When Justin Bieber debuted a tattoo throughout his stomach that learn “Son of God” throughout a live performance in Italy in November, the ink elicited screams and all-caps Instagram captions from followers. It might appear that Bieber’s ever-expanding checklist of tattoos has turn into one thing of an obsession amongst his followers, and, like all accent price obsessing over in 2016, its main writer has turn into one thing of a celeb himself. A more in-depth take a look at Bieber’s ink over time leads again to the identify of Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy, the frequent Bieber-inker who—along with his 1.5 million Instagram followers— has turn into as well-known, in some circles, as his A-list shoppers. The rise of the ability stylist led to the whole lot from clothes strains to reality-TV exhibits; is the ability tattoo artist subsequent?

McCurdy has many tales to inform about his time inking the celebrities. He as soon as tattooed Bieber on a aircraft, and just lately, he’s had shopper periods on the highest of the Empire State Constructing and in a helicopter. “I get bored,” he stated, as he recounted the periods in a latest telephone name. McCurdy remembered his early inking days, when he stated he “lived below a rock” and didn’t know of the younger recording artist who had simply launched her hit single “Umbrella.” Since then, Rihanna has turn into a repeat buyer.

The New York–primarily based artist has additionally labored with Cara Delevingne and Drake, amongst others, and he’s only one of some extremely prized artists with devoted well-known clientele. Kendall Jenner boasted a brand new lip tattoo in September; the handiwork of artist JonBoy. Zoe Kravitz, Drake, and Ellie Goulding have designs by the famed artist Dr. Woo.

In 2016, celebrities’ tattoo artists are a part of their social-media-broadcast sagas, including drama to the already heightened existence of the wealthy and well-known. The artists have made it into their shoppers’ fastidiously curated internal circles, being trusted not simply with their our bodies, but in addition with their secrets and techniques. They continuously pop up on celebrities’ Instagram feeds, and their well-known clientele in flip present up on theirs.

McCurdy is aware of that his is a service business: as soon as folks, particularly those that are always within the highlight, know they will belief their artist, they arrive again for extra. “I’ve shot down many concepts from a few of the most well-known folks on the planet who folks don’t normally say no to,” he stated. “I do this on each single tattoo.”

Identical to any of his shoppers, McCurdy’s movie star clientele belief him to know the sort of the artwork they need, though the requests might come at odd hours. For some, this implies after dusk—he stated he just lately tattooed Delevingne at a home celebration at one A.M. However irrespective of the time of day, McCurdy desires to make sure he can join along with his shoppers—in each the lighthearted and the heavy moments.

“I deal with myself actually professionally,” he stated. “I’ve been in environments the place something you may think about is going on. I’ve been in dressing rooms earlier than exhibits, I’ve seen them cry over family members.”

U.Ok.-based tattoo artist Kevin Paul, who has practically 14,000 followers, stated that social media is “the whole lot” within the enterprise now—visibility means enterprise, irrespective of how well-known the shopper. Paul stated that earlier than he was given the label, there was no such factor as a “movie star tattoo artist” in his a part of the world. However as soon as he gave Harry Types a tattoo 5 years in the past, issues modified—shortly.

“As quickly as I did him, my Twitter followers shot up 20,000 and press from everywhere in the world wished to do interviews,” he stated in an e-mail. The following day everyone labeled me a ‘movie star tattooist.’ ”