- Many celebrities use tattoos as a form of self-expression.
- Some famous figures have ink that’s inspired by their past or pays tribute to a loved one, making the body art very meaningful to the individual.
- Others have tattoos that are misspelled, DIY, or flawed in design.
- Insider listed some of the best celebrity tattoos of all time – and some of the worst.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Whether celebrities use tattoos to commemorate a role, pay tribute to a loved one, or just to fit their aesthetic, their body art is often analysed by fans to gain further insight into who they are as a person.
Other famous figures, however, have permanent markings that can be cringeworthy or even downright disrespectful. Ariana Grande, for example, botched the Japanese spelling of her hand tattoo, and T-Pain has a meme of Jackie Chan on his hand.
Here are some of the best and worst celebrity tattoos of all time.
Zoe Kravitz has “Mississippi *@!!?*A!” tattooed on her upper arm.
The tattoo is a reference to Nina Simone’s song “Mississippi Goddamn,” which was released in the midst of America’s civil rights movement. In the song, Simone sings about racial injustice and her impatience with the civil rights movement’s slow progress.
Kravitz, who has over 50 tattoos, said listening to the jazz artist is part of her daily routine.
“Even if I don’t go out, I have a hard time falling asleep, so I go to bed around 1 a.m. I listen to a lot of jazz when I’m getting ready for bed: Nina Simone and Billie Holiday,” the actress told Harper’s Bazaar.
Miley Cyrus has a handwritten note from Yoko Ono tattooed on her shoulder.
In December 2019, the “Slide Away” singer memorialised a handwritten note from artist Yoko Ono on her shoulder.
“I’m proud of U, Yoko,” the tattoo reads.
The tattoo artist Winter Stone, whose real name is Daniel Winter, shared a black-and-white photo of the ink.
Cyrus has been a long-time fan of Ono and her late husband John Lennon. In 2018, she recorded a cover of their song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” along with their son, Sean Ono Lennon.
During an interview on “The Tonight Show,” Cyrus spoke about what it was like to record with Sean.
“I mean, he’s just such an incredible being to be in the room with because that magic just radiates and I have always loved John and Yoko. I’m such a big Yoko fan, and so it’s just been amazing to work with him,” she said.
Scarlett Johansson has a stunning tattoo of a rose vine running down her back.
The “Marriage Story” actress was first seen with the intricate back tattoo in 2017.
Though she’s never confirmed the meaning behind the ink, the rose vine may be in honour of her daughter Rose, who she shares with ex-husband Romain Dauriac.
A staple at Hollywood’s black-tie events, the Oscar-nominated actress often chooses gowns that display her body art, especially her back tattoo, on the red carpet.
Rihanna has a gorgeous tattoo of the Egyptian goddess Isis sprawled across her chest.
The Barbadian singer got the tattoo of Isis, who symbolises eternal motherhood, to honour her late grandmother.
“Goddess Isis – Complete Woman – Model for future generations – #GRANGRANDOLLY – always in and on my heart #1love,” she wrote on Instagram in a since-deleted post.
Cara Delevingne got an intricate tattoo of a lion’s head on her index finger.
Because the supermodel is a Leo, her finger tattoo (à la famed artist Keith Scott “Bang Bang” McCurdy) may be a reference to her zodiac symbol, a lion. Delevingne has also shared several photos with lions on her Instagram feed, telling fans that they’re some of her favourite animals.
She also has tattoos of other wild animals, like an elephant on her forearm and a snake wrapped around her hand.
Jason Momoa has a tattoo of his young children’s signatures over his heart.
The actor may be known for his on-screen “Aquaman” tattoos that cover his body, but his real body art is more delicate.
Momoa – who shares Lola, 12, and Nakoa-Wolf, 11, with his wife Lisa Bonet – had an artist draw his children’s handwritten signatures right above his heart, according to Oprah Magazine.
Shawn Mendes’ tattoo of a guitar is deeply personal.
The singer got a tattoo of a guitar on his forearm in 2016. While it may look like a standard instrument upon first glance, Mendes incorporated hidden touches to make the ink extremely personal.
The body of the guitar actually appears to show trees and their mirrored reflection in water. He added further details to the neck of the guitar, which features the CN Tower in Toronto, Mendes’ hometown, along with soundwaves of his parents’ voices saying “I love you,” Teen Vogue reported.
Zayn Malik has a lightsaber tattoo that glows in the dark.
The former One Direction member’s middle finger tattoo served as a tribute to the Star Wars franchise. The thin lightsaber was filled in with UV ink to make it light up under a blacklight.
“May the force be with you,” he wrote.
Adam Levine’s humongous back tattoo is an example of an impeccable cover-up.
The image of a winged mermaid holding a skull covers the Maroon 5 frontman’s entire back. And after examining the details involved, it’s no wonder that the ink took six months to complete.
“6 months in the making. Thanks @bryanrandolph for absolutely blowing my mind with this one! Woooo hooooo!!!!” Levine wrote on Instagram when he debuted the tattoo.
According to Inked Mag, the back tattoo covered up three tattoos: a tribute to his late dog, a paw print, and a pinup girl.
