Johnny’s first tattoos is a Cherokee Indian chief for his ancestral heritage – on his right biceps. “I started getting tattoos when they were sort of verboten in Hollywood… 1983, 1984. I was 17 when I got the first one [a Cherokee chief, to honor] my Indian heritage.” (Inquirer.net, May 13, 2011)
His mother’s name “Betty Sue” is inside a heart with some tribal flourishing on his left upper arm. He got it on May 31, 1988.
His tattoo was once dedicated to his, at that time, girlfriend Winona Ryder with the words “Winona forever”, but later he laser edited it to “Wino forever” – the tattoo is on his upper right arm.
Over the heart with his mother’s name he has an inverted triangle. The triangle was originally drawn by Russian painter Ilya Chasnik in 1925. Chasnik was part of a group which embraced the Communist ideal of producing art for the benefit of the worker and arranged many public art projects – maybe this tattoo has political meaning for Johnny. There’s a photo of him posing next to the picture.
This symbol from his movie The Brave he has inside his right arm. He got it around fall 1998.
Three little rectangles are to be found on his right index finger. He once described them as “permanent phone doodles”.
On his left hand is this number 3. Regarding this 3 he made this comment about a three in general in the Young Flix Magazine in April 1996: “Three is a sort of special number for me. It’s a very creative number. Triangle, trinity — you know, two people make another person. Three is a mystical, magical number.” But in an interview not long ago he said, that he and his friend “just put it there one day while they were bored.”? The same tattoo has Vanessa Paradis’ sister Allison on her neck.. And the same 3 (in this exact font) appears in the film credits of the Brave.
Johnny wears the name of his daugther Lily-Rose Melody close to his heart. The letters are made up of little rosebuds.
From the movie Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl he took the tattoo on his right forearm, turned it around, so that the bird flies towards Johnny, and added his son’s name.
On his outside lower right leg Johnny has a skull and crossbones with the letters ‘death is certain’ below.
A question mark on the right inside leg over the ankle. It’s a part of The Brave symbol.
The tattoo on Johnnys arm appeared first at the MTV movie awards, June 2nd, 2008, and reads “Silence Exile Cunning”, a quote from a book from James Joyce titled “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. At five pages of the end of the book, we can find this quote, from the main character Stephen: “I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile, and cunning.”
The tattoo on the inside Johnnys upper left arm appeared first during the filming for The Rum Diary in Puerto Rico, March 2009. It represents his family: Vanessa and his two kids. It looks as if the ones for Lily-Rose and Jack are attached to each other.
Probably December 20, 2009, Johnny got two more tattoos at the shamrock social club on the sunset boulevard. There was info, he was in there that day for 2 hours (though the tattoos must have taken much more time). The tattoo on his right arm is his grandfather as a sailor. The tattoo on the other arm shows his mother in a waitress uniform (she used to work at Holiday Inn).
On the front of his left shin, Johnny has a Gonzo fist, which first appeared while filming Pirates of the Caribbean 4, on June 22, 2010 in Hawaii. Above the Gonzo fist, Johnny has some writing. He got it a few days later.
This tattoo first appeared inside Johnnys upper right arm at the Voices for Justice concert in Arkansas on August 28th, 2010. It shows a skull and crossbones.
Outside his left arm, Johnny has an “Ogum” tattoo and the writing Salve Ogum. Ogum is an Afro-American deity. It is portrayed as a comic-strip character with a crown. It might be that Johnny has drawn a layout of the symbol himself. “Salve” is Portuguese/Latin and means “hail” or “save”. Jonathan Shaw put the tattoo there in 2010, while he spent some time with Johnny in Hawaii.
The 3 small dots Johnny has inside of his left ankle. They first appeared while filming Pirates of the Caribbean-The Curse of the Black Pearl. Johnny loves the number 3 !
Johnny got a new tattoo in late July or August 2011. It’s on his left lower arm, below the Salve Ogum tattoo. It is a rook, the pic coming from a Card game called “Rook”, a game popular in Eastern Kentucky. Johnny changed the 2 in the card that the rook is holding into a 3.
