Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history.
Horror movies have given an entirely new context to the traditional clown. The men and women who choose to ink these jesters onto their skin are definitely not mainstream in the tattoo world. Clowns hold a special symbolic value to those who bear them as art. Happy, sad, menacing, wicked, or evil clown tattoos always leave an impression. Learn about the meaning behind this intriguing tattoo, and discover creative ideas for your own unique design.
Common Clown Tattoo Varieties
What Do Clown Tattoos Mean?
Several different meanings can be associated with these tattoos. Meanings may depend on which variation is tattooed. Remember, though, that in the end, your tattoo symbolizes what you want it to. That being said, below are some meanings commonly associated with each type of clown tattoo.
- Happy Clown: Happiness, Laughter, Joy, Playfulness, Prankster
- Gangsta Clown: Life on the Streets, Criminal, Money, Structure
- Killer Clown: Incarceration, Murder, Evil, Despair
- Sad Clown: Unhappiness, Misery, Depression, Mistakes
Many men and women believe that these tattoos are used to symbolize the way we feel or the person that we are. For someone that likes to prank others, you may want to choose a happy clown. This can also represent your carefree approach to life. If you've made some mistakes and are trying to find your way, the sad clown may suit you. The killer clown and gangsta clowns are often chosen by inmates or those who disregard authority. These tattoo designs don't mean that you are a bad person—you may just like the wicked designs that are portrayed. However, you should know that you are likely to receive criticism for it.
Different text, elements, and symbols are often included with the clowns to give them different contexts. In most designs, only the face or head is portrayed. The text "Laugh Now, Cry Later," is often chosen to accompany the clowns—this motto represents that you are going to enjoy life and live for the moment. Including money, cigars, smoke, flames, fire, and weapons also accentuates different meanings within the clown design. Make sure that you take the time to view all the different pictures and ideas on this page so that you can get an idea of what is available and find some inspiration.
The History and Symbolism of Clown Tattoos
Complex individuals are often drawn to the clown tattoo since it can symbolize both good and evil at the same time—the evil clown tends to be the more popular choice, though. Designs often feature the clown alone by itself, but sometimes are accompanied by other symbols and elements that give a new context to its meaning. Whether you want your design in a half or full sleeve tattoo, the fun of your new tattoo will come from uniquely designing it with your chosen colors, size, symbols, and emotions.
Clown symbolism dates back centuries. Also known as jesters, clowns commonly entertained royal courts. Clowns would entertain their audiences by making them laugh. Often, they would do about anything to get a good laugh. Jesters are symbolized by their hats, which have points with bells on the ends. Even back then, clowns were known to wear colorful and vibrant attire. Although clowns seemed happy to perform among royalty, they often mocked the king, queen, and court. Even today, clowns represent mockery and jealousy.
The clown is actually a character that is known all around the world. Even now, clowns are still entertaining men and women all across the world. Clown performances are often enjoyed at carnivals and birthday parties. One known distinguished element of clowns is that they often paint their faces. Many people believe that clowns paint their faces as a way to symbolize their personality and character. Clowns can paint their face to portray that they're happy, sad, mad, or any other emotion they feel.
Since there are so many ways to customize your design, its outcome will depend entirely on what you are looking for. Whether happy, mad, sad, or evil, you will find that two of the most common tattoo variations are the gangster clown and the killer clown. In many cases, these are two variations of the same. Gangster designs often portray a clown with a weapon, such as a knife or gun. They may be portrayed with a cigar, money, or jewelry. Killer clowns can also be portrayed with the same symbols, as well as skulls and blood. These two are considered to be a favorite among gangs and inmates. You may want to consider this carefully if you are one that cares about how other people view you. The evil jester tattoo can also be classified in the same way.
Tattoos with happy clowns are often seen with a smile, with children, or entertaining. Sad clowns are often shown with tears or with a smirk on their face. If you are considering any of these, make sure you understand the connotations of each design.
Take Your Time Before Getting a Tattoo
There are some very important things that you need to remember before you get your tattoo. Make sure that you take the time to research your tattoo. You want to completely understand what your tattoo represents and stands for. You don't want to get a tattoo and find out later that it represents something different from what you first thought. Don't rush to get inked! Men and women that rush to get a tattoo usually end up with regrets about their choice. Don't make this mistake. Even with laser removal and cover-ups, all tattoos can't be fixed! As always, thanks for your visit.
James on October 08, 2015:
Clown tattoos mean that the person is a cop killer or is going to kill one
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I.W. McFarlane from Philadelphia on August 06, 2012:
I have to give credit where credit is due! What I am seeing here is definitely the work of Art. Although some of these tattoo designs are a bit scary, I must say, they are some fine art work.
Dianna Mendez on August 04, 2012:
This just validates the "clowns are scary" thoughts from many people. Interesting topic and didn't know that clowns were offered as tattoos.
Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on August 03, 2012:
Yeah just the mean clowns. lol
BeyondMax from Sydney, Australia on August 03, 2012:
This is just mind-blowing, really! I liked clowns when I was a kid but with the time they started giving me creeps LOL Everything in this world is turning upside down now...
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 02, 2012:
I agree with Frank, your tattoos are the best, These are very colorful, neat..
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on August 02, 2012:
I think these clown tattoos freak me out more than the ones showing skulls and death. Voting this Up and Interesting.
Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 02, 2012:
you know when you do these hubs you're second to no one.. Ive seen many but yours are tops!!! :) Frank
Alastar Packer from North Carolina on August 02, 2012:
Wicked evil, oh boy. Some of these are high artistry- some not so much. Hey Ricky, do you think folks who get this style realize they could be seriously spooking a fair amount of people who have coulrophobia- fear of clowns?