by Tori Jones
Clown Tattoos

Today, we are going to dive headfirst, unflinchingly, into the brightly colored, laughter-infused world of clown tattoos. Oh, did I just hear a gasp? Hold your prejudices, my friends, and prepare to be enlightened. Did you know that clown tattoos are steeped in tradition, symbolism, and surprise? Yes, the painted faces we often associate with circuses and childhood birthday parties are actually imbued with layers of depth and meaning in the world of tattoos. Intrigued? Well, you should be.

Clown Tattoos
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Throughout this post, we’re going to unmask these vivid emblems of joy, tragedy, and resilience, giving you a deep-dive into their historical roots and their multifaceted interpretations across different cultures. From their origin in the comedic performances of ancient Greece to their modern-day renditions on the skin of daredevils and dreamers alike, clown tattoos embody a powerful spectrum of human emotions and experiences.

You’re in for an ink-filled journey, folks, where we’ll also showcase some of the most inventive clown tattoo designs you’ve ever laid eyes on. Whether you’re here to draw inspiration for your next tattoo, or just to feed your curiosity about this compelling genre of body art, you’re at the right place.

Clown Tattoos

Clown Tattoos
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Did you know that our colorful friends, the clowns, can be traced back to medieval jesters who performed to keep their royal audiences entertained? Over the centuries, the image of the clown has evolved, much like the art of tattooing itself.

Clown tattoos and their interpretations can indeed vary widely across different cultures. The clown, as a symbol, carries a lot of weight due to its historical and cultural significance, and it can manifest differently depending on the context. Here’s a look at how some cultures perceive clown tattoos:

Western Culture: In the West, clowns are often associated with humor, lightheartedness, and fun, owing to their historical role as entertainers in circuses and fairs. However, with movies and books portraying clowns in a darker light (like Stephen King’s ‘It’ or Batman’s Joker), the clown imagery has taken on more sinister connotations. Clown tattoos in this context often represent duality – the ability to portray happiness while possibly concealing sadness or fear.

Mexican Culture: In Mexico, the clown has a different connotation. Payasos (clowns) are quite revered, as they bring joy and laughter. Also, with the popular theme of “Day of the Dead” or Dia De Los Muertos, clown imagery mixed with sugar skull designs is quite common in tattoos, symbolizing remembrance, celebration of life, and respect for the deceased.

Japanese Culture: Japan has its own rich history of clowns and jesters. Known as Taikomochi (akin to a court jester), these figures were entertainers and jesters in samurai households. More modern representations like anime and manga clown characters can symbolize various things based on their role in the story, from humor and trickery to darkness and fear.

Native American Culture: The Hopi Tribe in North America has a tradition of Koshari (or Kachina) clowns. These clowns play an important societal role, using humor to teach lessons and critique societal norms. A Koshari clown tattoo may be seen as a symbol of wisdom, humor, and social commentary.

Today, clown tattoos are a popular choice for many, and they allow us to express emotions in their most raw and exaggerated form. They’re a canvas for your emotions, whether joyful, sorrowful, or something in between. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Main Themes in Clown Tattoos

When it comes to clown tattoos, there’s a wealth of emotion and symbolism to explore. For those with a flair for the dramatic and flamboyant, clown tattoos offer the perfect medium to express your unique self. Whether you want to wear your resilience proudly or announce your playful ‘class clown’ nature to the world, clown tattoos are as bold and unique as you are. There’s a plethora of different themes when it comes to clown tattoos, each having its unique charm and symbolism. Here are a few more that you might find interesting:

  1. Traditional Circus Clown Tattoos: These designs often depict classic, happy clowns
  2. Sad Clown Tattoos: Also known as Pierrot clowns, these tattoos represent a more melancholic side of life.
  3. Laugh Now, Cry Later Tattoos: These designs typically feature two clown faces, one happy and one sad, symbolizing the dual nature of life.
  4. Clown Girl Tattoos: This theme puts a feminine twist on the clown motif. It often represents independence, strength, and a hint of mystery.
  5. Anime and Manga Clown Tattoos: Japanese pop culture has given us several memorable clown characters, and these too find a place in the tattoo world.
  6. Day of the Dead Clown Tattoos: A unique crossover between Mexican Dia De Los Muertos art and clown imagery, these designs often feature skulls painted with bright clown makeup.
  7. Gangster Clown Tattoos: They can symbolize rebellion, toughness, or resilience.