October 7, 2011, Johnny Depp and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three were seen on Sunset Strip. They visited Depp’s favorite tattoo parlor – Mark Mahoney’s Shamrock Social Club, and Damian got a huge tattoo, while Johnny got the same tattoo in smaller. Quoting Damien Echols this is the meaning:
Hsiao Ch’u – Taming Force
Wind over Heaven
What this represents is, whenever you’re facing huge obstacles, you don’t focus on them or you’ll lose heart and be defeated. Instead focus on just putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.
This tattoo was first seen on April 11th, 2012, when Johnny and Marilyn Manson were performing at the Golden Gods awards. It resembles the Harley Davidson Skeleton(Skull) keys (see on the right), just a bit more “antique” and skeleton key like. Damien Echols from the West Memphis 3 got the same. Here what he says about his Skeleton Key Tattoo:
One was a skeleton key because for me, when I was a child, I thought that a skeleton key could literally open any door. So that if you ever got your hands on a skeleton key, you’d be almost unstoppable—no barrier could hold you back. It seemed like an incredibly magical thing. For me now, that’s still what it represents. That one we did simultaneously. He was in L.A. and I was in New York and we were on the phone at the same time both sending each other photographs back and forth, keeping track on the progress and everything else. I was at a shop on Franklin Street called Majestic Tattoo and there was a guy named Alejandro Lopez that worked there. He only worked there for a few weeks. … Now anytime I want something, he’ll come to my apartment.
On April 24th, 2012, at the CinemaCon, the words “no reason” on Johnny’s right inner wrist were seen. Marilyn Manson got the same tattoo (and a song with the same name). From the May 24th issue of the magazine Rolling Stones:
Manson’s answer: “You know why I did it? No reason at all. I just got “No Reason” tattooed on my wrist. You know why? No reason. So it seems like he and Johnny just thought the matching tattoos would be something fun or interesting to do…for no reason!
Pals Depp, Manson get matching tattoos
(…)The shock-rocker and the Hollywood superstar inked a new chapter in their longtime friendship by getting massive matching tattoos on Monday, Manson says.
“We both got the same thing,” he says. “It was quite painful but enjoyable. It’s a giant tattoo of a tree and a skeleton that covers my whole back. It’s from Flowers of Evil by Baudelaire. It’s one of my favourite books.”
We could see the tattoo the first time while the reshoots for the Lone Ranger were done the end of September 2012, where Johnny showed us his naked back. See the cover of the book to get an idea what it looks like.
This tattoo was first seen at the Dark Shadows Premiere in Japan, so he got it before May 12th, 2012. The circle shows repeatedly the word “Brother” in the Theban alphabet.
This one I actually got with Johnny Depp. It says “brother” on the outside and my name and his name in the middle of it. Mark Mahoney did it.
This tattoo which looks like a huge flash or inserted Z or N is on Johnny’s left hand – we could see it the first time when he became an adopted member of the Comanche Indian tribe on May 16, 2012. “The “Z” or the zig zag is a common Native American symbol and motif. The straight horizontal line in Native American glphys represents movement upon Mother Earth and closing connections with Father Sky.
If the center line of the Z slants left it indicates the path of the soul – the journey the spirit takes and the walk that is made on within the spirit. If the middle line in the Z slants to the right, this indicates forces that call loudly to a person’s soul – passions or issues that compel a person to take a chosen path of life. The two horizontal lines (top and bottom – connecting the middle slant line) indicate the journey of life and the understanding as we walk upon the grounding plane of Earth – we area also living the life of Sky. These lines definitions are common to Plains Native Peoples of North America.” more info
Damien Echols got the same tattoo in celebration of Johnny’s adoption.
This tattoo on the back of his upper left arm was first seen on June 23rd 2012 in Creede and done in Austin at Southside Tattoo. It is a little guitarist which was drawn by Johnny’s son Jack. Bill Carter got the same tattoo and Vanessa Paradis has a t-shirt with the drawing.
On September 9, 2012, Johnny, Damien Echols, Bill Carter and some others got this Crow tattoo, a nod to the 1994 (the day the WM3 were convicted murder) movie The Crow about a man who is murdered, but comes back to life. It’s a theme Echols says he explores in his book, where the story of his life after death row unravels.
After they finished the second day on the media circuit (West Memphis Three premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival), a Toronto tattoo artist was called to Depp’s hotel room to ink matching black crows on the back of their right hands. Source
It shows a snake/lightning, which symbolizes the primordial energy in Native American Culture. Read more here.