For a celebrity as famous as Justin Bieber, a topless picture will always get you noticed. However, we (along with his 98.3 million Instagram followers) weren’t ogling his torso (well maybe a little, but can you blame a girl?) when he unveiled his ‘canvas’. Bieber revealed he has spent ‘[o]ver a hundred hours’ turning his body into ‘art’ because he (eloquently) said: ‘I absolutely love art’.
Art, like Bieber’s lyrics, is a world of symbols, hidden meanings and metaphors. And, in the hallowed tradition of creativity, Bieber has referenced various creative movements and refashioned them on his own canvas, which arguably makes him a child of Post Modernism. For instance, between the swathes of detailed artwork, he invokes the styling of Caravaggio with soft chiaroscuro shading to create depth and perspective (that would make Renaissance artists proud). His stylised inkings jump from realist interpretations (of animals) to sketchy graphics in the school of Takashi Murakami (such as the heart on his lower right forearm).
While the singer might have once called the process of getting inked ‘mad uncomfortable’, he’s amassed more than 56 tatts. Starting with a tiny bird near his crotch he now has a seagull on his arm because he says, ‘it signifies wisdom’ and a spread eagle across his tummy.
There are other themes too, like Roman numerals such an ‘LL’ on his bicep, which he explains is to remind him when 'my head’s low to lift it up’. There’s also an ‘X’ on his arm to cover up the face of an old girlfriend. One can only assume he’s an animal lover because he has a lion and bear on his chest and a tiger on his arm or that he has a meaningful Gap Yah experience in an animal sanctuary.
'I’m not a fan of what Justin has had done. It’s just loads of odd looking things that don’t match from a list a current trend tattoos, like watches and lions. His body looks like the first two pages of Google Search for black and grey tattoos.' Rihanna, Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles' tattoo artist Kevin Paul told Nivea Men, 'If I had been working with him I would have told him to think about what he has had done – keep it all more personal and something he won’t regret in years to come.'
But what can we learn about Bieber from this big reveal? A study led by Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University revealed that those with body art tend to have three traits in common: they are extroverted, seek new experiences and think of themselves as unique. Unfortunately, Swami also found in her study of 378 adults aged 20-58 who had tattoos showed ‘higher levels of verbal aggression, anger, and reactive rebelliousness.’
The takeaway? Climb a mountain with Bieber, but don’t go near him when he’s hangry.