The Current

Ariana Grande's latest tattoo went all wrong. Here's how to avoid an inking mishap

Ariana Grande had social media snickering this week when she had the name of her new single — 7 Rings — tattooed on her hand in Japanese. Unfortunately, something got lost in translation, because the tattoo actually says "small charcoal grill."

‘There can be all kinds of different interpretations of ... images, never mind language,’ says tattoo artist

Ariana Grande got a Japanese tattoo that she thought was a tribute to her latest single. What it actually translates to is small charcoal grill. (Getty Images)
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Everyone makes mistakes.

Some, unfortunately, are more permanent than others — like when U.S. pop star Ariana Grande got a tattoo with mistranslated Japanese writing inked onto her hand this week.

She thought what she was getting was a tribute to her latest single, 7 Rings. Instead, it reads "small charcoal grill."

The mishap caused quite the stir on social media.

The singer has since had her tattoo altered, although it allegedly now reads "small charcoal grill finger."

Ariana Grande posted this photo of her fixed tattoo on her Instagram page. (arianagrande/Instagram)

The Current's guest host Connie Walker sat down with Dave Munro, resident tattoo artist and owner of Trouble Bound Studio in St John's, N.L., to talk about what happens when tattoos go wrong.

Here is part of their conversation.

What did you think of when you heard about Ariana Grande's tattoo mistake?

It's unfortunate. I was a little surprised just for the simple fact that, you know, when you're dealing with someone who is a noted celebrity, they're usually not making decisions by themselves … So that would mean a whole lot of people kind of let this slide by before she found out on the internet she was wrong.

Do you ever use Japanese, or characters from any other languages in your tattoos?

I have. I mean, it's always a complicated feature ... I kind of put the onus on the actual client to double check. I mean, the best I can do is Google Translate, and we all know that's horribly wrong most of the time. So I have someone check, and then I have them check again. I have had a friend in the past … who had gone to get a tattoo done, had a friend write out what that was in … Mandarin, and discovered that his friend thought it was really funny to have him have a bag of rice tattooed on his arm.

Have you ever made a mistake when someone was under your needle?

Unfortunately, yes ... I'm a human being. I have 24 years of experience. But, like, you know, every so often there is going to be an unfortunate mistake. Luckily I have an ability to fix these things if I have noticed it … But we try to go out of our way — especially in an industry where things are permanent — to check, double check, work over, make sure the person is right, because there can be all kinds of different interpretations of just even images, never mind language.

What was the mistake that you made, or what kinds of mistakes have you seen?

Spelling mistakes are probably the most common … Design mistakes are kind of a constant. That could come from either the person who is getting the tattoo not understanding how skin lasts, and the longevity of … the actual structure of a tattoo.

Do you ever question anyone's choice of tattoo, like … they want to get something that you think they might end up regretting later?

I work in a custom studio, so all of our work is kind of done in a consultation process … Every so often there will be something that … comes up that you want to discuss with someone. Sometimes it'll be an image that maybe one person would take one way and someone else may take another way.

There was a movement within the Christian community for a little while to get a … cross sort of on the side of the blade of the … wrist, so that it would be upright when you were praying. But your arms aren't upright all the time. So most of the time you have an upside-down cross on your arm. That, just as a design structure, is potentially problematic. If that person is unaware of what would happen when they put their arm down, it's ... important to have that chat.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Produced by Ines Colabrese. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.  

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