Johnny Depp’s forearm tattoo honours both his son and his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The actor’s forearm tattoo, which depicts a sparrow flying over the sunset with “Jack” below it, has a double meaning.
The ink honours his son Jack, who he shares with ex Vanessa Paradis, and memorializes his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow, who has a similar tattoo in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Ryan Gosling’s DIY tattoo was meant to look like a monster’s hand but more closely resembles a cactus.
The actor decided to try tattooing himself but quickly discovered that even the most simple designs are much more difficult than they look.
“One of my tattoos is supposed to be a monster’s hand dropping a bloody heart but I did it myself with a tattoo kit so it looks like a cactus,” he said, according to Sunshine Coast Daily.
Chris Brown has a controversial tattoo of a woman’s face on his neck.
The tattoo, which shows a woman with half of her face drooping and dark, led people to wonder if it depicted Rihanna’s bruised face. Brown’s representatives clarified that the tattoo was of a sugar skull, not his ex, in a statement to ABC News.
“His tattoo is a sugar skull (associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead) and a MAC cosmetics design he saw,” the rep said. “It is not Rihanna or an abused woman as erroneously reported.”
T-Pain has a tattoo of a Jackie Chan meme on his hand.
The musician replicated a meme of Jackie Chan looking confused and distressed in a tattoo on his hand.
The meme isn’t the only part of internet culture that’s inspired T-Pain’s tattoos. He also has a tattoo of an online meme that says, “You don’t have to like me” on his arm, with the word “like” stylised like the button on Facebook.
Ariana Grande has a palm tattoo that doesn’t make sense.
However, fans pointed out that the tattoo on her palm incorrectly said “shichirin,” which translates to small barbecue grill.
Grande tried to resolve the issue by adding more characters, but her amendments technically didn’t fix the problem.
Instead, the Japenese characters only make sense if they’re read using English patterns. And if they’re translated that way, the tattoo still means “Japanese barbecue finger.”
Zac Efron got “YOLO” tattooed on the side of his hand before the acronym became a joke.
The actor showed off his tattoo of the word “YOLO,” an acronym for “You Only Live Once,” in 2011.
Hayden Panettiere meant to get “live without regrets” tattooed on her side in Italian, but it’s misspelled.
The actress reflected back on a lesson her father taught her when she was a child before getting the tattoo, she told Glamour.
“When I was younger, I was upset, and my dad said he wanted to show me something. He slammed one door of the bathroom, and the closet door popped open – it was a trick with the air,” she explained. “He said, ‘Whenever one door closes, another one always opens.'”
Her father’s words stuck with her, and the actress decided to get “Vivere senza rimpianti” on her side, which translates to “Live without regrets.” After the artist finished the ink, Panettiere realised that her tattoo was misspelled.
“I literally have to live by that advice!” the actress said.
Kendall Jenner got a lip tattoo that says the word “meow.”
Prefacing that she was inebriated when she decided to get the tattoo, the supermodel showed off the ink on the inside of her lip during a 2018 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“I was not thinking clearly,” she told Ellen DeGeneres, pulling down her bottom lip to show the ink and explaining that the word “meow” was “literally the first thing that came to my mind.”
She added, “I don’t know. Just, like, my drunk thoughts.”
Jenner has several other small tattoos, like a white dot and a heart on her finger.
Presley Gerber got a tattoo of the word “misunderstood” in the middle of his face.
Gerber was ridiculed by many after showing off a face tattoo that said “misunderstood” in capital letters below his eye.
“If I thought this was going to ruin my face or I didn’t want this, I wouldn’t have done it. I think that’s a pretty obvious thing,” he said on an Instagram Live addressing the criticism.
Nicole Richie has “Virgin” written on her wrist.
The former reality star got “Virgin” written in swirly letters on her wrist since she’s a Virgo. And though it’s popular to get body art related to an individual’s astrological sign, many people wouldn’t associate the word “virgin” with astrology upon first glance.
Richie even admitted that she regrets the tattoo, which she got when she was a teenager.
“It’s embarrassing and desperate. Now, I am a Virgo so when I was 16 I thought, ‘Oh I’m going to be different and I’m going to put virgin, because the Virgin is the sign for Virgo,'” she told E! News. “I’d add an ‘i’ and an ‘a’ and say I’m from Virginia, but I just don’t think people are going to believe me. So I’m just stuck.”
Jennifer Lawrence has the chemical formula for water tattooed on her hand to remind her to stay hydrated.
Because she doesn’t drink enough fluid to stay hydrated, the actress got the chemical formula for water tattooed in red ink on her hand, she told HitFix.
Lawrence was with her “Hunger Games” costar Liam Hemsworth and his family when she got the tattoo.
“I was with Liam’s family, and everybody was getting tattoos. I was like, ‘Well, I’m always going to need to be hydrated, so I guess I should just get ‘H2O’ on my hand,'” she explained.
Because the tattoo is so small, it’s difficult to spot the fact that the “2” is erroneously placed above the “H” and “O,” rather than below it.
“I should have Googled it before I got it tattooed on my body forever,” she said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.