Part of being a celebrity is having every detail of your life opened up to the attention of the public. With the rise in popularity of body art, and the lessening of the stigmatic perception of things like tattoos and piercings, those who enjoy celebrity watching now scrutinize every little inking and puncture of their favorite stars. The first Western celebrities to make tattoos fashionable were the British upper class in the late 1800s. Family crests and other small signets were popular on forearms.

What is often considered a tattoo Renaissance began in the 1960s, with Western artist Sailor Jack corresponding with Japanese tattooists, and soon-to-be-tattooist Ed Hardy getting a fine art degree. As surely as the ideas of art and tattoo finally fused, so did tattoo and celebrity. Lyle Tuttle tattooed Janis Joplin. In the 1980s Mike Messina inked flowers on Cher’s cheeks. In 2004 Louis Malloy flew from the UK to give David Beckham a new winged cross tattoo on the back of his neck right in the midst of the soccer championships.

More often, musicians and athletes get to have more freedom with their images than actors, and you will find more body art in those realms of celebrity than with actors. Having to transform into a different character each time can be limiting when you have definitive body art yourself. Most often actors have temporary body art, wearing theatrical tattoos for specific characters. However you will find the occasional actor who marches to the beat of their own tune and doesn't mind having their tattoos painted out for various character roles. Angelina Jolie is probably the most tattooed Academy Award winning actress to date. She has tribal dragons, a Thai tiger, and various Latin sayings across her shoulders and arms. Actor Johnny Depp ranks as heavily tattooed for his caliber of talent and breadth of acting work. His tattooed arms are as often painted blank flesh as left with their own tattoos showing and incorporated into character.

Rock bands have long embraced the tattoo, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rose Tattoo and Biohazard being examples where all members have a well-developed collection of tattoos. Performer Henry Rollins began his tattoo collection while the lead singer of Black Flag, and continues to carry it with him in his careers as spoken-word artist, actor and writer/publisher. Recently there were mentions in the press that representatives for Eminem were wishing the rapper/actor would stop adding to his tattoo collection so that he wouldn’t become less marketable in consideration of acting roles. Many of Eminem's tattoos are fineline blackwork, a personal combination of images in a coverage style that is typical and popular today in the rap world.

Rebel sports celebrities tend to sport more ink than the true mainstream superstars. You can be big in sports and be tattooed, but trends indicate that the really big endorsements go to the guys with a broader, clean-cut image. Dennis Rodman broke through ink on the basketball courts, and the Rock wears his Samoan family heritage on his arm in the wrestling ring. During football season, watch for team logos and mascots along with fraternity brands on the players arms.

For movies with fantastic tattoos, all you have to do it hit your rental source of choice and many a fantastic set of tattoos can be yours for the viewing. The movie xXx (Triple X) brought tattoos out of the realm of the villian and put them all over the hero for once. As Xander Cage, actor Vin Diesel is covered with a mix of modern tattoos styles, as befitting an underground extreme sports enthusiast turned government secret agent. X has one full sleeve, one partial sleeve, chest work, stomach tattoos and a wardrobe that shows it all off.

As the post-modern vampire slayer Blade, Wesley Snipes has tribal blackwork on his arms, chest and back, as well as the sides of his head and the back of his nect. The Daywalker's tattoos echo the curving, barbed silver weapons that he uses to dispatch his quarry. Pamela Anderson had her arm tattooed for real with a barbed wire armband for her role in the movie BARBWIRE. Following her split from husband Tommy Lee, she had the "Tommy" tattoo on her finger edited to read "Mommy" in reference to her two sons. She also has a tribal piece on the small of her back and a tattoo on her ankle.
Ben Affleck
David Beckham
Johnny Depp
Chris Evans
Colin Farrell
Ewan McGregor
Viggo Mortenson
The Rock
Dennis Rodman
Henry Rollins

Lenny Kravitz

Janet Jackson
Angelina Jolie
Misc Tattooed Actresses

Keifer Sutherland

    Celebrity Tattoos
    For most, tattooing is a private, artistic decision.  For a celebrity, getting tattoos can become a media circus with future employment ramifications.  And a tattoo design that was crafted with personal intention can suddenly become the lat...
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