: Bang Bang

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He was born Keith McCurdy, but thanks to a double-gun tattoo on his neck, people call him “Bang Bang”, and his legacy might live on long after the celebrities he finds himself connected to are gone from the spotlight. Working out of sleek shop in Manhatten, New York (complete with an underground privacy room and an art gallery/waiting area), Bang Bang is one of, if not the most famous tattoo artists in the game. With a client list that includes Rihanna, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rita Ora, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber, the Delaware-born inker is on top of the body art world; he deserves to be for doing some of the best work in the business.

bang-bang-rihanna-tattooHe started tattooing in his late teens with a crappy kit in his mom’s kitchen, and within a year he was tattooing all of his friends and relatives, honing his craft and getting ready to pursue his dreams as a true artist. He soon found himself working in shops in New York, bringing his truly artistic style to the masses and gaining fame for his first celebrity client Rihanna. His personal style, which he says was inspired by the Japanese and focuses more on the body interacting with the art than just the art, paved the way for more celebrity clients to sit in his chair, and now he’s the man. He’s also a major representative of the new breed of artists in the game, as he is respected as a true craftsman and not just some dude who stabs bikers with an electric needle. His art is mainstream, and that’s great for tattooed people everywhere. People like him are a big part of the reason people like us aren’t being starred at like we’re freaks anymore, because now we have “body art”; that’s pretty awesome. It’s also awesome that he has his client ink him after he works on them…a little dangerous, but pretty hardcore. His personal collection features work from Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and the EMT that saved his mother’s life. Bang Bang is the new deal folks, and the deal is a good. Here’s some of his work, and some of “his work”…feel free to be confused by that sentence.

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