Let’s dive into some popular themes that frequently show up in clown tattoos.

Sad/Crying Clown Tattoos

Sad/Crying Clown Tattoos
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Why would someone choose to get a sad clown tattoo? Good question! Remember the guy who was always the life of the party, cracking jokes, and making everyone laugh? Once, he told me that beneath the smiles, he was grappling with deep, complex emotions. He chose a sad clown tattoo, a brightly colored clown with tears streaming down its cheeks, to give a voice to those emotions.

In many cultures, openly expressing sadness or depression, especially for men, can be seen as a weakness. But a sad clown tattoo? That’s a badge of honor, signifying the courage to admit that you have vulnerable moments. It’s a powerful statement that says, “Yes, I feel blue sometimes, but that won’t bring me down.” At the same time, it can also be a symbol of defiance and toughness, a reminder that you can weather the storm, no matter what.

Payasa Clown Tattoos

Payasa Clown Tattoo
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Payasa tattoos, derived from Mexican clown imagery, are about resilience and toughness. These designs often incorporate text or symbols that speak to a gangster lifestyle, representing a lived reality rather than just an aesthetic choice. I first learned about this style while exploring tattoo art from rough neighborhoods in Mexico.

The Payasa often suggests the wearer is playing life’s dangerous games, not out of choice but necessity. Alongside the clown image, you might find graffiti-style lettering with phrases like “No More Tears” or “Hard Life”, hinting at the daily struggle of living in a rough neighborhood. This tattoo style truly resonates with those who wear a metaphorical clown face to cope with the harsh realities of life.

Skull Clown Tattoos

Skull Clown Tattoo
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Skull clown tattoos are eerie yet intriguing. Typically, these feature a grinning skull wearing a jester’s hat, a stark reminder of life’s uncertainties and eventual end. Originally a prison tattoo, it’s now a compelling way to express one’s experiences with life’s risks.

A dear friend of mine sports a skull clown tattoo paired with the phrase ‘Life’s a joke.’ It’s her unique way of acknowledging the hurdles she has overcome and continues to face. There’s an acknowledgment of mortality, a dash of dark aesthetics, and a bold declaration of joy even in tough times.

Happy Clown Tattoos

Happy Clown Tattoo
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Clowns, at their core, are symbols of joy and merriment, and happy clown tattoos encapsulate this spirit beautifully. These designs are perfect for the pranksters among us, those with a playful spirit, and those who can light up any room with their laughter.

I’ve also seen fascinating dual tattoos, featuring both a sad and happy clown, a reflection of life’s ups and downs. But a solitary happy clown is a symbol of unadulterated joy, a conversation piece that tells the world about your sunny disposition.

Jester Clown Tattoos

Jester Clown Tattoos
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Originating from the jesters of medieval times, jester clown tattoos can reflect the wearer’s mischievous or kind-hearted nature. One of my clients chose a naughty jester design to represent his darker side and the personal demons he’s battling. Conversely, a ‘nice’ jester tattoo could symbolize your playful, jovial nature. In essence, getting a jester clown tattoo is a nod to the historical roots of clowns.

Krusty the Clown Tattoos

Krusty the Clown Tattoo
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If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you’ll recognize Krusty the Clown. With his rowdy and cynical persona, this character embodies life’s darker pleasures and harsh realities. Don’t be fooled, though – the meaning of this tattoo is as layered as the character himself.

