Fall is in full swing and we know what that means — Halloween candy is on the shelves, talk of costumes and plans are dominating the group chat, and if you’re following the right people, the tattoo artists on your feed have started posting sketches of the cool, creepy designs they’re eager to do in time for Halloween. 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. “I love that 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, New York. “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.” 

As an artist who has created multiple tattoos in the creepy genre and a horror movie aficionado herself, Valentine certainly knows what to consider when drawing up a Halloween-inspired tattoo that feels appropriate long after October 31st has passed. “When getting a Halloween-inspired tattoo, I think people should keep in mind the same aspects they would when getting any tattoo,” she says. “Can they see themselves wearing it ten years from now? Is it something they may get judged for, and do they care if they get judged for it? Is it offensive? Will it age well over time?”

How to Pick a Halloween Tattoo

Tattoos are permanent and removal can be costly and painful, so ensuring you get a design that you’ll love for years to come is extremely key. Start by determining what you’d like to get done, your ideal placement on your body, and your own style in tattoos, then find an artist that aligns with your specific aesthetic. 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 — like a grim reaper, except make it a bunny instead of a skeleton and make her robe pink,” she says. “That’s what’s so nice about horror tattoos. The themes stay the same, but the execution takes many forms.”

From the quintessential ghost tattoo to Hocus Pocus ink that would do the Sanderson sisters proud, read on for more Halloween tattoo ideas, guaranteed to solidify spooky season as a year-round occasion.

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