As far as popular tattoos go, the skull tattoo reigns supreme.
Even the most delicate tattoo designs may have a little skull hiding in them.
Images of skulls and skeletons are fascinating to most humans.
Skull tattoos originate as far back as early sailor days.
Their direct connection to mortality makes them reflective and meaningful tattoos.
Being aware of death can be a celebration of life.
If you befriend death and see it as a natural part of life, you may end up living life to the fullest.
That’s one interpretation of the skull tattoo.
And for that one there are easily 100 more.
Skulls have meant different things to different people throughout the years.
Thinking of getting a skull tattoo?
You may want to choose the tattoo style and execution based on a mindset that resonates with you.
We’re going to take a deep dive into skull tattoos.
Skull Tattoo Designs
For years skulls have been some of the most popular choices in tattoo designs and have been depicted in a multitude of different styles, symbolizing major challenges that someone has had to overcome in their life.
When searching for the best skull tattoo designs, you’re going to come across a few commonalities.
While skull tattoos have a great deal of meaning on their own, specific themes are a way to enhance and personalize that meaning.
Indian Skull Tattoos
Indian skulls can vary from tribe to tribe, but overall the tattoo is one that conveys strength, legacy, and power to all who see it.
One of the most powerful meanings behind the Indian skull tattoo is the culture and tribe that the tattoo style is drawn from.
Indian skull tattoos are powerful and traditional symbols of strength, dignity, passion, and fierce pride.
This type of skull tattoos has several main themes in addition to cultural variations and ideas that present themselves across the world.
Popular Indian skull tattoos feature bright and colorful headdresses that are the breathtaking central figures of the tattoo.
These large feathers and powerful headdresses can represent the fierceness and intensity of the warrior in question as well as the cultural connection to a specific tribe, making these the perfect symbol of fight and strength.
The Indian skull tattoo is well suited to someone with a Native American background who wishes to honor their tribe’s traditions and ancestors.
This image may also have a darker meaning- the skull speaks to the struggle of Indigenous tribes, who have historically encountered violence while being forced out of their land.
Indian skull tattoos don’t need to be heavily colored to be powerful and striking.
Dark shading, negative space, powerful sketching, and sharp outlines make these tattoos especially powerful.
The Indian skull tattoo can mean powerful protection and signs of fierce defense and warriors against any threat or danger.
Some people choose their specific Indian skull tattoo to honor a specific ancestor or Indian warrior in their bloodline.
The Indian skull tattoo is a common American traditional tattoo motif and has a beautiful legacy of powerful American history and tattoo styles as well.
Skull & Dagger Tattoos
The vision of a dagger penetrated through a skull is so vivid, especially in the bold lines and color of American traditional tattoo style.
A traditional skull and dagger tattoo is courageous.
However it is represented, skull and dagger tattoos are undeniably a symbol of your bravery and knowledge.
Flower Skull Tattoos
Flower tattoos have deep meanings, and you can use those meanings to customize your skull tattoo symbolism.
The overarching symbolism of flowers and skull tattoos is beautiful and straightforward: they represent the dichotomy of life.
We have to take beauty with pain, love with loss, and somehow continue to be open to new beginnings after being hurt.
A flower skull tattoo can be a friendly reminder that, while there are shadowy things to contend with on earth, there’s also a great deal of beauty.
Rose & Skull Tattoos
One may believe a skull and rose tattoo to be a contradiction.
We look at the rose tattoo as a symbol of adoration and grace, whilst the skull tattoo is wrapped in the cycle of life and death.
When you combine the two, the result is a complex mix that accurately represents the struggle and balance of these things in our everyday lives.
They are not separate but entwined, and many skull and rose tattoos present this by having the roses grow in and between the skull.
Rose tattoos represent passion, beauty, and love.
Paired with a skull, they may represent a lost loved one or a lasting connection.
A rose and skull tattoo may also represent the concept of living your life to the fullest- doing everything you do with passion.
Peony & Skull Tattoos
Peony tattoos often represent good luck, strong partnerships, and abundance.
