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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.
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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 analyzed by fans to gain further insight into who they are as a person.
Some people, like Johnny Depp and Zoe Kravitz, have used tattoos to tell their own stories or picked out some visually stunning art to adorn their skin.
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.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
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.
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; Winterstone/Instagram
In December 2019, the “Slide Away” singer memorialized 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.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images/Amy Sussman/Getty Images
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 honor 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 symbolizes eternal motherhood, to honor 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.
Rihanna also has a tattoo of a falcon with spread wings on her ankle. The ink mirrors imagery of Horus Behdety, the god of the midday sun, from the Ptolemaic Period in Egypt.
Cara Delevingne got an intricate tattoo of a lion’s head on her index finger.
Tim P. Whitby and Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
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 favorite 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.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO; Jason Momoa/Instagram
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.
Jesse Grant / Stringer
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.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Jonboytattoo/Instagram
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.
Malik went to celebrity favorite JonBoy in New York City for the ink in 2016, and the tattoo artist shared a photo of the finished product on Instagram.
“May the force be with you,” he wrote.
Adam Levine’s humongous back tattoo is an example of an impeccable cover-up.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images and Adam Levine/Instagram
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 honors both his son and his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Jesse Grant and Chris Jackson/Getty Images
The actor’s forearm tattoo, which depicts a sparrow flying over the sunset with “Jack” below it, has a double meaning.
The ink honors 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.
Matt Winkelmeyer and Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
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.
Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images
Nearly three years after the musician was arrested on charges of assault after a dispute with his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009, Brown got a neck tattoo of a woman’s face.
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.
Paras Griffin / Getty Images
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” stylized like the button on Facebook.
Ariana Grande has a palm tattoo that doesn’t make sense.
Jun Sato/GC Images; @arianagrande/Instagram
The singer, who studies the Japanese language, meant to write “7 Rings” in Japanese characters to celebrate her 2019 song.
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.
Jon Furniss / Getty Images
The actor showed off his tattoo of the word “YOLO,” an acronym for “You Only Live Once,” in 2011.
Efron decided to get the permanent ink before Drake’s 2012 song “The Motto” catapulted the acronym into the center of pop culture. “YOLO” eventually became a joke, much like Efron’s tattoo.
Fans mocked the actor’s ink, and someone even made a satirical Twitter account for it. Efron has since removed the tattoo.
Hayden Panettiere meant to get “live without regrets” tattooed on her side in Italian, but it’s misspelled.
(RED)/Getty Images; D Dipasupil/Getty Images
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 realized 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.”
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
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.
Mark Sullivan / Getty Images
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.
Joe Scarnici and Jason Merritt/Getty Images
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’ve Googled it before I got it tattooed on my body forever,” she said.
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