Artists with Ink – Rihanna

Tattoos have long been a part of the music scene. Ink and rock, and later ink and rap, and then ink and pop – they all go hand in hand. Or plectrum to skin. Or lyrics on canvas. Or… well, you get the idea. 

Let’s take a look at some of our favourite body art adorned performers, starting with Caribbean Queen RiRi. 

Addicted to ink, intrigued by the culture    

Gorgeous superstar Rihanna has over 20 tattoos. The Barbados-native turned icon has said that getting tattooed is like an addiction for her. “I like hanging out in tattoo shops,” she says. “I am so intrigued by tattoos. It is an entire culture, and I study it. Sometimes I go with friends, or just by myself.” The 32- year-old reportedly got her first tattoo – the symbol for her zodiac sign, Pisces, behind her ear –  in Tokyo when she was 17. 

Egyptian symbolism

One of the singer’s most iconic pieces is the underboob tattoo that she got in September 2012. Inked across her lower ribs is the Egyptian goddess Isis. Rihanna had it done as a tribute to her late grandmother who she saw as the “complete woman”, just like the goddess was thought to be. 

The symbolism from the land of the pharaoh doesn’t stop there, as Rihanna had an Egyptian falcon made as a cover-up over some music notes on the inside of her right ankle. She also has a bust of Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. The couple’s claim to fame, apart from Nefertiti’s beauty, was that they introduced a monotheistic religion to Egypt, worshipping Aten, the solar disc. The original of the bust sits in Berlin’s Neue Museum and is one of the art world’s most well-recognized antiques.

The object of some linguistic controversy, the singer has “Rebelle Fleur” tattooed on her neck. Some people claim that because the adjective comes after the noun in French, it should be written the other way around. However, Rihanna anticipated the dispute and in a message to her tattoo artist, Bang Bang (who has done much of her ink) she reportedly wrote: “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.”

Some semi-permanent

In 2012, Rihanna got “Thug Life” tattooed across her knuckles, in honour of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. It was done by legendary tattoo artist Mark Mahoney, widely considered a “founding father” of black and grey with a single needle. However, the tattoo was done in white ink, and as the fingers are a notoriously tricky spot for ink longevity, is fought an uphill battle and faded rather quickly. 

The singer, entrepreneur and designer also has, among others, a camouflage shark on her left ankle, the words “Never a failure always a lesson” written backwards to be read in the mirror, under her collarbone, and the birthdate of her best friend in Roman numerals across her shoulder. Her friend apparently has a corresponding piece.