Photos of Justin Bieber getting a tattoo took the Internet by storm on Monday, with many wondering both what the ink actually depicts and whether or not it was real.
Well, Brian Byrne, co-owner of Son of a Gun Tattoo and Barbershop in Toronto, where Bieber got his new ink, broke down the story for MTV News via phone on Tuesday (May 18).
“It was back in March, March 4th or 5th” Byrne said. “The guy who tattooed him, Charlie, is a lifelong friend of Jeremy’s, Justin’s dad — they’re all from Stratford. When it came up, he called Charlie and asked if he could do it and keep it quiet. We made sure the shop was empty and there was nobody around.”
Byrne also confirmed reports that the tattoo was a celebration of both Bieber’s birthday and family tradition.
“It was a 16th birthday tattoo,” Byrne said. “I guess his dad has it, and one of his uncles. It’s the outline of the seagull from Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”
During the process, Byrne said that Bieber was a trooper throughout — particularly because the area he had tattooed, his left hip, is extremely sensitive. “That’s a bad area, definitely. He was great. He was nervous but then got into it and it was done. It’s very tiny.
“He laid there and sucked it up, his dad took a bunch of pictures and video and everybody talked to him. He’s a very nice kid.”
As for the legality and parental consent, Byrne confirmed that Son of a Gun has strict policies about whom they tattoo. “Our rule at the shop is: no necks, no hands, unless you’re over 25; and you don’t get tattooed at all unless you’re 18 years old.”
That rule bends slightly, Byrne explained, if you have a parent with you, and depending on what type of tattoo it is. “[We'll do it] if you’re 16 and you have your parental consent, and it’s a memorial tattoo or some type of family tattoo. We’re pretty sticky with that. We don’t want kids running around with garbage on them that [they'll later regret].”
With all the press their shop has now received, Byrne joked that they’re thinking of renaming it the “Tattooed Bieber Shop.”
“At least if the kids who love him can’t get tattoos, their moms can.”
Son of a Gun Tattoo and Barbershop opened in November 2009 and is co-owned by Byrne, CJ Owen, and Paul Rogers. They’re already getting ready to open new locations. And, naturally, Byrne would be happy to have Bieber in for more work, should he want it.
“We’re ready for him anytime.”