Tattoo Icons: What would Audrey Hepburn, Princess Di and Barack Obama look like if they were heavily tattooed?

The Seattle-based artist aims to break down the taboos of tattoos in the entertainment industry and show icons as real, inked up people

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The Independent Online

‘I’m going to get a tattoo’ is a phrase that strikes fear into the heart of almost every publicist and model agent going, such is the latent prejudice towards body art that exists in the entertainment industry.

But what would Hollywood’s most revered icons actually look like if they were heavily inked? And would it be such a bad thing?

Seattle-based artist Cheyenne Randall’s latest project aims to portray exactly that, by cleverly sketching and digitally enhancing traditional tattoo artwork onto a number of famous images.

From Audrey Hepburn’s intricately detailed chest and neck piece, Princess Diana’s full sleeves – and even a hipster Marlon Brando – no famous face has been left un-inked.

But, Cheyenne reiterated to The Independent, this isn’t a project about “tattooed celebrities”, a term he feels so strongly against, he asked for it not to be used in association with any of his work.

“This isn’t really about celebrities being tattooed,” he said. “It’s an ongoing art project where I take the recognisable icons and transform them into regular people, perhaps if they had taken another path in life or were from a parallel universe. It has more meaning to me than just making famous people look tattooed up. I respect the subject more than that.”

Furthermore, a message on his Facebook page reads:

“Also, this is a good look at how we, ordinary people, develop such strong, personal, one-sided relationships with our icons. I have seen people say this is disrespectful and that they are offended. Really? Because last I checked I didn't know Brad Pitt and Edward Norton gave a s**t one way or another and maybe just maybe they might think it's fun and harmless and imaginative.”

Brad Pitt’s long-term girlfriend Angelina Jolie, herself the possessor of a large collection of permanent body art, would be hard-pressed to disagree with him.

And so, perhaps, would the icons of the future. Attitudes towards tattoos are changing at a rapid pace, thanks in part to the large numbers of famous body art endorsers.

Once a taboo frowned upon by the entertainment industry, tattoos can be seen up and down the runways on the world’s biggest fashion models – like Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss – adorning the arms and chests of One Direction and Rihanna, and covering the torsos of footballers the Premiership over.

Even those you least expect have expressed their desires to go under the needle. This writer, for example, vividly recalls a conversation with Daniel Radcliffe on his promotional trail of Hammer Horror The Women in Black in London a few years back, during which the geekish former Harry Potter star mused over ideas for a big back piece he had planned (though, as far as we know, these plans are yet to be actualised).

And let's not forget this Question Time incident, either.

If it means we get to see more stunning images like those in the gallery above on the red carpet, we’re all for it.