But they can also symbolize the fleeting nature of beauty.
A peony and skull tattoo means appreciating the good parts of life while you have them while knowing it’s all temporary.
Focus on the essential things, because you can’t take material items with you when you go.
Memento Mori Skull Tattoos
In your quest for the perfect skull tattoo, you may have come across the term “Memento Mori.”
We may see an influx of Memento Mori skull tattoos for the next few years, but the image is an enduring one.
Memento Mori has been a huge influence on the art world.
When you see a Memento Mori skull tattoo, it is a direct descendant of these works of art from centuries ago.
It is a Latin term that translates to “remember that you must die.”
Skull tattoos make excellent Memento Moris, often accompanied by the phrase itself.
As a tattoo, it is especially meaningful as the design dies with you.
Pairing your skull tattoo with the material items you crave would be a very strong Memento Mori tattoo.
Egyptian Skull Tattoos
Death is a large part of Ancient Egyptian culture.
Unlike some modern societies where it is taboo to talk about such things, death wove itself into the fabric of everyday Egyptian life.
Part of this accepting attitude toward death was the commonly held belief that there is an afterlife.
Having an Egyptian skull tattoo often indicates that your belief systems align with the Ancient Egyptian mindset: You believe that life goes on and are comfortable with the subject matter.
You may also be a history buff, fancying yourself a bit of an Indiana Jones type.
Galaxy Skull Tattoos
Galaxy tattoos often have a trippy or dreamlike appearance.
They can represent limitless potential, scientific discoveries, or unseen elements of the universe you may be curious about.
Galaxy skull tattoos are cool to look at, and sometimes that’s all there is to it.
This design may also represent a feeling of limitless potential, or a feeling that your soul extends beyond your body.
Grim Reaper Tattoos
Most skull tattoos are, at their heart, about accepting death as a part of life.
And there’s no better example of that than the Grim Reaper tattoo.
The Grim Reaper has been portrayed, in various degrees of terrifying, in so many tattoo designs.
The Grim Reaper’s skull is just as ubiquitous in the tattoo world as it is in pop culture.
A Grim Reaper tattoo is a bold choice, no matter the tattoo style.
The meaning behind choosing the Grim Reaper for your skull tattoo is simple.
You are bold, and unafraid to meet your maker.
You recognize death as a natural part of life.
Maybe you’re even a daredevil, doing death-defying stunts.
This is a tattoo design for people who don’t want to mince words.
It gets straight to the point.
For a Grim skull Reaper tattoo, black and grey or sepia-toned makes the most sense.
Some may choose pops of color, such as a blood-red or sickly yellow.
You’ll want a large surface area to work with so your tattoo artist can include every grisly detail.
Many people with Grim Reaper tattoos put the focus on his skeletal face.
This character being a skeleton just further drives home the symbolism.
Many Grim Reaper skull tattoos will include the Grim Reaper’s cloak but most tattoo artists will draw it slouching off of his face so the skull tattoo can have more detail.
This is where the tattoo design really comes to life in terms of customization.
Hourglass and Skull Tattoos
Many skull tattoos also include hourglass tattoos, because the Grim Reaper carries one with him.
Hourglasses must run out, just like human lives.
Jolly Roger Tattoos
Seen on flags, the skull and crossbones have become iconic imagery.
Today, we’ve forgotten the atrocious nature of pirate life.
We instead see swashbuckling heroes who live off the grid and wear cool clothes.
A skull and crossbones tattoo may be an intimidation tactic, but usually a playful one.
Jolly Roger tattoos suit someone a bit cheeky who won’t always behave the way you expect them to.
That, or someone who grew up watching the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
If you decide to have this brilliant design tattooed on you, you are sure to be a confident and self-assured person who relies only on yourself.
Pirate Skull Tattoos
Pirate skull tattoos are similar to Jolly Roger tattoos.
Someone with this design may think of themselves as a rebel.
The pirates we see in films and pop culture own their status as outcasts.
In fact, they revel in it.
