| September 12, 2012

Seeing as we're in the midst of a "tattoo takeover," we figured we'd take a few minutes to talk about celebrity tattoos. They’ve become so commonplace that it's almost rare to see a celebrity who doesn't have one peeking out from their sleeves or their gowns.

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But have you ever stopped to wonder about your favorite star's tats? What they mean, why they're there, or how they've affected lives and careers? Sometimes, the stories surrounding these markings are more interesting than the designs themselves.

READ: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Tattoos

We researched a slew of our favorite celebrities to bring you the tales behind their tattoos. Have a look below:

Angelina Jolie

Jolie sports a variety of tattoos all over her body, but perhaps her most famous markings are on her left shoulder. What was once a loving tribute to her second husband Billy Bob Thornton (complete with a dragon) was removed to make room for a list of geographic coordinates. These coordinates, of which there are seven, correspond with the birthplaces of each of her children (Cambodia for Maddox, Vietnam for Pax, Ethiopia for Zahara, Namibia for Shiloh and France for twins Vivienne and Knox) along with the birthplace of her partner (Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma).

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Katy Perry

In addition to the singer’s many tattoos, which include a strawberry on her ankle and the word “Jesus” on her wrist, Katy Perry bears the phrase “Anuugacchati Pravaha” on her inner bicep. The words, which she and ex-husband Russell Brand both inked on themselves during happier times, roughly translate to “go with the flow” from Sanskrit. “That's our motto,” Katy once said in an interview with the QMI agency. “We decided to get it after all the whole engagement in India, which was really beautiful and wonderful. He'd never had a tattoo and I kind of pressured him into doing it.”

READ: The Text Message That Ended Katy Perry's Marriage


Every time we turn around, it seems Rihanna has a new tattoo. One of her most visible is located underneath her right clavicle, reading "Never a failure. Always a lesson." As Rihanna explained during an interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," it's printed backwards so she can read it whenever she looks into a mirror. "It's basically saying that it's OK to make a mistake," she added. "Just don't make them twice."

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Victoria Beckham

Spice Girl and fashionista Victoria Beckham got "Ani ledodi vedodi li haro'eh ba'shoshanim" tattooed on her neck to commemorate her sixth wedding anniversary with soccer star David Beckham (who inked the very same phrase on his forearm). The Hebrew quote, taken from the Old Testament, translates to "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine, who grazes among lilies."

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Mike Tyson

Some say that Mike Tyson's face tattoo is reminiscent of the skin carvings worn by the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Others, like Tyson's tattoo artist Victor Whitmill, have claimed that Tyson's design is the intellectual property of Whitmill and Whitmill alone. Before the release of the film "The Hangover Part II," Whitmill sued Warner Bros. for featuring the design on Ed Helms' character without his permission. The movie studio and Whitmill eventually reached a settlement.

David Beckham

David Beckham has more tattoos than we can count, but one particular design caused a stir in March of 2012. A provocative forearm tattoo of Victoria Beckham adorned with the vow "Til death us do part" (originally David's way of showcasing his marital commitment) popped up in promotional posters for Sainsbury's Active Kids initiative, which is aimed at preschool-aged children. David is currently an ambassador for the program, but some folks were none too pleased when his image — complete with a visible tattoo of his scantily-clad wife — was distributed to 47,000 schools and community groups throughout the United Kingdom.

PHOTOS: David Beckham Shirtless

Hayden Panettiere

Actress Hayden Panettiere, known for her role on NBC's "Heroes," has the words "Vivere senza rimipianti," tattooed down the left side of her torso. The phrase means "to live without regrets" in Italian, but ironically, it's spelled wrong; her tattoo features an extra "i" in the word "rimpianti."

READ: Hayden Panettiere's Favorite Fast Food Is ...

Ryan Gosling

Despite having a tattoo inspired by "The Giving Tree," a book which he says his mother used to read to him as a little boy, Gosling once told the The Guardian that “A tattoo should never be meaningful, because at a certain point you’re going to hate it, and it might as well make you laugh.” He also explained one of his more puzzling additions to Metro, saying, "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.”

PHOTOS: Ryan Gosling's Leading Ladies

Emma Stone

As actress Emma Stone said during an interview with David Letterman, she and her mother planned on getting matching bird-feet tattoos to commemorate her mother's triumph over breast cancer. Yet that's only half of the story, because her tattoo was designed by none other than Sir Paul McCartney. "My mom's favorite song is 'Blackbird,'" explained Stone. "I wrote a letter to Paul McCartney asking him if he would draw two little bird feet — because he wrote the song — and yesterday he sent them to me."

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Megan Fox

Among Megan Fox's assorted tattoos, including a yin-yang and a paraphrased Shakespeare quotation from "King Lear," the actress inked Marilyn Monroe's face on her forearm — and now she's in the process of getting it removed. Speaking with Italian fashion magazine Amica, Fox gave her reasons for lasering away Monroe's image, saying. "She was a negative person, she was disturbed, bipolar. I do not want to attract this kind of negative energy in my life."

READ: The Bizarre Name Megan Fox Gave Her Baby

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp famously had one of his tattoos changed from "Winona Forever" to "Wino Forever" after breaking up with actress Winona Ryder, but his forearm tattoo is here to stay. The design, which features a sparrow flying in front of a sunset with the name "Jack" beneath it, was originally fake, and was drawn on Depp for his role as Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. In honor of his son, John "Jack" Christopher Depp III, the star had it slightly altered and inked into his skin for real.

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Lea Michele

As "Glee" actress Lea Michele once explained to David Letterman, getting a tattoo is a family activity for her. "It'll be like Easter, and we'll be talking, and we'll be like, 'Let's all go get tattoos!'" She's got over a dozen of them too, one of which depicts two musical notes from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

READ: Lea Michele Gets Half-Naked For Photo

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has several tattoos, but they all share the same hemisphere. "My father asked that I remain on one side slightly normal," she once said during an interview at Google headquarters. "So I only have my tattoos on my left side." The tattoo pictured above is a German quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke, which translates to: "In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?"

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Miley Cyrus

Ex-"Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus has part of Teddy Roosevelt's "Citizenship in a Republic" speech inked on her forearm. It reads, "So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Her fiance Liam Hemsworth later had the speech's preceding phrase ("If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly") tattooed on the same arm.

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Nicki Minaj

"First of all, I wish I never got the tattoo, because it's on my arm," says Nicki Minaj of the prominent Chinese characters. As she stated in a Billboard interview, she originally planned to get only one of the characters on the back of her neck, but found that area to be too painful. Her tattoo reportedly reads, "God is with me always."

Evan Rachel Wood

Actress Evan Rachel Wood has numerous tattoos, but the most prominent is located between her shoulder blades. "It’s Edgar Allan Poe," she told Time Out Chicago. "It says, 'All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.' My mother used to read him to me when I was little."

Colin Farrell

In 2001, Farrell got the name of then-wife Amelia Warner tattooed around his ring finger, but they were only wed for four months. Later pictures of Farrell suggest he's undergone procedures to have the tattoo removed.

Jennifer Aniston

"Friends" alum Jennifer Aniston got a foot tattoo in honor of her late dog Norman. The dog, a welsh corgi-terrier mix, died at the age of 15 in May 2011.