Rihanna is not only famous for her singing career, but for her outspoken tattoos aswell – which she isn’t afraid to show off. She has been in the tattoo game since 2006 and by now, she’s managed to collect body art from various tattoo artists. The most famous one being, Bang Bang.
Her tattoos vary from a small crossbones tattoo to the big Egyptian goddess Isis all over her chest. Remember the tattoo artist Bang Bang we just mentioned? Well, most of them were placed by him. Little did we know, Rihanna was the one who helped Keith jumpstart his career amogst the celebrity tattooists.
Let’s take a deep dive into her tattoo journey and learn more about it.
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Some of her smaller tattoos
Did you know that...
The Lion is the most tattooed zodiac sign with a whopping 63% of all the zodiac signs. The second largest entry is Aries.
One ear wasn’t enough for RiRi, so she also decided to get a tattoo on her left ear. It’s said this was a matching tattoo with her BFF. She got a star tattoo on the cartilage part of her left ear.
Her best friend is from Barbados, so while she was visiting Rihanna in New York City – they saw an opportunity to do something crazy and they took it.
Pisces - astrological sign
Rihanna, the iconic singer-songwriter decided to get her first tattoo behind her right ear. She chose to place her zodiac sign right in that spot! Rihanna was born on February 20, 1988, which makes her a Pisces. Her astrological sign is very important to her.
This was done by a famous Brazilian artist who made her first tattoo become reality when she was only 17 years old.
It's all about the sparkle - more stars
Rihanna’s tattoos never disappoint. Her neck is beautifully covered with stars that go down to her upper back. This star tattoo was done by the famous tattoo artist Bang Bang. It seems like the singer is really into stars!
She first got this tattoo done by another tattoo artist and later went ahead and added the finishing touches by another artist.
The other tattoo on her neck is a text that reads ‘rebelle fleur’. What does this neck tattoo mean, though?
Well, majority of her fans first assumed the tattoo was grammatically incorrect. They thought her intentions were to get ‘rebelious flower’, but as it came out she wanted ‘rebel flower’.
Rihanna clarified this in a text to Bang Bang, telling him that since they’re two nouns, rebelle does not have to be after fleur. This way it translates to rebel flower, not rebelious flower. It’s as simple as that!
A tattoo as a birthday gift?
Roman numerals are tattooed on her neck as well, more specifically, towards the upper left shoulder. These numerals translate to the birthday of her best friend and her manager, Melissa Forde. Of course, her best friend got the same tattoo as Rihanna, with, you guessed it, her birthday.
Rihanna is really into matching tattoos, she also tried this with her ex-boyfriend but that didn’t end up that well. Needless to say, she covered all of those tattoos.
Praise the Lord - the religious side of RiRi
Now is probably a good time to mention that Rihanna was brought up in a Christian household. There are a few religious tattoos we’ll come across.
In 2012 the famous singer got a small Christian crucifix cross tattooed on her left collarbone. Tattoo artist Bang Bang diluted the ink with water for this one. He also used the same technique for the infamous ‘rebelle fleur’ tattoo. This gave the tatts a lighter effect.
The singer-songwriter has an Arabic tattoo as well. Written in Arabic, on Rihanna’s lower ribcage the tattoo reads “Al Hurria fi Al Maseeh” which translates into “Freedom in God” She chose this Arabic phrase, because this tattoo shows her religious side.
Cross number two!
As an addition to her religious body art collection, Rihanna decided to add another cross on her right wrist.
Showing up to Bang Bang’s studio at midnight, she requested the negative space intricate design of a cross and didn’t leave until 5 am! Such legends, both of them.
It goes without saying that this cross tattoo is also a symbol of her faith.
Even more than religion, spiritual tattoos
The further we go, the deeper the meanings behind her tattoos become. With these next few ones, we’ll demonstrate to you how thoughtful Riri actually was when picking her body art.
Egyptian themed ones
Rihanna’s tattoos are mostly small but not this one,… she decided to get a tattoo of the goddess Isis.
This is yet another example of how Rihanna’s tattoos have a lot of meaning. She got the Egyptian goddess Isis tattooed to pay tribute to her grandmother named Dolly. RiRi saw her grandmother as a perfect mother and wife. Isis is a prime example of a complete woman. Well, we’re not here to put a definition of what a ”complete” woman is, but she was worshipped as one! According to mythology she had many different gifts and she was seen as a Mother goddess.
Makes sense why she tributed this one to her grandma.
Did you know that...
The ribs and the belly are the second most painful place to get a tattoo. There’s not much flesh, it is bony and it is thin skin. First place goes to the nipples. The least painful places to get a tattoo are areas of your body with fewer nerve endings. Think outer shoulder, calf,…
Rihanna has another Egyptian tattoo, it seems that she is fond of them. She got the Egyptian queen Nefertiti tattooed in 2013.
This one is located on her ribs, right above the Arabic text. The tattoo is hardly ever seen, which some may argue is a pity.
...noƨƨɘl ɒ ƨγɒwlɒ ɘɿυliɒʇ ɒ ɿɘvɘИ
Okay, I’m sorry, my own eyes hurt from trying to read this…, but luckily this one isn’t meant for us. Rihanna has this tattooed on her chest and shoulder and you guessed it, it’s mirrored. This is so she could read it in the mirror and this way she can tell herself that it is truly never a failure, but always a lesson that she is dealing with.
The famous singer herself thinks that there is always a lesson in everything in life. Rihanna’s shoulder tattoo is also self-motivating and her tattoo artist did a great job with the fine elegant writing.
Maybe not a religious tattoo, but definitely one with a spiritual meaning!
The lower back of the singer is inked with the Thibetan script, that translates to ‘lover’.
This one of Rihanna’s tattoos, represents the people she loves and the people in her life who love(d) her.