If you’re someone who isn’t afraid to talk about death, who feels drawn in by macabre themes, you may feel like something of an outsider yourself.
A pirate skull tattoo can be both an intimidation tactic and a calling card.
It keeps the landlubbers out and attracts like-minded rogues.
Skull with Crown Tattoos
A tattoo that features a skull with a crown serves as a warning: If you get too full of yourself or fixated on success, your greed may destroy you.
It can also be a reminder that your status won’t mean anything after you die- so you’d better make your life mean something beyond it.
Kissing Couple Skull Tattoos
The kissing couple skull tattoo is a romantic design.
It can express your desire for a long term romance or celebrate the fact that you’ve already found it.
This tattoo design is excellent for couples and hopeless romantics alike.
Skull Tattoo Styles
Mixing meanings and themes of all kinds together, tattoo styles of the skull are plentiful.
Have you narrowed downs some ideas for your skull tattoo?
There are so many directions to go in, it’s hard to choose the right one.
Never fear, browse our favorite skull tattoo styles for a little ghoulish inspiration.
Black & Grey Skull Tattoos
Black and grey is a natural match for a skull tattoo design.
It’s probably more common to see skull tattoos in black and grey than any other style, but there’s always a way to make it your own.
Vocalist and self-professed “Queen of Halloween” Ash Costello has a black and grey skull tattoo on the back of her hand.
The skull sits at the center of a large ornate bow, over top of a script piece that reads “Dead.”
Black and grey skull tattoo designs can capture a somber tone or look really bad-ass, so it’s perfect for more maudlin and “tough” designs.
Black-work Skull Tattoos
Black-work skull tattoos have a less realistic, more illustrative feel than black and grey pieces.
The style is characterized by large sections of saturated black ink, which takes a skilled hand to pull off properly.
Black-work tattoos are fairly versatile and can be designed to suit your vibe.
If you want a tattoo that feels in the pop-art/cartoon/comic book vein, but don’t want anything too kitschy or colorful, black-work may be your perfect match.
Neo-traditional Skull Tattoos
Neo-traditional tattoos take the refined and original style of American traditional tattoos and modernize them with finer lines and brighter color palettes that spread throughout the entire tattoo.
Neo-traditional tattoos are characterized by smooth, highly saturated sections of color.
Neo-traditional skull tattoos often have a lot of personality.
Skull tattoos drawn in this style can feel menacing, playful, or some combination of the two.
With color palettes that feel organic and almost “antique” in nature, a Neo-traditional skull is a great idea if you want to play with color in a beautiful, elegant way.
The finer shading and detailing help to emphasize the delicate nature of the skull tattoo as well as bringing out the fierceness of the feathers and the fire.
Dot-work Skull Tattoos
If you’re looking for a skull piece that feels serious, but not in a doom and gloom way, consider a dot-work skull tattoo.
This style is inspired by the pen and ink art medium, and can have a very sophisticated look.
A dot-work piece is achieved by incorporating thousands of tiny dots into the design.
The dots will be spaced either looser or denser to create the illusion of depth and shadow.
Though it is a painstaking process, you can’t argue with the final results.
Dot-work skull tattoos are gorgeous, artistic, and unique.
Illustrative Skull Tattoos
As you can see, illustrative is a broad term in the tattoo world.
Illustrative tattoos have artistic flair.
They aren’t as realistic as portrait tattoos, but they’re not necessarily as stylized as a Neo-traditional piece.
The defining feature of this genre is that your skull tattoo will look like a drawing rather than a photo.
There aren’t necessarily any rules for how to draw a proper illustrative skull tattoo, so you and your tattooer can get creative.
This is an excellent style if you’re looking for a custom piece, especially based on graphic characters.
American Traditional Skull Tattoos
Proud and strong, the American traditional skull tattoo combines bold colors and rustic imagery.
American traditional is a common tattoo style that relies on bold outlining and thick coloring to create beautiful and striking American traditional styles that represent historic Americana symbols.
The American traditional skull tattoo is all about being bold, bad-ass, and rebellious.
