Every Post Malone face tattoo explained

Seemingly overnight, Post Malone became a music and pop culture sensation. Since the release of his 2016 debut album, Stoney, the New York singer and rapper has gone on to have two number one records — 2018's Beerbongs & Bentleys and 2019's Hollywood's Bleeding (the latter of which had the biggest streaming week of any album in 2019, according to Billboard). As of this writing, the musician has scored six Grammy nominations, boasts close to 19 million followers on Instagram, and has earned an impressive net worth of $14 million.

There is one particular aspect of Post Malone that gets perhaps even more attention than his music, however, and that's his tattoos. More specifically, his face tattoos. Since getting his first tiny facial marking back in 2017, the young artist has quickly grown his collection, committing to the eyebrow-raising aesthetic wholeheartedly. 

But what does it all mean? Here's the story behind all of Post Malone's face tattoos, as well as the surprising impact they've had on the world around him. 

Post Malone got his first tattoo because of Justin Bieber

In October 2018, Post Malone stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to talk about his roots, both musical and tattoo-related. "My mom loves them," he joked during his interview with the titular host, his voice full of sarcasm. Malone went on to reveal that it was actually Justin Bieber who inspired him to get his first tattoo. 

"We were working on Stoney and then we had a tattoo artist come through and then I was just like, 'You know what? Justin Bieber's got some tats. And, I love you, but I know I'm way tougher than you,'" he reasoned, admitting he had been scared to get one until then. "It's a pretty s**tty tattoo," Malone admitted, pointing to his left forearm and laughing. "[I got] a Playboy bunny tattoo for my first tattoo — I don't know why."

Not only did Bieber inspire it, he also nearly ruined it. "We played basketball, like, two days later and he knocked the whole thing off," Malone recalled. "It was just blood dripping down my hand, and it kind of looks like my tattoo got dropped in lava, but I like the story anyways!" 

'Stay Away' is all about the music

In December 2017, Post Malone got his first substantial face tattoo to complement the already existing barbed wire inked around his hairline and the tiny smiley face tat underneath his right eye.

Opting to ink the words "Stay Away" on top of his right eyebrow, Malone had fans convinced that he was paying tribute to Lil Peep, who had died of an accidental overdose the month before. The late rapper was known for his own face tattoos, including a similarly-styled cursive tattoo in the same spot. Given the fact that Malone had already paid tribute to his friend by getting a portrait of Peep inked on his arm, many believed he was just continuing to pay his respects. 

Unfortunately, those theories missed the mark. The "Better Now" singer set the record straight to a TMZ paparazzo, joking, "I kind of just wanted, I don't know, to piss my mom off. I know she's really upset, but I love you so much, mama, you're the best." He added, "I'm sorry." Pressed to reveal the real inspiration behind "Stay Away," Malone finally admitted, "It's f**king song lyrics." It turns out the tattoo was indeed a tribute ... to the Nirvana song of the same name. It was also a reminder to live in the moment. Malone continued, "I figured, how ignorant could I be and just f**king tattoo my face, you know what I mean? And just have fun. You only live once, man."

'Always Tired' has nothing to do with insomnia

Because one script tattoo on his face simply wasn't enough, Post Malone followed up "Stay Away" with two more massive face tattoos in June 2018: the word "Always" under his right eye and the word "Tired" under his left.

Speaking about his inspiration with Capital XTRA, the "Circles" hitmaker quipped, "Anything to piss my mom off ... I got a face for radio anyways, so why not?" Going on to reveal that the choice words actually had nothing to do with insomnia, but rather with aesthetics, he explained, "I tried to do something that's relatively the same length of letters." Malone added with a laugh, "I guess 'always' is more letters than 'tired,' but I was tired so I didn't f**king realize."

Interestingly, it seems the ink is also a nod to his work ethic: In Malone's own words, "Always tired; always grinding; always working." 

The sword represents a deep passion

Post Malone has never done anything by the books, so it's not all that surprising to learn that he had a rather strange hobby growing up: sword collecting. When asked about the tattoo going down the right side of his face, Malone told Capital XTRA that it's not merely a dagger, but rather a very specific sword that plays into his love of all things Medieval. Revealing that the design is meant to be William Wallace's famed Claymore, he gushed, "I like swords and s**t ... Whenever I was a little kid, I was like 12, I had a collection of swords and I loved it."

That passion hasn't faded any with age. As it turns out, Malone is still coveting and purchasing new pieces regularly. "I just bought a dope-a** katana from Cold Steel and I like to [use it to] cut watermelons in half in my backyard," he told the outlet, adding, "That s**t is awesome. I love playing with swords!"

Post Malone was etched in Japan

In July 2018, Post Malone decided to upset his mom once more and got another major addition to his face tattoo collection. This time around, he took time out from a trip to Japan to visit Three Tides Tattoo in Tokyo, where he opted for a massive piece on his left temple. Done by artist Ganji, the finished design looked like an abstract take on traditional Japanese waves and has remained one of Malone's more subtle works. 