She also has a small gun under her armpit. This gun tattoo got her into a little controversy, because some people thought it was promoting violence.
The tattoo artist Bang Bang debunked these claims and revealed the true meaning behind the gun tattoo. It represents RiRi’s strength and power!
Henna hand tattoo
Moving onto her hands, her left hand is beautifully covered in Indian henna art made by the artist Bang Bang.
This hand tattoo was a cover-up for a tattoo that she was unsatisfied with. Rihanna flew her tattoo artist Bang Bang out to do this henna tattoo.
Maori tribal tattoo
The other hand has a small tribal design on it, this was her first experience with the traditional chiseling technique of the Maori people in New Zealand. The design flows beautifully with the flow of her hand!
Yet another tattoo that not only shows her spiritual side, but appreciation for culture aswell.
The singer has her finger tattooed as well, she has a tattoo that says ‘love’ on her middle finger. This text is in cursive and elegant writing. She got this tattoo in 2008 when she was 20 years old.
The second finger tattoo is on her index finger, she has the text ‘shhh…’ This finger tattoo has been copied a lot. Lindsay Lohan and Lily Allen are a few of these examples. They both have the same tattoo as RiRi.
The famous singer and songwriter has a Thug life tattoo on her knuckles. This is not a normal black tattoo, it’s a semi-permanent white ink tattoo. Rihanna got this tattoo as a tribute to the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur. The thug life tattoo was tattooed by the artist Mark Mahoney.
Did you know that...
The best known Thug life tattoo is that of Tupac Shakur, He is considered by many to be one of the most influential rappers of all time. Tupac is also one of the best-selling rap artists, with more than 75 million records sold worldwide. The famous thug life tattoo was tattooed on his belly.
Her ankle tattoos
She has the year 1988 on her right ankle, this is of course the year she was born in. This tattoo was written in a gothic style.
1988 was also done by the artist Bang Bang, which by now you’ve probably realised is her go-to tattoo artist.
Secondly, she has a falcon on her ankle, this bird is shaped like a gun. This was also tattooed by tattoo artist Bang Bang. Rihanna decided to get this tattoo after she was inspired by the metropolitan museum of Art in New York.
With the falcon, she covered up her 2nd ever tattoo, a little music notes tattoo.
The star had a shark tattoo on her ankle which she covered up just recently with another tattoo. The old shark tattoo looks like a crown halfway wrapped around her ankle now.
The previous shark tattoo is the infamous matching tattoo she got together with her ex, Drake.
The skull and crossbones tattoo
Rihanna has a crossbones tattoo on her left ankle which she got in 2008.
She played with some colors in this one and made the skull red and pink. The pop singer did this to give the skull a feminine touch.
The rise of the tattoo artist Bang Bang
We’ve mentioned the name Bang Bang throughout a lot, and assuming you’ve read the title you know we had to dedicate a few paragraphs to him.
Besides the fact that this is Rihanna’s favorite tattoo artist, that’s also done majority of her body art, he also gained his fame thanks to her.
The famous singer has a tattoo on her hip, a Sanskrit prayer, that was supposed to translate to: “forgiveness, honesty, suppression and control”- a quote from the Sanatana Dharma. It’s supposedly the first tattoo Bang Bang did on Rihanna’s body!
Unfortunately, the tattoo was misspelled and now translates to “long suffering, truthfulness, self-restraint, inward calm, fear and fearlessness”.
The australian Sanskrit expert Mark Fielden further explained to the world, that not only is the script translated wrong, there’s also a part of it missing. The full Sanskrit prayer continues with: ”pleasure, pain, birth, death”
This might have been another mistake or perhaps Rihanna only wanted the first part, because it’s what resonated with her more.
It’s very much worthy to mention, that this was the first tattoo Bang Bang did on Rihanna.
Keith Scott “Bang Bang” McCurdy (born November 28, 1985) is an American celebrity tattoo artist. His tattoo shop is located in New York City and he’s known for his work with other celebs: Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, LeBron James, Adele, and Miley Cyrus,… But how did he get there?
The answer my dear friends, is Rihanna. At the time, and to this day, Keith didn’t pay attention to who was walking into his shop. He was just a tattoo artist like any other, minding his own business.
As we can all imagine, when you’re a tattoo artist you tend to have a lot on your mind. If you’re not tattooing, you’re drawing and if you’re not drawing, you’re learning new business or art related stuff. The job becomes your life.
So, as any busy tattoo artist, Bang Bang wasn’t up to date with celebrities. For him, they were normal people and quite honestly, he probably wasn’t all that interested in celebrities’ lives anyways… Up until the point Rihanna walked in.
In an interview with Inked, Keith told the world that he had no idea who Rihanna was when she walked in. Overtime they became friends and slowly, Rihanna introduced him to her (celebrity) friends. Going in one night at her place, he thought he was going to be tattooing Rihanna.
Little did he know, he ended up watching basketball together with Rihanna and her friend. Not only that, but it was the friend that wanted a tattoo. Originally, that friend wanted the word ‘lion’ written down her finger, but Bang Bang gave a recommendation of doing an image of the actual lion.
That lion became the iconic and infamous tattoo on Cara Delevingne’s index finder. Can you imagine tattooing the most famous model there is without even knowing it?
Before he knew it, he had done some tattoos on multiple celebrities and that’s how he got where he is. Plain luck!
If we’ve learned one thing from Rihanna’s tattoo journey (besides what they are), is that you have to stay hopeful throughout life.
Focus on what you’re doing, keep on track with your goals and work towards reaching them – no matter how big and ‘unrealistic’ they might seem. Don’t give up and who knows, maybe ‘luck’ will find you just like it found Bang Bang.
Which ‘Rihanna tattoo’ resonated most with you? Be sure to let us know!