The skull tattoo designs in American traditional tattooing say you’re going to live how you want to live, even if it’s reckless.
You exist outside of society’s conventions.
Consequently, traditional skull tattoos are easy to personalize.
A traditional skull tattoo acknowledges the closeness of life and death, as part of a cyclical nature.
This is a common part of life, and the traditional skull tattoo is a fantastic piece about reinvention.
Realistic Skull Tattoos
In the realistic tattoo style, every detail pops.
These realistic skull tattoos combine vivid, life-like details with artistic elements for a stunning final result.
Realistic Black & Grey Skull Tattoos
Black and grey is a classic look, and it’s a nice choice if you want your ink to be striking without looking flashy.
These realistic black and grey skull tattoos have impressive levels of depth, light, and shadow.
If you want your skull tattoo to turn heads, this is a reliable way to go.
Etching Skull Tattoos
As their name suggests, etching tattoos look like wood carvings.
Your tattoo artist will use black ink with unique shading patterns to give an “etched in” illusion to the skin.
This style often has a classic, retro feel despite being a modern tattoo technique.
An etching skull tattoo is a piece that will look timeless while standing out from the pack.
There’s an intensity to this style that will grab people’s attention from across the room.
Depending on the design, it could be a calling card or a “do not disturb” sign for the people who see it.
New School Skull Tattoos
The style may be called, “New School”, but it originally made its way onto the tattoo scene as early as the ’70s and has developed through time.
New School tattoos are characterized by thick, bold outlines and bright colors, which makes the skull tattoo design seem almost cartoon-like.
New school tattoo is fun. It’s just a great time.
Because of their cartoonish and exaggerated characteristics, it’s interesting to apply new school tattoo techniques to maudlin subject matter.
It takes the piss out of more serious works and would be an excellent tattoo idea if you want something to remind you not to take life so seriously.
That’s not to say that a new school tattoo can’t be stunning, it’s just that they’re always going to have a bit of a wink to them.
New School tattoos have a sense of movement to them, so they’re great for more dynamic concepts.
If you’re not one to shy away from bright colors and cartoony characters, a new school skull tattoo is bound to impress.
Graphic Skull Tattoos
Like illustrative, graphic is a broad term.
A graphic skull tattoo could really draw inspiration from anything.
What separates it from other styles is its often abstract designs and geometric elements.
Graphic tattoo designs often play with symmetry, which is well suited if you want your skull tattoo to have that ancient, occult-inspired vibe.
Geometric Skull Tattoos
Geometric skull tattoos have an exciting contrast between mathematical, symmetrical shapes and more organic lines.
The final result in a geometric tattoo design is modern without being trendy and has a high visual impact.
Trash Polka Skull Tattoos
If you want a highly graphic skull tattoo with just a splash of color, consider something in the Trash Polka tattoo style.
Trash polka is not a style every artist can pull off, so be sure to do your research before booking a consultation.
Trash polka uses blacks, grays, and reds in a kind of collage aesthetic.
It will often layer more realistic pieces with graphic elements to create a stunning overall effect.
A realistic skull done properly in the Trash Polka tattoo style is unforgettable.
Negative Space Skull Tattoos
Negative space art is kind of spooky, isn’t it?
It’s more about what isn’t there than what is.
To elaborate further to that point, a negative space tattoo will utilize blank spaces or “skin breaks” to create its overall image.
The technique has a kind of dark and mysterious feeling when executed well, and that potential for creepiness gives it the leg up when it comes to skull tattoo designs.
Get as playful or as morose as you like- the negative space tattoo is versatile.
Ornamental Skull Tattoos
You’re no shrinking violet.
You want a tattoo with major impact.
You want something that’s been decorated down to the last detail.
In an ornamental skull tattoo, every inch of the design is ornate.
Decorative elements are added to every blank space for a piece that feels fancy and flashy.
If you want a complex skull tattoo, that you can stare at all day and still find something new, consider an ornamental tattoo design.