Three Tides Tattoo posted a video of the moment to Instagram, showing Malone lying down, covering his eyes with a tissue, before asking "Done?" He then got up and, upon seeing himself in the mirror for the first time, exclaimed, "Woah! That's sick, that's f**king sick!" Ganji also shared a photo of the fresh ink on his own Instagram page, which he captioned with two black heart emojis. He also revealed that while Malone was in the shop, he got a second tattoo: a Japanese demon on his right arm. You only live once, right?

Will Post Malone's face tattoo game ever slow down?

If you think Post Malone is running out of real estate on his face, think again. When asked by Capital XTRA in July 2018 if he had any plans to keep getting his mug tattooed, he didn't hesitate in declaring, "Oh, hell yeah! Oh, it's coming!" After all, this is the man who's gone from having one tiny, barely visible smiley face inked under his right eye in September 2017 to sporting a massive collection of 10 face tattoos and counting in just two years. 

To recap: By October 2019, Malone had adorned his face with barbed wire along his forehead, the sword down his right cheek, the Japanese waves on his left temple, "Stay Away" above his right eyebrow, "Always" under his right eye, and "Tired" under his left eye, as well as a tiny Playboy bunny and mini heart to accompany the original smiley under his eye. In November 2018, Malone added an Ace of Spades playing card on top of a Queen of Hearts to his forehead, just above the infamous "Stay Away" script. 

So, what could possibly be next? When Capital XTRA tried to find out what his next designs would be, Malone confessed, "I don't know. I just kind of freeball it." 

Posty was accused of killing the pop star

Justin Bieber and Post Malone are not just good friends, they're also huge influences on each other's lives ... and tattoo collections. Whereas the Biebs inspired Malone to get his very first tattoo, the latter was cited as the inspiration behind Bieber's own face tattoo in November 2018. When the Canadian pop star got a barely visible line of text tattooed above his left eyebrow, PopDust couldn't resist publishing an op-ed titled Justin Bieber Got a Face Tattoo: How Post Malone Killed the Pop Star.

The outlet jokingly claimed, "If we don't rally together soon, face tattoos and all that come with them will only become more and more pervasive." However, as celebrity tattooer Bang Bang, who executed Bieber's face tattoo, pointed out to Page Six, unlike Malone's huge designs, Bieber's ink is "really thin and delicate." What's more? It wasn't done just for fun. Instead, it holds a sweet meaning, as Bang Bang confirmed it's one half of a secret couple's tattoo the singer got with now-wife Hailey Baldwin.  

You can copy Post Malone's face tattoos, but be warned...

Post Malone's face tattoos have become such a major part of his identity that temporary versions of his facial ink are now a popular merch item. The singer sells his own version, dubbed the Hollywood's Bleeding Face Tattoo Pack, for $15 at his online store. Meanwhile, countless unlicensed versions have also appeared across Amazon. Before you pick some up, however, be warned that it's not easy being Post Malone.

Vice writer Ryan Bassil got decked out in Malone's face tattoos for a day and, as he soon discovered, it's not ideal. "Post's [design] selection feels like it's 180 degrees more overboard than it needs to be," Bassil wrote, noting how he learned that "it is not fun wearing Post Malone face tattoos out in public."

"Unsurprisingly, people in the street look at you in ways they previously wouldn't have," Bassil explained, adding, "Really, besides the subjective aesthetic value, getting these kinds of tattoos boils down to whether or not you're into feeling [ostracized]."

Tattoo artists are working against him

Whatever your reaction to Post Malone's face tattoos may be, it's hard to argue with the fact that his growing collection is helping to normalize the idea of an inked face. There are countless comments on social media praising his designs. "Post Malone is like the ONLY guy I fully support who has face tattoos," one person tweeted, while another Twitter user wrote, "Rappers [with] face tattoos are overrated and Post Malone is the only one who can pull it off." 

However, this complimentary mentality is exactly what some tattooers are now starting to rally against. Kevin Paul, for example, is a tattoo artist who regrets getting a tattoo on his face because, as he told BBC News, it can "have a massive impact" on your life. Singling out Malone, he warned, "Celebrities like the US rapper Post Malone are getting face tattoos now. Which is all right for them. They're millionaires and pop stars." In November 2019, the British Tattoo Artist Federation even went so far as to start a petition to make face tattoos illegal for people under 21.  

Post Malone's clean face went viral

Close your eyes and try to imagine Post Malone without any face tattoos. Having a hard time? Not to worry: YouTuber Mitchell Wiggs gave the artist a Photoshop Makeover so you don't have to imagine. Putting his Photoshop skills to the test, Wiggs filmed himself slowly removing all of Malone's visible tattoos one by one until he was left with a clean-cut version of the Grammy nominee. The resulting image was so jarring and unexpected that the video quickly went viral, amassing close to 16 million views by November 2019. 

Viewers were divided by the result, however. While some love Malone just the way he is — "Why would [you] change him when he's already perfect the way he is?" one fan asked in the comments section — others were thoroughly impressed by the transformation. "He straight up looked like a Disney prince in the end," another person wrote, while another quipped, "You only did this cause he's not around, not around. But you made him look better now, better now."

You keep doing you, Posty.