41 Halloween Tattoos For Spooky Season and Beyond
By Marianne Mychaskiw and Devon Abelman
Fall is in full swing and we know what that means: Candy is on the shelves; talk of costumes and plans are dominating the group chat. If you're following the right people, the tattoo artists on your feed have started posting sketches of cool, creepy Halloween tattoos they’re eager to do. Sure, the occasion may only happen once a year, but for those of us who may as well live in Halloween Town ( The Nightmare Before Christmas , anyone?), it's only appropriate to cement that love for spooky season in the form of a tattoo .
Luckily, Halloween or horror movie-inspired tattoos don't have to align with a specific technical style, and can be tailored to fit your own specific tastes. “There is such a wide range when it comes to horror tattoos and I think people are having more fun with them these days," says Jes Valentine , tattoo artist and owner of Haven Studio in Brooklyn. “The underlying theme usually includes imagery like spiderwebs, ghosts, or bats, but style-wise, tattoos that fall into the creepy category can range from scary, super-realistic designs, to cute, kawaii horror tattoos that are fun to look at.” Read on for tips on how to pick the Halloween tattoo for you and spooky inspiration.
- Melanie Lee is a tattoo artist at New York City's Long Time Tattoo
- Jes Valentine is a tattoo artist and the owner of Haven Studio in New York City
How to Pick a Halloween Tattoo
Halloween tattoo inspiration.
No matter what tattoo style suits your aesthetic best, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before getting a Halloween tattoo. "Can you see yourself wearing it 10 years from now? Is it offensive? Will it age well over time?" Valentine shares.
New York City-based tattoo artist Melanie Lee agrees, adding that if you're getting a Halloween tattoo based on a certain series or franchise, "be prepared for strangers to chat you up about it when you’re out and about." (Though, as anyone with visible tattoos knows, this is something you’ll probably need to be prepared for regardless of how recognizable your design is.)
From there you can start zeroing in on the vibe of your design, where you want to place it on your body, and finding an artist that aligns with the specific style you're hoping for. "Otherwise, it’s not much different from preparing for a regular tattoo," Lee says.
For Valentine, tattoos that fit the horror genre with a cute, colorful twist are among her favorite to do. "Although I can appreciate a full photo realistic sleeve of scenes from The Exorcist, I prefer to create something a little more playful and fun," she says, "like a grim reaper, except make it a bunny instead of a skeleton and make her robe pink."
Need some Halloween tattoo inspiration? Keep scrolling to see some of our favorite spooky body art, including, but not limited to, homages to our favorite horror movies, twists on classic imagery, and even spooky-yet-cute creatures.
Valentine often inks the main characters from the movies we want to watch and rewatch once spooky season comes around, like Jennifer’s Body and The Craft , on her clients. She typically gives the portraits her own technicolor style, complete with frames of flames, florals , and moon phases.
Glossy , another Brooklyn-based tattoo artist, created this realistic black-and-grey portrait of Elvira that would do the Mistress of the Dark proud with a trio of stars accenting her image. Portland-based tattoo artist Monica Amneus did a colorful tribute to Carrie 's most iconic scene.
Lee drew the first mummy-like tattoo in this trio of Halloween tattoos from a recurring childhood nightmare one of her clients had. Might as well turn your sleepless nights into something beautiful, right? That little guy in the middle is from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark , and a spell-binding siren straight from Lee's mind is beside him.
Adorned with '30s-inspired makeup true to the film's original era, this side profile of the Bride of Frankenstein from Valentine has brilliant green and purple draped blush and accurate stitch placement. The heart next to it is a tribute to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein . Valentine borrowed the green, purple, and blue color scheme typically associated with Frankenstein's monster into the piece, which is accented by bolts, stitches, well-placed florals, and a quote from the book.
Always a popular image come Halloween, Valentine gave her bats the cutest tattoo treatments. Lee, on the other hand, sourced her bat lady tattoo from vintage imagery.
Ghosts are welcome visitors with the artful designs from Brooklyn tattoo artists Sophie Bee and Vannessa J . In fact, the above ghost kitty, which looks like it was drawn on with crayon, was a popular option during the latter's flash day for Halloween 2022. Want a more spine-chilling option that keeps your ink fun? Opt for one of Bee's looks, both of which capture the holiday's spirit. (Pun intended.)
Upgrade your pumpkin tattoo with tricks inspired by these ones from Valentine and Eva Crawford , a tattoo artist based in New York City: glitter-like accents, a reference to The Office , and — of course — candy.
It's showtime. Valentine gave the Sandworm from Beetlejuice a traditional tattoo treatment. But for her Nightmare on Elm Street tattoo, she gave Freddie's iconic glove a modern pink color scheme and unexpected heart-shaped details. Valentine also topped off the gory image with a single strawberry for an oh-so-cute spin.
British tattoo artist Vicky Morgan created a whole new look for Friday the 13th ’s main character by merging the traditional goaltender mask and machete combo with a retro pin-up aesthetic.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is also another amazing source of Halloween tattoo inspo. California tattoo artist Sanae García created a kawaii-style rendition of Jack Skellington's dog Zero with skull flowers that would look perfect on their own too.
Tattoos based on this film series deserve its own shout-out. (After all, there are six movies to pull inspiration from.) Frame your favorite moments from Scream in Y2K-style barbed wire hearts or go the glittery emoji route. "One of my favorite horror movie tattoos to do is Ghostface from Scream ," Valentine says. “I’ll never get tired of tattooing him.”
Perhaps some dancing skeletons will suit your skin. Allow Valentine and Brooklyn tattoo artist Olivia (a.k.a. @cowgurl_bebop on Instagram) to provide just the anatomically correct art this season deserves.
Tarot cards can be shuffled and read all year long, but Halloween makes them particularly poignant. Add your favorite major arcana to your tattoo collection or create your own with characters from your go-to Halloween movie, like this shout-out to the best lovers to ever do it — Morticia and Gomez Addams — from California tattoo artist Ellen Mellon or the Hocus Pocus -inspired card by Anaheim-based tattoo artist Brooke Borden .
Double-headed stuffed animals, anyone? They're a specialty for not only Valentine but also Brooklyn tattoo artist Jessica ( @fantasmagorical_ on Instagram). Or consider giving your cat a costume for the occasion.
Spider designs might be some of the most versatile in the spooky category. You could cause a fright at your next Halloween party with a realistic spider tattoo or weave an impenetrable web on your skin with an ode to your bold, Y2K aestheic. You could go for something more delicate, like New York City-based tattoo artist Sophia Yoo 's shoulder web, or bring a spidery spin to a realistic set of eye tattoos with webbed lower lashes.
Placed just under her client's knee, tattoo artist Kate Schultz created a witch-finger design that perfectly frames this specific part of their body. We're also big fans of the talon-tipped hands Valentine inked with eyeballs, serpents, and sparkles. Lee also often swaps out petals for witchy fingers to create flowers straight out of a fantasy novel.
Read more about tattoo ideas:
- 19 of the Best Anime Tattoos to Feed Your Dweeb Heart
- 31 Floral Tattoos That Will Inspire You to Make an Appointment
- 31 Small Ear Tattoos Every Minimalist Will Love
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