Watercolor Skull Tattoos
Watercolor is a new, innovative technique that’s taking over the tattoo scene.
Once thought of as a passing fad, watercolor has proven that, when done properly, it can stand the test of time.
In a watercolor tattoo, your piece will either be without a black outline or have pieces that intentionally “bleed” over-top of one.
The technique is done with layers of color “washes” to achieve the same effect watercolor paintings have on paper.
Watercolor skull tattoos can feel poignant and ethereal, playful and graphic, or some combination of the two.
Many people enjoy mixing watercolor tattoo techniques with black and grey styles.
This is an especially effective approach to a watercolor skull tattoo, as it reflects the theme of the birth/death cycle.
Single Needle Skull Tattoos
Single needle pieces have a soft, pencil-drawn style to them.
Unlike most tattoos where liners and shades are used to create different effects, a single needle tattoo will use one fine needle throughout.
The resulting pieces have a soft, delicate feeling to them.
But that doesn’t mean your single needle skull tattoo can’t pack a powerful punch.
There are plenty of ghoulish effects that can be made with a single tattoo needle.
Sketchy Skull Tattoos
If you love the pencil-drawn effect of a single needle tattoo, but want something with more dynamic shading, sketchy tattoo designs are just that.
Sketch tattoos are made to look as if they were torn from the pages of an artist’s sketchbook.
Skull tattoos in the sketchy tattoo style can be done a variety of ways with plenty of artistic flair.
Contemporary Skull Tattoos
Contemporary is kind of a catch-all term.
There are so many artists doing so many innovative things, each blending the classic designs of the past into something new and exciting.
We love the mixed media feeling a contemporary skull tattoo can have.
If you’re looking to get a skull tattoo that feels fresh, unique, and artistic, ask your favorite tattooer if they’ve been experimenting with any new techniques.
Skull Tattoo Ideas
Have you been searching for some skull tattoo inspiration?
If you’re still unsure what direction you’d like to go with your skull design, here are a few highlights from our skull tattoo gallery.
- Small Skull Tattoos
Small skull tattoos are ghoulish enough for a little scare, but small enough for someone who only wants to show off their spooky side on the weekends.
As tattoos become more popular, many young people have started to collect small tattoos rather than committing to one large design.
This can be a meaningful way to collect memories as you go rather than blowing all your skin real estate in one appointment.
Paris Jackson and Rihanna have joined the micro skull tattoo club with dainty designs on their ankles.
There’s also G-Eazy, who has a simple skull tattoo with the initials T, B, & D to represent his 2017 album “The Beautiful and the Damned.”
G-Eazy’s small skull tattoo has been copied by many enthusiastic fans since he unveiled the design.
- Skull Tattoo Sleeve
There is something to be said for a large, epic design that flows.
When you design a monster tattoo from day one, you get a big bad-ass piece with high visual impact.
With a sleeve, you can add other elements to your skull tattoo that help communicate your message.
- Skull Tattoos For Women
Skull tattoos of any style are suited to any gender.
But sometimes, you want something that speaks to your feminine side.
These skull tattoos for women feature the macabre with a feminine touch.
- Horror Skull Tattoos
The best skull tattoos have a little taste of the macabre.
Why not get inspired by classic horror films with a little cinematic flair?
- Large Skull Tattoos
The bigger the skull tattoo, the more design elements you can play with.
Nothing shows off greater detail than a classic black and grey skull tattoo, and with a larger canvas, there’s more room to get creative.
Here you can incorporate more into the tattoo design and set the scene with more.
Both black and grey tattoos and large tattoo pieces are timeless classics and make the perfect combination.
When you make the commitment to a large skull tattoo, you and your artist can have all kinds of fun with the finer details.
- Cowboy Skull Tattoos
Arguably the most playful skull tattoo around, the cowboy skull tattoo takes the common skull image and spins it on its head.
Giving the skull a sharp, square bone structure and a big, toothy smile, our cowboy skull is finished off with the most important part: a cowboy hat.
Each tattoo design holds a personal meaning to the person bearing it and the cowboy skull tattoo symbolizes the overall importance of life and the way that we choose to live it.
