Rihanna has over 20 tattoos. She has admitted that tattoos for her are like an addiction. “I like hanging out in tattoo shops” Rihanna has said. “I am so intrigued by tattoos. It’s an entire culture, and I study it. Sometimes I go with friends, or just by myself. I get bum-rushed, but I don’t care. I don’t take security.” Rihanna is believed to of had her first tattoo done in 2006, two music notes on her foot. The most known tattoo artist that has created her tattoos is Bang Bang. Bang Bang has apparently done around 13 of her various tattoos. He told a magazine “She [Rihanna] always flips out [when it's done] and jumps up and down like a 16-year-old girl getting her first car.”
Rihanna has at least 25 known tattoos:
In January 2014, artist Bang Bang gave Rihanna this tattoo of a cross on the inside of her right wrist. The intricate cross design is made from negative space and is surrounded by black ink. Rihanna also expanded the henna designs — which has previously only been on the back of her arm — all the way up to edges of the cross, making it one cohesive piece. (more…)
Rihanna added the final piece to her hand tattoo in October 2013, incorporating both the Maori tribal design near her thumb and the chevron lines. It is an abstract design inspired by Indian henna art. Artists Bang Bang and Cally-Jo worked together on both the design and the implementation of this tattoo. The duo got out their needles and worked on different sections at the same time. “@callyjoart and I spent hours and hours drawing on different designs, we finally found one that worked! So proud we made it pretty,” Bang Bang wrote. (more…)
In September 2012, Rihanna got a new, very large tattoo as a tribute to her late grandmother. Alongside the picture of her new ink, she tweeted:
“Goddess Isis – Complete Woman – Model for future generations – #GRANGRANDOLLY – always in and on my heart.”
The tattoo is of the Egyptian goddess Isis, who was depicted as the ideal mother and wife.
In June 2012, Rihanna covered up her music notes tattoo and replaced it with a large Egyptian falcon. She shared a picture of the ink on twitter with the caption “Falcon: a light that shines in the darkness! Never close their eyes during sleep.” Bang Bang – who inked this tattoo – told US Weekly “It’s the first tattoo she wanted as a teen….She wanted it across her back back then.”
It appears as if the bird has been tattooed in a way to look like a handgun, although Rihanna could have gotten the inspiration for the tattoo from a 2,300-year-old faience falcon. The falcon is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where the tattoo artist does most of his work.
Rihanna told Oprah the meaning of her tattoo: “Back in the day, they would carve into the walls and they would carve a falcon, because they didn’t have another way of saying a king in the sky.” (more…)
In March 2012, Rihanna got a small and simple cross tattooed on her left collarbone. Artist Bang Bang cut the ink with water to make the tattoo light, the same technique that he used for the “Rebelle Fleur” tattoo on her neck. Rihanna chose this placement on her neck so that she can easily hide it with a necklace when she wants to, but she can also show it off. (more…)
In January 2012, Rihanna got “Thug Life” tattooed across her knuckles as a tribute to legendary rapper Tupac Shakur. The tattoo was done by artist Mark Mahoney with semi-permanent white ink. Rihanna showed off the new tattoo in a picture on her Twitter. It can be seen faintly in a few photos from the following weeks, but after that it disappeared completely.
In January 2012, Rihanna showed off her new tattoo in a photoshoot with Terry Richardson – a bust of the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. The meaning to Rihanna is unknown, but the tattoo is private and hardly ever seen due to it’s placement. Queen Nefertiti was an icon of beauty and had many titles including Hereditary Princess; Great of Praises; Lady of Grace and Sweet of Love. (more…)
In August 2010, Rihanna got a tattoo of the text “rebelle fleur” written in script on the left side of her neck. The tattoo translates to “rebel flower”. Many people claimed since the adjective usually comes before the noun in French, the phrase should say “fleur rebelle.” However Rihanna stands by the tattoo and swears it’s not a mistake. In a text message to the artist Bang Bang, she said:
“Rebelle Fleur translates to rebel flower, NOT rebelious flower, its 2 nouns so in that case fleur does not HAVE to be first! Fyi, cuz they will ask”.
In December 2009, Rihanna got her personal motto “Never a failure, Always a lesson” tattooed along the right side of her chest. It’s written backwards so she can read it in the mirror. Artist Bang Bang said:
“I asked her why she wanted that and she said, ‘It’s kind of my motto in life for everything.’ Instead of considering things to be mistakes, considering them lessons…. She said that she wanted to do it in gray, rather than black, because she wanted it to be more subtle…. She didn’t want it to draw too much attention.”
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.”
