The Special Meanings Behind Lady Gaga's 24 Tattoos
Lady Gaga's tattoos are almost as famous as she is. The ink, along with her blond hair, has become an integral part of her look. In Hollywood, there are singers and there are superstars — Lady Gaga falls firmly in the latter category. Between her incredible voice and controversial fashion choices, she certainly knows how to make a lasting impression, and it's garnered her a massive, loyal fan base. Since Lady Gaga made her musical debut almost two decades ago, we've been able to learn more about her, including the interesting pact she made with her father surrounding her ink.
Before she became the tattooed singer that we know today, Lady Gaga had to promise her father that all of her tattoo designs would only be on the left side of her body. "He asked that I remain, on one side, slightly normal," she explained to Rolling Stone. "So I only have my tattoos on my left side. I think he sees [my right side] as my Marilyn Monroe side and he sees [my left side] as my Iggy Pop side."
Two dozen tattoos later, you'd think Lady Gaga might be running out of space (or ideas), but the pop star never seems to tire of getting new ink. While you can't miss some of her pieces, other hidden designs are a bit harder to spot. From floral designs to tributes for her fans and even sweet mementos for her family, all 24 of Gaga's tattoos hold a special meaning.
Read on to learn about all of Lady Gaga's tattoos and their significance.
— Additional reporting by Ariel Baker
Lady Gaga's Treble Clef Tattoo
If you look very closely, you can see Lady Gaga's first tattoo: a treble clef on her lower back. Though she's never expressly stated the meaning of the design, given her passion for her career, we'd have to say the tattoo is dedicated to her love of music.
Lady Gaga's Peace Sign Tattoo
Lady Gaga got a peace sign on her left wrist in 2006, which was inspired by the late John Lennon. During her acceptance speech for the LennonOno Grant For Peace in 2012, Lady Gaga elaborated on her connection with John Lennon, saying, "When I turned 19, I got [a peace sign] tattoo to remind me that if ever I was to gain the attention of the critical mass, even in an exponentially smaller way than John had, that I would commit myself to breeding compassion from my voice."
Lady Gaga's Roses Tattoo
In 2008 Gaga got a swirl of roses on her lower back, created by celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D. The reason she got the tattoo? It was actually so she could blend it into her treble clef tattoo, having regretted getting the music note.
Lady Gaga's Daisies Tattoo
On her left shoulder, Gaga has a cluster of three daisies, which was the fourth tattoo for the singer. Gaga hasn't spoken much about her daisy tattoo in public, but it is believed to be a tribute to her love of the flower.
Lady Gaga's Tokyo Love Tattoo
Above the daisies on her left shoulder, Gaga has the words "Tokyo Love," which was handwritten by Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. Gaga and Araki had collaborated on a bondage-themed photoshoot during her visit to Japan in 2009. As she explained to Interview Magazine, "I was honored to be the first American woman he's photographed, and only the second pop artist, in the company of Björk. He signed the Polaroids "Tokyo Love," and the Haus got tattoos of his marking in celebration."
Lady Gaga's Rainer Maria Rilke Quote Tattoo
While in Japan, Gaga also got the words of poet Rainer Maria Rilke (whom she has called her "favorite writer") inked in a curling German script. The quote 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?"
Lady Gaga's December 18, 1974 Tattoo
Another tattoo that is easy to miss is the date "12/18/1974," which can be found in the middle of Gaga's Rilke quote. The date honors her aunt, Joanne Stefani Germanotta, who died from lupus at the age of 19. Though she passed away 12 years before Gaga was born, Joanne always had a huge presence in the Germanotta family and served as an inspiration (and namesake) for the performer. "What I know of Joanne is what she left behind, which was a lot of loss and a lot of tragedy in my family," she said.
Lady Gaga's Dad Tattoo
Gaga inked the word "dad" inside of a heart as a tribute to her father, Joe Germanotta, after he had open-heart surgery in 2009. Her father initially didn't want to get the surgery, but she managed to convince him, and the heart valve replacement that he had ended up saving his life.
Lady Gaga's Little Monsters Tattoo
As a tribute to her fans in February 2010, Gaga got the words "Little Monsters" inked in calligraphy near the inside of her left elbow, right by her Rilke quote. On Twitter, she shared a picture of the tattoo with the words, "look what i did last night. little monsters forever, on the arm that holds my mic."
Lady Gaga's Unicorn Tattoo
On her left thigh, Gaga has a unicorn, along with lyrics from her 2010 song, "Born This Way." In a radio interview with the Big Top 40 Show, Gaga revealed that the tattoo came from her childhood love of My Little Ponies. "I was obsessed with the idea of a creature that was born with something magical that sort of made them the misfit in the world of the stallion," she said. "They are, in essence, a mythical creature. The unicorn is born magical and it's not the unicorn's fault and it doesn't make it any more or less special or any less unique, but it can't help that it was born with that magic."
Lady Gaga's Artpop Tattoo
Lady Gaga's Anchor Tattoo
While in Amsterdam, Netherlands, during her "Born This Way" tour in 2012, Gaga got a small anchor tattooed just below her left armpit at Amsterdam Tattoo Museum by local artist Hank. She later tweeted pics of her new tat, writing, "New Tat. Stamp of His Mermaid." It is believed that the anchor is a tribute to her then-boyfriend Taylor Kinney, who she met when he appeared in her video for "You And I," where she played a mermaid.