Part of the cowboy life is living on the edge.
If you identify with the loner archetype, someone who lives by their own rules and has a nomadic lifestyle, you may take a shine to these cowboy skull tattoos.
Characterized by bold outlines and bright colors of similar tones, Old School tattoo style is traditional to western culture and perfectly suited to cowboy skull tattoos.
The tattoos are inspired by the Wild West and often feature additional elements such as lassos, roses, and cigars.
Combining classic grey and black with a pop of bright neon colors will make sure that your cowboy skull tattoo is as unique as you are.
- Tibetan Skull Tattoos
In traditional Tibetan spirituality, a “kapala,” or skull, is decorated and used in ritual work to hold offerings to deities.
A Tibetan skull tattoo can also symbolize your ascent to the other side, what you want to take with you to your next life on earth.
- Smoking Skull Tattoos
Smoking skull tattoos are cheeky.
They represent your earthly vices.
These designs can symbolize a devil-may-care attitude toward your lifestyle or a reminder that you’ve given up certain pleasures to live a longer life.
- Flaming Skull Tattoos
Flaming skull tattoos are a popular design for risk-takers and daredevils.
Do you prefer to live your life on fire?
This tattoo can broadcast it to the world.
- Viking Skull Tattoos
Viking tattoos are already epic.
Viking skull tattoos are metal.
This design can mean many things, depending on where you get your Viking lore.
The Viking skull may signify an interest in Norse mythology.
It can also mean you aspire to be a ruthless warrior like the (often exaggerated) Vikings in pop culture.
- Samurai Skull Tattoos
Samurais are proud warriors, ready to face death for what they believe in.
A person with a Samurai skull tattoo considers themself the same.
They know they’re mortal, but they plan to go down with a fight.
- Octopus Skull Tattoos
The octopus is a mysterious and brilliant creature.
Octopus tattoos are a symbol of creativity and intelligence.
The octopus tattoo combined with the skull tattoo is sometimes a nod to fantastic beasts from Lovecraftian tales, or it can speak to a desire for superior intellect and creativity.
- Half Skull Tattoos
The half skull tattoo is often a stylistic choice.
When the artist chooses to fill the other half, as with the skull and flower design below, it can speak to the opposing sides of life or someone with a multi-faceted personality.
- Ace of Spades Skull Tattoos
The Ace of Spades is a high-value card in many games, making it a symbol of luck.
When combined with the skull, it can have a couple of interpretations:
- The wearer is willing to take high risks for high rewards.
- It may be a reference to warfare.
The Vietnamese see the Ace of Spades as a symbol of death, so soldiers on the other side would paint the image on their helmets to strike fear into their enemies.
The Ace of Spades skull tattoo has one overarching message: don’t cross me.
- Gypsy Skull Tattoos
Gypsy skull tattoos usually speak to a mystical gypsy stereotype, someone who lives a transient lifestyle and reads fortunes.
This design may represent an interest in the occult and mysticism.
- Biomechanical Skull Tattoos
Man vs. Machine- it’s a theme that has fascinated humans for a long time.
We are fascinated by the idea of robotics.
Can machines replace us, and will they rebel?
Someone with a bio-mechanical skull tattoo is likely interested in these ideas.
- Simple Skull Tattoos
You don’t need a lot of flash to make a big impact.
These simple skull tattoos aren’t too fancy, but they certainly catch the eye.
There are a few things to consider with placement: How large do you envision your skull tattoo?
Do you plan on getting other tattoos in that same area, or do you already have some?
Do you want the whole world to see your macabre design, or only a select few?
Choose carefully, and your skull design will have the visual impact it deserves.
- Skull Chest Tattoos
A broad, flat area of skin is the perfect opportunity for a cool tattoo.
Chest pieces are a great way to show off a rad skull design.
- Skull Forearm Tattoos
If you aren’t afraid of a tattoo that can be tricky to cover, show off those pipes with a forearm design.
