The Meanings Behind Ryan Gosling's 5 Known Tattoos

Last year, Ryan Gosling's partner, actor Eva Mendes, debuted a wrist tattoo that reads, "de Gosling." In Spanish, "de" translates to "of," which is a common preposition women in Hispanic culture use to add their husband's surname to the end of theirs. (Mendes is Cuban.) This sparked rumors among fans that Gosling and Mendes have gotten married at some point in their 12 years together. While neither has commented on what the ink means, it did make people wonder whether the couple have more sweet tattoos.

Although Mendes has just the one known design, Gosling has five known tattoos so far. The actor has been open about the meanings of many of them, and he's even shared that he has some DIY ink as well. Some have pretty clear meanings — like his "Esme" tattoo dedicated to his daughter Esmeralda — while others, like what looks like a cactus tattoo, have a significance that's less obvious.

Gosling has worn fake tattoos for his movies, like a design that's a reference to Greek mythology in "The Gray Man." In "The Place Beyond the Pines," you can see one of Gosling's real pieces of body art — a tattoo of a ghostly woman — on display among many fake ones. (For the record: no, you won't see him wearing any tattoos for his role as Ken in his most recent film, Greta Gerwig's "Barbie.")

If you're wondering what each of his five known tattoos means, we've rounded them up for you in the slides ahead. Keep reading for a guide to Ryan Gosling's tattoos — and the meanings behind them.

Ryan Gosling's Forearm Tattoo
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Ryan Gosling's Forearm Tattoo

If you look closely at Gosling's left forearm, he has a tattoo of what appears to be a cactus — but looks can be deceiving. In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Gosling admitted that the ink is actually a botched homemade tattoo, and it was originally supposed to be a monster hand dropping a bleeding heart.

Ryan Gosling's Shoulder Tattoo
Atsushi Nishijima/©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Ryan Gosling's Shoulder Tattoo

While it's hard to spot under the many tattoos he's wearing in "The Place Beyond the Pines," Gosling has some ink paying homage to "The Giving Tree" on his left shoulder that you can see peeking through. He has mentioned that his mom often read the children's story when he was growing up. In 2010, though, when Gosling was asked about his tattoo in an interview with Vulture, he said, "That story's the worst . . . I don't want to be the tree."

Ryan Gosling's Wrist Tattoo
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Ryan Gosling's Wrist Tattoo

Gosling's barcode tattoo — a (slightly more successful) DIY tattoo — is displayed prominently on his left wrist, although he typically covers it up with a watch. The actor said in a 2007 interview with The Guardian, "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." His "it's not that deep" attitude is definitely at play with this ink.

Ryan Gosling's Inner-Bicep Tattoo
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Ryan Gosling's Inner-Bicep Tattoo

Check out Gosling's inner left bicep: tucked under his T-shirt you'll see that he has an outline tattoo of a woman ghost posing next to a skeleton. While he has never confirmed its meaning, the design is said to be modeled after a famous photo of Hollywood actor Theda Bara, who starred in films from 1914 to 1926.

Ryan Gosling's "Esme" Hand Tattoo

Gosling has a subtle set of finger tattoos on the knuckles of his left hand that spell out "Esme" — his nickname for his daughter Esmeralda. Fans speculated that this most recent tattoo, which he got in 2015, was temporary, but others believe the ink is permanent. He has neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.