New York City-based tattoo artist JonBoy may be known for his high-profile clientele (Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, included) in the world of pop culture, but it is his minimalist aesthetic that has garnered him a cult-like following on Instagram.
His latest work? A simple, barely-there cross just below Justin Bieber’s left eye — a replica of one that JonBoy himself has on his own face. The artist tells Pret-a-Reporter, however, that the tattoo wasn’t just a whim, but one Bieber had been contemplating for quite some time as a symbol of his faith.
“I think it was already kind of brewing in his head. I think when he saw mine and just how subtle it is, I think he saw that and thought ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool, I could rock something like that.’ It doesn’t look gawdy on him,” JonBoy said, adding that it was the placement near the eye specifically that was most important. “We were sitting there and chatting about why we wanted it near the eye, and it’s really to see people through the cross — to see people with our eyes through the cross with our grace and with our love.”
In addition to JonBoy, who met Bieber through Hillsong Church in New York, the singer’s friend Joe Termini also got inked with the cross tattoo. But although his faith played a great role in the inspiration for Bieber’s particular tattoo, it’s not his only influence.
The artist chatted excitedly about how the high fashion world has merged with the tattoo world in a new and provocative way, noting Gucci’s creative director — who JonBoy had the opportunity to meet last week in the midst of Met Gala madness in New York — as a major source of inspiration.
“His art and the way he’s basically given Gucci that new romantic look — his imagery is very, very tattoo- [friendly] … that’s the type of stuff that I was tattooing a lot before I started the very minimal line work stuff,” he noted. “I just look up to him and he’s doing big things and I got to meet with him and chat with him. Hopefully I can get him in the chair — I know he loves tattoos. I think when he’s ready to commit to a design, I’d love to put a little tattoo on him.”
With a client roster that would make any modeling agency jealous, JonBoy has already seen firsthand how his world can mesh seamlessly with the world of fashion. Just last month, the work he did on Baldwin’s wrist was seen on the cover of Marie Claire.
“[The minimalist style] works for every walk of life, whether you’re a model or a barista at Starbucks. It’s very subtle,” JonBoy said of why models seem to flock to his style. “It’s like you can wear an accessory and look elegant and sophisticated and sexy at the same time.”
Whether Bieber’s tattoos will inspire any face tattoo trends of their own remains to be seen. According to the artist, not everyone had a positive reaction — but that’s not something he’s worried about. “He didn’t do anything to hurt his fans. He’s still going to create awesome music — if anything, he’s going to be reminded and inspired everyday why he’s here on Earth, and that’s just to love on people,” said JonBoy. “I think as big as Justin is, he’s going to be doing greater things — greater than what he’s doing now, and [he’s] just going to be bringing glory to God.”
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.