Forearm tattoos can be small and playful, but you’ve got enough broad, flat space for something big and badassy.
- Skull Tattoos on Thigh
- Skull Arm Tattoos
As you can see from our gallery, there’s more than one way to draw a skull.
You’ll want to research until you find an artist who can represent your aesthetic.
If you want a fun, vibrant, new school skull, for example, don’t go to the person specializing in creepy horror show designs.
Skull Tattoos in Pop Culture
When looking for your skull tattoo design, there are any number of wells to draw from.
The pop culture landscape is filled with skulls and has been for hundreds of years.
As long as we’re alive, we’ll be confronted by the idea of death.
The concept has been explored multiple times, yet there’s still more to say.
Where will your jumping-off point be?
A favorite band, a piece of classic literature, or maybe something nostalgic?
Let’s dive into a few highlights from pop culture skull history.
- Yorick’s Skull, Hamlet
For theater and classic lit nerds alike, this Shakespearean skull is iconic.
Next to Romeo and Juliet’s balcony, it’s probably the most well-known image from a Shakespeare play.
Many skull tattoos have been inspired by this memorable moment.
Most of them feature quotes from the scene as well.
Contrary to popular belief, the skull speech is not the “To Be or Not to Be” speech. That happens earlier.
By the time we are introduced to Yorick’s skull, Hamlet has been contemplating mortality for a while.
He has been considering getting revenge on Claudius, who murdered his father.
When Hamlet wanders through a graveyard, he comes across a skull.
He asks the worker if he knows who the skull belonged to, and finds out it is Yorick, a jester from his childhood.
This forces Hamlet to contemplate death in a nihilistic way.
He realizes that everyone, no matter how good or bad, faces the same fate.
It is this line of thinking that pushes Hamlet further toward his plan for revenge.
People who get a Yorick skull tattoo are likely either fans of the play, or fans of that nihilistic view.
Hopefully, they also learned from Hamlet that revenge plots don’t typically go as planned!
- Andy Warhol’s Skulls
Looking for some pop art inspiration for your skull tattoo?
Look no further than Andy Warhol.
In many of Warhol’s paintings, he confronts the idea of death.
He had a fascination with celebrity and the fickle nature of it, which can be a metaphor for life itself.
He wanted to explore every aspect of American culture, from soup cans to suicide.
Describing himself as a “deeply superficial person,” Warhol had a lot of interesting things to say about death.
First, that death “makes a lot of money, honey”, and secondly that seeing a disturbing image over and over again removes its effect.
As far as disturbing reminders of death, his skull paintings sit between Marilyn Monroe’s post mortem portrait and his plane crash painting.
Warhol bought a skull in Paris. It came from either a flea market or a taxidermist, and he began working with it almost immediately.
The idea behind his painting of the skull was that it was a portrait of everyone in the world.
His own version of Memento Mori.
If you get a Warhol inspired skull tattoo, you are asking the world to look at death, confront it, and make peace with it.
Or maybe you just wanted a more original reference to Warhol than a soup can.
- Grateful Dead Skull Tattoos
For many, the Grateful Dead go beyond the music and into a religious experience.
People are known to go to their concerts to take mind-expanding drugs like LSD and Magic Mushrooms.
Because of their name, skull imagery is a big part of the brand.
There are many people with Grateful Dead skull tattoos, a call to “dead heads” of all ages.
The name Grateful Dead came when the band was looking for an alternative to The Warlocks.
The group came across a phrase from an Egyptian prayer.
The “Grateful Dead” is someone who, after passing on, is grateful to the person who arranged their burial.
In ancient Egyptian culture, being buried properly was essential for entering the afterlife.
So the phrase has great significance. It suits the band’s message of love and good vibes.
There are many people who say they feel a great sense of community at the Dead’s concerts.
The two most famous images for the band are the “Steal Your Face” skull and the “Skull & Roses” artwork.
The Steal Your Face skull has a lightning bolt through it, which some say represents enlightenment.
The Skull and Roses tattoo represents remembering people fondly.
The sweetness of life and the inevitability of death.