Lady Gaga's Cherub Tattoo
A rarely-seen tattoo is the cherub on the back of Gaga's neck, which she got done in front of thousands of fans during her Fame fragrance launch at the Guggenheim Museum in 2012. The tattoo artist Mark Mahoney explained that the Renaissance-era angel was chosen as "a nod to her Italian heritage."
Lady Gaga's Rio Tattoo
On the left side of her neck, Gaga has a tribute to Rio de Janeiro, with the "i" replaced by a cross and the script created from fan signatures. She shared a picture of the new ink on Twitter, saying, "R†O. Monsters, all over the world you continue to inspire me everyday, your like an endless ocean of possibilities." She also added a tweet to explain how the tattoo came to be: "the font was derived out of the signatures of three fans, all from different neighborhoods and ages. Represents how music brings us 2gether."
Lady Gaga's Mouse Tattoo
In honor of her sister Natali, whose nickname growing up was "Mouse," Gaga got a cartoon mouse holding a sewing needle and thread on the back of her left arm. The end of the thread reads "Nat." Natali is a fashion designer who graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. On her website, Gaga explained, "Got it for Nat, my sister and original hoodrat, her name was always mouse and I am loopy. Needle represents her passion for fashion design. I love her more than anything, she inspires me. Also cuz we watched "Cinderella" together and the mice sewed in that movie! It has a lot of meanings."
Lady Gaga's Trumpet Tattoo
In 2014, Gaga got a trumpet inked on the inside of her right bicep. The tattoo was designed by her friend and "Cheek to Cheek" collaborator Tony Bennett. She debuted the piece on Instagram, along with the caption, "Bennedetto. Tony's an artist. he sketched this trumpet and were getting tattoos @brainnewmanny playing on the tony album and arranging music. Tattoos by @badnewsbecca photo by @skwotty."
Lady Gaga's Monster Paw Tattoo
Just under her left armpit, Gaga got a huge hand in Hamburg, Germany, dedicated to her Little Monsters, whom she always encourages to "put your paws up." In a Reddit AMA question and answer session, Gaga revealed that the paw was her favorite tattoo to date. "Its the Monster Paw, the symbol of my fans as they have held their paws high in the crowd every night since we became a community. I cherish it for its meaning, the loyalty, devotion, and strength we share. I wanted it engraved on me forever."
Lady Gaga's Mother Monster Tattoo
To complete her trio of tattoos dedicated to her Little Monsters, Gaga added the words "Mother Monster" with lace detailing extending from her ribcage to her armpit. She was so eager to get her nickname inscribed on her ribs that she flew tattoo artist Eric Gonzalez over from LA to Manchester, England, in order to get the ink.
Lady Gaga's David Bowie Tattoo
In February 2016, just one month after David Bowie died, Gaga got a portrait of the legendary performer from the cover of his "Aladdin Sane" album inked above her left hip. Before performing a tribute to Bowie at the Grammy Awards just two days later, she told The Hollywood Reporter what made her fall in love with Bowie when she first moved to New York City. "He is a true, true artist and I don't know if I ever went, 'Oh, I'm going to be that way like this,' or if I arrived upon it slowly, realizing it was my calling, and that's what drew me to him," she said.
Lady Gaga's Sexual Assault Survivor Symbol Tattoo
After cowriting the song "'Til It Happens to You" for the 2015 documentary "The Hunting Ground," Gaga had a symbol added to her left shoulder as a show of solidarity, which was designed by one of the sexual assault survivors who joined Gaga onstage at the Oscars, Jackie Lin. Lin, a Stanford University student, created the design of a rose on fire to symbolize unity. About two dozen of the survivors got the symbol tattooed on their bodies before the Oscars, and Gaga joined them. "At rehearsals the survivors and I made a pact," she revealed in a Snapchat story while tattoo artist David Allen inked the design.
Lady Gaga's Joanne Tattoo
After releasing her fifth studio album, "Joanne," in 2016, Gaga got her late aunt Joanne's signature permanently inked on her left forearm. Despite being opposed to tattoos, her father has a matching tat as well. "Got Joanne tattooed on my arm in her actual signature," she wrote in her Instagram caption. "My dad got one too. With an angel on his shoulder."
Lady Gaga's Haus Tattoo
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Haus of Gaga (the team that's helped bring her signature looks to life for years), she had the words "Haus" added on her left arm above her mouse tattoo. "Almost our 10 yr anniversary Haus tattoos," she shared on Snapchat.
Lady Gaga's G-A-G-A Music Notes Tattoo
In a matching design with her manager Bobby Campbell, Lady Gaga inked a musical staff with notes that spell out G-A-G-A on her right arm. Originally, the staff had only four lines, but she quickly corrected the tattoo to add a fifth.
Lady Gaga's La Vie En Rose Tattoo
Lady Gaga's latest tattoo, which she got right before the Oscars in February 2019, is a tribute to her life-changing role in "A Star Is Born." The design — a rose with the words "La Vie En Rose" down her spine — is a nod to the classic Edith Piaf song that her character, Ally, performed in a drag bar in front of Bradley Cooper's character, Jackson Maine, in the movie. It was also the song that she sang at the opening of the Parker Institute For Cancer Immunotherapy at Sean Parker's house, which convinced Cooper to cast her in the first place.