Chris Brown set off much head-scratching when he debuted his most recent tattoo on Aug. 30, featuring what many people believed was an illustration of a beaten woman that looked suspiciously like his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna.
Brown's representatives dismissed the claims days ago, but now the 23-year-old singer's tattoo artist is speaking out too.
"I hate when people misinterpret what I do," said Peter Koskela, an experienced tattoo artist from Southern California who has tattooed stars like Brandy, Sean Kingston and Brown's girlfriend, Karrueche Tran. "It was really a blow to me to think that people would think so little of a person, that I would actually put a picture of a beaten woman on his neck. That was crazy to me, that he would come to me and say, 'Hey, I want Rihanna's face on me.'"
Brown's tattoo, which can be seen on the right side of the singer's neck, features a black and white drawing of a woman's face, with what appear to be scars across her cheek, and stitches over her mouth. According to his reps, the tattoo is based on a Mexican religious image called a "sugar skull," reported the Daily News.
"His tattoo is a sugar skull (associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead) and a MAC cosmetics design he saw," Brown's rep told ABC News. "It is not Rihanna or an abused woman, as erroneously reported."
The rep added that because the tattoo is peeling, it doesn't look exactly like the design that Brown had originally imagined. Koskela supported that claim, saying that when he saw a photograph of Brown in Las Vegas, the tattoo did look a little "rough around the edges."
"People thought it was a beat-up face, but it takes two weeks to heal because the neck is constantly moving," said Koskela. "I would never promote any kind of domestic violence like that. Even if he asked me to do it, I would have bounced right there. I don't do racist tattoos, I don't do gang-related tattoos, and I don't do anything hurtful. That is just the motto I live by. The other tattoo artists might, but I just don't."
Koskela also asserted that he has only met Brown with his current girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, 24, a Vietnamese model who has been dating Brown more than a year, and that the subject of Rihanna "never comes up at all."
"The dude is serious about his art," added Koskela, speaking of Brown. "When something inspires him, he wants it somewhere on his body, but he never said why he wanted to get that particular piece."
But despite Koskela's claims and Brown's ongoing relationship with Tran, rumors have continued to spread that Brown and Rihanna might have reunited, ever since a teary-eyed Rihanna appeared on "Oprah" and said she was still in love with him.
"I think he was the love of my life. He was the first love and I see that he loved me the same way. We were very young and very spontaneous. We ran free. We ran wild. We were falling in love going in at a really rapid pace and we forgot about ourselves as individuals," Rihanna told Oprah. "I still love him. We're very, very close friends. We built a trust again and that's it. We love each other and we probably always will."