A fellow tattooist once told me about a client who chose a Krusty tattoo to symbolize resilience. He saw Krusty as a survivor, a character who, despite his flaws and mistakes, never gives up. And isn’t that a beautiful message to wear on your skin?

Clown tattoos, like life, are filled with a spectrum of emotions and experiences. They’re deeply personal, deeply expressive, and deeply empowering. So, whether you’re feeling blue or brimming with joy, remember that a clown tattoo might just be the perfect canvas for your story.

Evil Clown Tattoos

Evil Clown Tattoo
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Let’s start our journey with a thrilling twist – the evil clown tattoos. Now, you might be wondering, “Why evil?” Well, the idea of an evil clown tattoo goes beyond just a mere fascination with villains or an unconventional way of conquering your fear of clowns. This detailed, often large piece of body art carries profound symbolism.

Recall that one client of mine who chose an evil clown tattoo as a representation of his restlessness and his desire to shake up the status quo. He saw it as an emblem of people often wearing masks, hiding their true selves. While most prefer a colorful, ultra-realistic portrait style for their evil clown tattoos, some veer towards an exciting black and grey design. Whatever your style preference, remember, the essence of this tattoo lies in its symbolism and the narrative it weaves about your life.

Next on our journey, we have the Pennywise tattoos, inspired by the notorious clown from Stephen King’s legendary “IT”. This isn’t just a terrifying tattoo meant to send shivers down the spine; it’s a badge of courage. It’s a proclamation that you’re tough, and fear has no place in your realm.

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Remember the Joker, with his dramatic mouth and piercing stare? The Joker tattoos have always been popular due to their iconic symbolism. This isn’t just about a villainous clown; it’s a representation of that hidden dark side each one of us possesses.

A recent client of mine chose a Joker tattoo to express his darker side to the world. He saw the Joker not as an evil character, but as a person who had been hurt repeatedly, much like himself. This tattoo can be a powerful representation for those who have faced many adversities and have learnt to channel their trauma into strength.

Where Does the Clown Idea Come From?

Clown Tattoos
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To fully appreciate the depth of clown tattoos, let’s take a look at their origin. Clowns, or jesters, have been around for centuries. They’re tricksters, known for their comedic timing, often instigating a sense of unease due to their deceptive nature. This concept led to the creation of the evil clown archetype, a character that takes delight in causing chaos.

Court jesters, one of the earliest clowns, were far from innocent. They often held difficult and degrading positions, forced to entertain royals at their expense. This trickster trait has continued through history, with characters like Mr. Punch from the Punch and Judy show, a dark comedic character who wreaked havoc with his actions.

Clowns in Modern Pop Culture

Nowadays, clowns are having a moment in pop culture, with the Joker and Pennywise taking center stage in comic books and movies. These characters symbolize the restlessness and anger felt by many, and their tattoos have become a form of self-expression.

The bottom line is, whether you choose an evil clown tattoo or a Pennywise design, each has its unique narrative and symbolism. It’s about choosing the one that resonates with you. Remember, your tattoo is your story, and I’m here to help you bring it to life. So, are you ready to create your unique piece of body art?


So there you have it, my friends – an exciting dive into the intriguing realm of clown tattoos. Whether you’re drawn to the daringly evil, the fearlessly iconic Pennywise, or the multifaceted Joker, each tattoo tells a unique story. Remember, your tattoo should resonate with you personally, encapsulating your spirit and journey. Make sure to consult with a trusted professional to ensure that your tattoo is executed safely and beautifully. Consider the permanence, the pain, and the aftercare involved. Be aware that these tattoos may stir different emotions in others due to their potent symbolism.

But ultimately, don’t shy away from expressing yourself. This journey into the world of tattoos is not just about getting inked; it’s about discovering a piece of yourself, embracing it, and wearing it boldly. So, are you ready to make your mark on the world with your unique clown tattoo? Embrace the process, and let your tattoo tell your one-of-a-kind story. Let’s create some fantastic art together!

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