Skeleton Tattoo Meaning, Design & Ideas

One of the most popular tattoo concepts is the use of skeletons, skulls, and other examples of macabre art. Although these tattoos and images may be scary to some, it is actually the exact opposite to those who decide on getting these particular pieces. Surprisingly enough, there are many meanings and symbolism behind tattoos such as these. Some people decide to get the whole skeleton as a tattoo, while others get skulls, animal skeletons and animal skulls are also popular.

The question everyone wonders when they see these tattoos is usually the same. What do they represent? What is the symbolism behind such morbid illustrations? Below are examples of other people’s skeleton tattoos as well as the meaning and symbolism behind them. Placements and different styles and designs will also be discussed.


When you see a tattoo of a skull or skeleton, you may wonder what drove that person to get that image for a tattoo. Skeleton tattoos are for those who are fans of horror, people with maybe a darker sense of humor and those who find beauty in death and the afterlife. Whatever your reasoning, there is no denying that the classic skeleton tattoo looks cool and adds a sense of character to the individual.


When you ask someone about their skeleton tattoo or even their grim reaper tattoo with the image of a skeleton wrapped in a cloak, they may say that the image itself helps protect them. How could an image such as this actually protect someone though? The protection may not be in the physical world but in the spirit world rather. Those who are superstitious or believe in paranormal activity get tattoos such as skeletons, skulls, and grim reapers.

This is because they believe the image itself scares off the evil demonic spirits that lurk at your bedside at night. Graphics such as these, remind the harmful spirits of the spirit world that this individual has a protector who is willing to fight for them.


Certain images of certain people bring out a hidden strength within themselves. Usually, this hidden power gives the individual confidence. The look of a skeleton or skull tattoo in a way, warns others to proceed with caution. This gives the tattoo enthusiast not only something to look at and remind themselves of who they are but reminds people around them that they are not one to be messed with. Who would want to mess with a guy who has pictures of death tattooed on themselves in the first place?


Sometimes when an individual has a tattoo that represents death and skeletons, it can mean that they have turned over a new rock. They may have regrets about what they did in a past life, past life meaning years prior. You must crawl before you walk, and fall before you can stand. These are learning lessons we remind ourselves of throughout our lifetimes.

Not everyone is perfect, we all make mistakes. Some people need a little inspiration when it comes to topics such as these. Those who have led a life full of regret but have now seemed to put all of that in the past for a better tomorrow will often get tattoos such as skeletons. This comes from the expression, skeletons in my closet. Cleaning out the skeletons helps create a brand-new you. Graphics of a skeleton can be a reminder to the individual to stay on the newly found path of righteousness and not go back to their ugly pasts.

Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead is a holiday that is celebrated all throughout Mexican culture. The Day of the Dead is much like the American Halloween. People dress up in costumes that resemble the dead such as skeletons, skulls, and whatever other spooky concept that may arise. This holiday celebrates the passing of all the people who have passed within the year. It is a holiday to remember these people and a sort of festival to welcome them into the spirit world.

Much like the tattoo idea of having a protector, people dress up and display pictures of skeletons and skulls all around to chase and scare away evil spirits. The ‘sugar skull’ is one that is seen almost everywhere around this time. So often in fact that people get the sugar skull as a tattoo, sometimes with a skeletal body to go along with it. This particular skeleton tattoo represents the loss of life or even the renewal and newborn life that lies ahead.


When you think of a skeleton tattoo, you probably think of the anatomy of humans. Although this is a popular tattoo idea to get the human skeleton as a tattoo, many people also get skeleton and skull images of animals as well. Before you get your skeleton tattoo, it is a good idea to come up with a design first.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to skeleton tattoos. A popular idea amongst tattoo enthusiasts is to get the skeleton in some sort of pose or stance. A skeleton down on his knees, praying to the sky, is an example. This shows that the skeleton is seeking forgiveness. This is a neat concept if you are in fact getting the tattoo to represent the regrets of your past life.

Skeleton Pirates

As we all know, pirates and skeletons mix together perfectly. Lovers of pirate tales and Johnny Depp movies often get tattoos pertaining to such. A skeleton dressed up as a pirate, maybe wielding a sword of some sort is a classic idea. Not only does this represent your love for pirates and skeletons, but it also shows you have a sense of adventure and are not one to shy away from the subject of death and all things macabre.

Color and Placement

Since skeletons are usually illustrated and tattooed in black ink, adding a little color to your piece can really add to the creativity of it. Sugar skulls in particular are graphics that are known for being wildly vibrant and colorful. It also depends on where on your body you decide to get this graphic. For those that have mostly black ink on their tattoos, throwing an image with a little color in the mix will brighten the theme. Skeleton tattoos are mostly done in areas where you can fit a lot of detail. The upper arm, forearm, legs, and chest are great places to consider on getting your skeleton tattoo.

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