Rihanna got a small handgun tattooed below her right armpit in March 2009. She flew her favorite artist Bang Bang out to Los Angeles to give a tattoo to her friend as a birthday gift and decided to get one for herself at the same time. She was considering a few different designs but it was actually Bang Bang’s suggestion to get a gun. He showed her a picture of a handgun that he thought would look good and she loved it. He’s not sure why the image resonated with her, but told Life & Style “if I had to say why she got it, it’s because she kicks ass and everybody supports her!”
Rihanna had wanted a pair of guns above both of her armpits, but Bang Bang convinced her to put one gun on her rib cage instead. He was concerned that having weapons inked in such a prominent place would detract from her face and could jeopardize her endorsement deal with CoverGirl cosmetics. The deal with CoverGirl was already strained by concerns that Rihanna’s recent reunion with her abuser Chris Brown made her a bad role model. A few day before the tattoo session, TMZ revealed that competitor Revlon was conducting surveys to see if consumers felt that she was an appropriate spokesperson.
Regardless of the reasoning, Rihanna is thankful that she changed her mind about where to put the tattoo. She always listens to Bang Bang’s advice because she trusts that he knows what’s best. In the intro to his book, she wrote:
“The thing I value most about Bang Bang is his honesty. He will never tattoo a bad idea—like EVER. That is the best thing about him—he has shut down so many of my crazy ideas. Or he’ll correct them, tweak them, and turn them into something great. Like my gun tattoo—I was sure I wanted two of them on my collarbones, but he talked me out of it and I’m so glad. Bang is invested in his art—it’s not about the money. That’s really rare and very special.”