- Misfits Skull Tattoos
Even if you’ve never heard a single Misfits song, you’ve likely seen this skull.
It was popular in the late 70’s when the band formed, and it is popular now.
Once a symbol of the ultimate punk rock rebellion, it is now embraced by angsty teens who shop at Hot Topic.
Still, for many, the skull has great significance.
Band members Danzig and Jerry Only have often fought over who owns the rights to the image.
The fact is, whoever came up with it was inspired by a completely separate piece of media.
“The Fiend” logo, as it is often called, was based on a 1930’s movie called The Crimson Ghost.
Though the band broke up in 1983, the last fight over the logo was in 2016.
With enough people getting Misfits skull tattoos, the symbol is pretty much public domain at this point.
- Jack Skellington Skull Tattoos
For the young at heart, a Jack Skellington design is a softer skull tattoo.
From Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack “The Pumpkin King” is looking for joy in all the wrong places.
Growing tired of his Halloween life, he tries his hand at Christmas.
A lot of Tim Burton’s work explores the idea of “otherness.”
Trying to navigate the normal world when you feel anything but.
There is some debate about the message behind this film.
But in the end, Jack finds that what he was looking for was in front of him all along.
A Jack Skellington skull tattoo can be a symbol of accepting yourself as you are.
And that being the best version of yourself doesn’t mean trying to be someone else.
- The Punisher Skull Tattoos
The Punisher skull can mean different things to different people.
In its original incarnation, the character Frank Castle appeared in a Spiderman comic book from the early 70’s.
After witnessing the murder of his family, Castle becomes a one-man vigilante justice machine.
Many subsequent Punisher franchises have popped up since then, exploring the character to new depths.
In recent years, Gerry Conway, the Punisher’s creator, has seen the symbol picked up by people he feels are not in line with the original character’s spirit.
American police officers, members of far-right groups, and conspiracy theorists have taken up The Punisher skull.
Conway has stated that The Punisher is an outlaw, someone who feels betrayed by the legal system.
He has tried to reclaim the symbol, promoting Punisher artwork from marginalized artists.
Having a Punisher skull tattoo is, in either case, an act of defiance.
Wearing one may spark a few interesting conversations.
- Mandalorian Skull Tattoos
The Mandalorian has had staggering success on the Disney+ platform.
So, naturally, there are a lot of tattoos dedicated to its mythology.
One of the symbols you’ll regularly see in the design of the show is the Mandalorian skull.
The Mandalorian skull represents the Mythosaur, a large animal that once dominated the world of Mandalore.
Driven to extinction by Mandalorian Taung and Mandalore The First, the Mythosaur skull became a symbol for the world’s rulers.
A Mandalorian skull could be a symbol of leadership or the desire for it.
Likely, it’s an homage or calling card to other fans of the franchise.
- Peaky Blinders Skull Tattoos
Peaky Blinders is a historical fiction account of an English street gang that went by the same name.
Unlike other street gangs of the era, the Peaky Blinders put great emphasis on having an aesthetic.
A Peaky Blinders skull tattoo is a clever nod to the show’s juxtaposition between dapper fashion and gruesome content.
- Joker Skull Tattoos
The Joker embodies the spirit behind our Memento Mori’s.
In some ways, The Joker’s MO is to have us confront the shadowy themes we’d rather ignore.
For these reasons, a Joker skull tattoo is perfect.
That, and it acknowledges the destructive nature of this unhinged character.
If you want to get a Joker tattoo but don’t want anything too literal, this may be the perfect design for you.
Always a popular object, the skull has become the focus of numerous tattoo designs.
Whatever the placement or theme, there is something untouchable and breathtaking about skull tattoos, with their carved-out features, hollowness, and omnipotence.
Skull tattoos remind us that everything is temporary.
It helps us to appreciate the good moments as much as we can.
It would be an interesting idea to get a skull tattoo as part of a celebration of one of your accomplishments or simply celebrate life.
In this sense, a skull tattoo may suit someone with strong beliefs.