Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy

Keith Bang Bang McCurdy is the owner and operator of Bang Bang Tattoo Studio and a celebrity Tattoo Artist once named by Vogue as “the most famous tattoo artist in the world.”

Keith is known for some of the most famous celebrity Tattoos, having worked on designs for the likes of Rhianna, Cara Delevingne, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, LeBron James, Adele, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Kylie Jenner.

Keith was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, to his parents, Vincent LaCava and Susan McCurdy, who were still teenagers at the time. When his Father moved to college, Keith and his mother moved to Claymont, Delaware, where she worked as a painter before opening a cleaning business. Keith entered South Kent boarding school at the age of 13 but was expelled for cheating on a Spanish test. He would then return to Delaware to start his senior year at Mount Pleasant High School. However, he dropped out of high school to pursue his love of tattoos.

Keith received his first Tattoo at aged 15, a Superman Logo done for $180 at Tattoos by RC in Folsom, Pennsylvania. He ordered a tattoo kit online in 2004 and began practicing on himself, his friends, and his relatives. After three months of practice, he got a job at his father's friend's tattoo shop, and within the next year, he began working at Rage of the Needle in Minquadale, Delaware.

Keith would then move to New York City, where he struggled to find work due to Tattoo Artists not believing his portfolio was his because of how impressively the tattoos were done. Kieth did find work at Crazy Fantasy in Greenwich Village, but it didn’t go well based on his description of it being "the dirtiest, most disgusting, shittiest, most dilapidated vomitorium on that little strip.” We’re glad he got out of there quickly as he moved to nearby parlor, Whatever Tattoo, earning the reputation as the best tattoo artist in the shop.

Whatever Tattoo is where Keith would have his life-changing faithful encounter with pop star Rhianna, where he tattooed a Sanskrit prayer on her hip. The attention he received from the Rhianna Hip Tattoo was the catalyst for his career that led him to work with other celebrities with famous designs, like Cara Delevingne’s Lion Finger Tattoo.

With his work becoming high in demand, Keith was working across multiple Tattoo Studios throughout New York including Last Rites and East Side Ink. After a decade of work, he opened Bang Bang Tattoo on Clinton Street in 2013 but was forced to restart the business in a new shop on Broome Street. and eventually opening a second store on Grand Street in SoHo.

When Keith was asked during an Interview with WIRED if he would ever refuse to do a Tattoo on someone, he stated that he would always refuse a Tattoo if he didn’t think it was going to be a great Tattoo. This is because he is the one who needs to consider the design and location of it, “People don’t design tattoos for a living, I do” and “If you’re coming to me, I’m not just making your sandwich the way you like it, I’m going to make the tattoo the way I know it will be great and unique and fit you as a person.” 

Keith has even refused to ink celebrities such as Rhianna and Cara Delevigne. He stated that one time, Rhianna came to him with an idea for a guitar broken in half with a pair of underwear hanging off of it. However, Keith didn’t like it, and ultimately, she never went through with the design. Keith also was the inspiration for Cara Delevigne’s Tattoo as she initially wanted to have the word ‘Lion’ written down her finger, but he convinced her that a Lion Face Tattoo would be a more unique design. 

Some other of Keith's most notable works are  Demi Lavato’s Lion Hand Tattoo, Katy Perry's rainbow-colored triangular prism for her Prism album. Katy even Brings Bang Bang on tour with her saying. 

“I always bring Bang Bang in for my most special tattoos—the ones my touring team and I get at the end of a tour to commemorate another successful journey together. Each time, he’s created the definitive symbol of that era of my life.”

Keith has also done work for Ruby Rose with her British comic book character Tank Girl on the left side of her back, Adele with her son's name on the outside of her right hand, Jessie J’s open circle on her left wrist, and Vanessa Hudgson’s Sunflower sideboob Tattoo. 

From his humble beginnings in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Keith "Bang Bang" McCurdy has risen to the pinnacle of the tattoo world. Despite facing challenges and setbacks, his dedication and passion for tattooing have transformed him into a household name. Keith's journey from a young boy practicing on himself and his friends to becoming the go-to artist for celebrities is a testament to his talent and perseverance.

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