Rihanna’s hand tattoo is a henna-style tribal dragon claw, which she got on her right hand while in New Zealand on her November 2008 tour. It matches her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown’s tattoo on the same hand. The design is of a geometric dragon claw with small hibiscus that go up to her wrist. Her tattoo was done in the traditional style of the Maori people in New Zealand. This method of tattooing makes the skin appear raised and rough, rather than smooth. She said to reporters:
“It’s tribal. It represents strength and love….It’s their traditional way of tattooing. I always wanted [one]. It hurt like hell!
One of Rihanna’s most visible and famous tattoos was inked in 2008. It was started by a tattoo artist in L.A, then finished in New York by her favorite tattoo artist Bang Bang. The stars match former boyfriend Chris Brown’s trio of stars behind his ear. (more…)
In June 2008, Rihanna got the date “11-4-86” in Roman numerals (XI-IV-LXXXVI) inked on her left shoulder. It’s her best friend and assistant Melissa’s birth date, and Melissa got the same tattoo with Rihanna’s birth date as well.
In June 2008, Rihanna got another finger tattoo. This one is the most copied of her tattoos. It was copied by Lindsay Lohan and Lily Allen, who were unaware at the time that she had it, Cher Lloyd, and many of Rihanna’s fans has also decided to get one exactly like Rihanna’s. The premise is that the tattoo will be revealed when you hold your finger to your lips to shush someone.
Artist Bang Bang shared a picture of the tattoo in 2015 and wrote:
The “Shhh” tattoo is many years old- done in one shot, no touch up needed. If you’re thinking of getting you’re finger tattooed and have heard they “fade” or “fall out” I’ll say, Yes, they can fade during the healing process- though if done properly, they can be great, and last a lifetime?
Not a lot is known about this tattoo, or when she got it. The tattoo is of “Love” written in a simple cursive font on her right middle finger. The tattoo is placed so it doesn’t get shown unless she sticks up her middle finger or holds a microphone. She got it in Los Angeles from one of the artists she used before. (more…)
Rihanna added a tattoo of a skull during her stay in Miami in 2008. It’s her only tattoo with colored ink and also her seventh tattoo. A skull and crossbones usually means danger, but it is neutralized by the pink hair bow the skull is wearing.
In 2007, Rihanna got a Sanskrit prayer going down her right hip. The tattoo was supposed to translate to “forgiveness, honesty, suppression and control”, a quote from the Sanatana Dharma. Unfortunately, the tattoo was misspelled and translated to “long suffering, truthfulness, self-restraint, inward calm, fear and fearlessness” instead. In addition to the incorrect translation, the text of her tattoo is also missing the rest of the original prayer, which reads “pleasure, pain, birth, death.”
This was the first time tattoo that she got from Bang Bang, who has since become her go-to artist. He credits Rihanna with introducing him to a slew of celebrity clients and launching his career to the next level. But before she was the jewel of his portfolio, she was just a girl who walked into his shop off the street and asked a lot of questions about piercings and tattoos. He didn’t recognize who she was and didn’t treat her any differently, and she loved that he was honest with her. In fact he was so brutally honest that he told her it was a bad idea to get the Sanskit text on the back of her leg where she wanted it.
“I remember thinking, this guy is gangsta as fuck. He doesn’t give a fuck about me—he doesn’t know who I am and that is brilliant. So that’s why I wanted him to do my tattoo. I knew he wasn’t going to try any funny shit or act crazy; he was just going to do my tattoo.”
“I was surprised when he wouldn’t put my first tattoo where I wanted it to go—up the back of my leg—but I was so shocked that I was actually open to his idea of moving it, and I’m glad I did. I was still early on in my tattoo game, so I trusted him as an expert more than I trusted myself because I didn’t know. When you’re well known, it can be hard knowing who to trust, but I trusted Bang Bang from the first time he tattooed me.”
Rihanna’s very first tattoo was a Pisces sign behind her right ear which she has had since early 2006. The tattoo was done by a famous Brazilian artist who makes his clients book three years in advance, but luckily Rihanna was in Tokyo at the same time as him and got it done.
“When I first got a tattoo I was seventeen years old and I was in Japan. They needed consent from a guardian, so I called my mom and she was surprisingly into it. That one was just behind my ear.”
Rihanna’s second tattoo was two music notes on the inside of her right foot. The notes are a treble clef and sixteenth note. It is believed top be inspired by her music career, as she was just starting out in the music industry at the time.
She got the tattoo in Australia while she was in the country to perform at the Universal Music showcase on May 31, 2006. She kept it for many years, but eventually had it covered with a large falcon in June 2012.