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Shawn Mendes Has a Huge Tattoo Collection: Here’s a Breakdown of the Meanings Behind His Ink

Singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes is known for his music hits, including “Stitches,” “In My Blood,” and “Mercy,” but he also has interesting characteristics that only his biggest fans know about – starting with his tattoos.

The Canadian crooner doesn’t always flaunt his ink, but they are visible whenever he walks the red carpet for an event or performs onstage.

In a May 2018 interview with British GQ, Shawn explained the meaning behind several of his tattoos, when he just had five at the time. He first pointed to the elephant on his middle finger, which he got with his mom, Karen Mendes.

“This is an elephant that I got with my mom,” he explained. “I wanted to get a tattoo with her and I convinced her, and the only thing she would get [was] an elephant on her finger. So, we got this.”

Next, the “Señorita” artist motioned to the number “8” on another finger, which he jokingly recalled was a “very fast decision” with certain “influences involved.”

“There’s a meaning behind it,” he noted. “I was born in 1998, August 8 … Eight is a lucky number. So, anyways, can’t get rid of it. It’s a tattoo. Think before you get tattoos.” 

Afterward, Shawn showed his swallow design, which was inked on his right hand and signifies that “home isn’t a building, but it’s the people you love and the people you know as family and friends,” he said.

“Swallow is a sign of travelers,” the American Music Awards winner added. “Sailors used to get a swallow tattoo before they would voyage across the world and get another one [when] they came home. So, I thought, there’s been days when I’ve been in hotel rooms being like, ‘Where’s my home?’ … And then, I remembered that home is about people, it’s not about a building.”

As a worldwide famous artist, Shawn travels to different countries whenever he is on tour, which can take a toll on any person as they manage the stresses of this industry. However, he has been open about mental health, promoting meditation and other wellness techniques to his fans, while incorporating his feelings into his music.

After Shawn and ex-girlfriend Camila Cabello split in November 2021, the “Wonder” singer admitted to how heartbreak affected him right before he debuted his song “When You’re Gone,” in March 2022, which was seemingly about their breakup.

“A lot of the [things] that also, like, is resonating in the lyric for me is, like, ‘Oh f—k.’ You don’t realize, like, when you’re breaking up with someone — and you think it’s the right thing to [do] — you don’t realize all the s—t that comes after it,” he explained in an Instagram video that month before mentioning several instances of loneliness.

“Who do I call when I’m in a panic attack? Who do I call when I’m, like, f—king, on the edge?” Shawn added. “And I think that’s the reality that kind of hit me. ‘Oh, I’m on my own now.’ Now, I feel like, finally, I’m actually on my own, and I hate that, you know? That’s my reality.”

Despite dealing with different stresses, Shawn continues to pour his thoughts into new songs and could possibly even add more to his tattoo collection in time, depending on his motivation to seek new ink.

Scroll down to see some of Shawn’s tattoos and the meanings behind each design.