A Deep Dive Into Dakota Johnson's Many Tattoos

When Dakota Johnson's father, Don Johnson, warned his daughter that he would disown her if she ever got a tattoo, she schemed a clever workaround which she implemented with her mom, Melanie Griffith. As the "Fifty Shades of Grey" actor explained on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," her first tattoo was a bold line of text on her left inner bicep that reads "acta, non verba," which means "actions, not words" in Latin. The phrase was something Dakota's dad often said to her, which she hoped would help smooth things over post-tattoo.

Whether Don relaxed his opinion on ink or Dakota kept getting them regardless, the "Suspiria" actor would go on to get upwards of 12 more tattoos. She has a subtle tattoo on the back of her right ear, but fans haven't figured out what it's supposed to be, per Page Six. The tiny image is finely detailed, and these images become harder to see as the ink naturally spreads under the skin with age. If she had initially gotten this tattoo in thinner lines, that could indicate this tattoo is an older one of Dakota's. 

Dakota reportedly got another family-inspired tattoo with an image of three flying birds on her right shoulder. This is thought to be a reference to her grandmother, Tippi Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's iconic 1963 film "The Birds."

Dakota Johnson has several arm and wrist tattoos

With the exception of her first tattoo in Latin, most of Dakota Johnson's arm tattoos are minimalist and fine-line pieces, which makes their appearance subtle and almost unnoticeable from far away. One particularly soft tattoo is the word "tender" in graceful cursive just below her right elbow. In a 2017 Vogue cover story, Johnson revealed that the tattoo, done by premiere Los Angeles artist Dr. Woo, is her favorite word. 

Dr. Woo also did Johnson's small, withering flower tattoo in the same fine-line style. The tattoo artist posted the flower on their Instagram and is stylized after 20th-century Austrian painter Egon Schiele. In the caption, Dr. Woo included a quote, "it's a lil f***ed up, but it's still a flower, like me," which might be a reference to something Johnson said herself about the decision to get this particular tattoo. 

Johnson also has the phrase "all seven" tattooed on her left lower forearm in a thicker script font, though we're unsure what significance the quote holds for the actor. She has another tattoo of the word "heaven" in what appears to be small American traditional lettering on the side of her left wrist as well.

Many of her tattoos center around romantic and familial love

If there was any theme to Dakota Johnson's growing tattoo collection, love would not be an unreasonable guess. The actor has several references to familial and romantic love, and in the case of her neck tattoo, the concept of love itself. Johnson has the Spanish word for love, "amor," tattooed at the nape of her neck. The word is in a decorative, angular font and tucked just underneath the wispy edge of her hairline. 

Johnson also has an infinity symbol with two small, side-by-side x's worked into the continuous line below her left elbow. She got this minimalistic tattoo with her longtime partner, Chris Martin of Coldplay, who has the symbol tattooed in the same location.

The actor also got a tribute to familial love with a matching tattoo with her half-sister, Stella Banderas. In her 2017 Vogue cover story, Johnson explained that the small piece on her left wrist — also done by her go-to artist, Dr. Woo — is a reference to Aldous Huxley's book "Island."

One lower body tattoo affected filming for this revealing feature film

There's one tattoo of Dakota Johnson's that has never been revealed to the public, and that's an undisclosed tattoo on her buttock. "Fifty Shades of Grey" cinematographer Seamus McGarvey told The New York Times that the production team had to cast a "butt double" for Johnson because of her tattoo. "I had the pleasure of casting a non-tattooed bottom," McGarvey quipped, adding that the process was "surreal."

Johnson has a far less discreet tattoo on the top of her right foot, featuring the phrase "Look At The Moon" in a bold, serif font surrounded by small stars. While the actor has never clarified its exact meaning, the phrase is often used as a reference to people who tend to be more emotional, aspirational, or connected to the power and beauty of nature. 

The actor has a much smaller tattoo on her inner left heel, featuring the name "Brad" in all capital letters in a tiny, simple font. It's unclear who Brad is, though we wonder if it has some connection to Gwyneth Paltrow's second husband, Brad Falchuk. Gwyneth Paltrow was formerly married and has two children with Johnson's beau, Chris Martin. Paltrow and Johnson have been vocal about their unlikely friendship, with Paltrow even posting a photo of her and her ex's new partner holding hands on her Instagram Story in November 2023, per People.

Some of Dakota Johnson's tattoos are stick and poke

Dakota Johnson's go-to tattoo artist, Los Angeles-based Dr. Woo, creates their signature, finely detailed pieces using a tattoo machine. However, Johnson has proved she's not opposed to a good, old-fashioned stick-and-poke tattoo. These rudimentary tattoos are done with a single needle and ink, slowly creating an image one "poke" at a time. Giving and receiving non-professional stick and pokes has become trendy in recent years, though we should note this can increase risk of infection and poor healing. 

Johnson admitted to getting a stick-and-poke tattoo kit during the COVID-19 quarantine in 2020 while on an episode of "Stir Crazy with Josh Horowitz." She showed off a small stick-and-poke tattoo just above her right elbow, on the back of her arm that reads, "I love you." Page Six hypothesizes the tattoo references Chris Martin. And since the tattoo's placement would make it impossible for Johnson to do it herself, it's possible that whoever the piece is referencing is also the one who gave the tattoo. 

The actor did give a stick-and-poke tattoo to her "The Lost Daughter" co-star, Olivia Colman, who shared her first and only ink on an episode of "The Graham Norton Show." Johnson tattooed the initials "R I K E" on Colman's left wrist, which the British actor said are the initials of her closest loved ones.