Gallows as we think of them today usually consist of two upright posts and a crossbeam from which a rope with a noose at the end hangs, usually with a trapdoor that will open, or something for the hanged person to stand on that gets pushed or kicked out from under them. But this traditional version of the gallows was not documented until 1760 in England.
Gallows throughout history also refer to crucifixion during the Romans rule, and in the Middle Ages in Paris a square structure with wooden columns from which people would hang in the elements before being dropped into a pit to die.
Gallows in their most notable form are meant to break the persons spine, killing them instantly, but often people died by strangulation or even beheading. Until 1832 in England many people were hanged by being drawn up from the platform by a heavy weight, causing death by strangulation which would have been very slow and painful.
Public hangings were very popular and were even treated as good old entertainment for the whole family. In fact, the last public hanging in the United States was only in 1936, with the last public hanging in the United Kingdom taking place in 1868.
As a tattoo, gallows are often done in heavy blackwork, pointillism or dotwork, American traditional, or black and grey. Gallows tattoos are popular with people interested in the more macabre side of life, and many artists who create darker imagery use gallows as a common theme.
For those who are unfamiliar, the guillotine is a device made for execution by beheading. The structure consists of a tall wooden frame from which a razor sharp and heavy blade hangs ready to fall on its victim who is placed in a stock of sorts, leaving the neck exposed and ready to be separated from its body.
The guillotine as we know it was allegedly invented by Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin as a more humane way to execute people. It was significantly quicker than even regular beheading by axe which could be easily botched and would often take two or more swings to finally kill the victim. This specific name “guillotine” dates back to 1789, France, but similar devices with different structural designs existed for centuries before; such as the “planke” in Germany and Flanders dating back to the Middle Ages, and the “Halifax Gibbet” in England which may have been used as far back as antiquity. But the French guillotine design was specifically based off of two other existing execution devices; the “mannaia” from Italy during the Renaissance, and the “Scottish Maiden” from Scotland which was used from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Dr. Guillotin was apparently horrified when the device was named after him, and his family even tried (and failed) to have the name changed in the early 19th century. The French Guillotine claimed its first victim in April 1972, and its last use was in France in 1977 where it was still the main method of execution until capital punishment was stopped in 1981. While hundreds of thousands of people met their bloody end underneath the glinting blade of a guillotine, the most infamous time of its usage was during the French Revolution which took place from September 1793 – July 1794. During this relatively short time a shocking 16,594 people were executed by the guillotine in France, with 2,639 in Paris alone.
Public beheadings existed from the beginning of the French Revolution until 1939 in France, but during the Revolution it was extremely popular for anyone, including families to check out an execution and even grab a bite to eat at the famous “Cabaret de la Guillotine” before watching the bloodbath. There was even a well known trio of women called the “Tricoteuses,” who used to sit next to the guillotine and knitted in between executions. Theatrics even became popular for those being executed with some dancing on their way up the steps, and others offering jokes and sarcastic remarks before their heads rolled away.
As tattoos, guillotines are popular with those interested in the darker side of life and history buffs alike. They are easily recognizable and can be done in many styles including American traditional, neo-traditional, black and grey, blackwork, and woodblock print styles. They are often accompanied by decapitated heads, skulls, flowers, flames, and blood.
Black out tattoos have been growing in popularity over the last few years, with some people even getting full body suits in this style.
Black out tattoos are exactly what they sound like, large amounts of black ink as the subject, sometimes covering older existing tattoos.
Some black out tattoos also feature some geometric style work mixed in, or white ink over top of the black.
Many black out tattoo collectors do it in part for the experience of getting the tattoo, as a full blackout (especially as a coverup) can be very painful, creating an almost spiritual experience for the person getting tattooed.
Most artists who do black out tattoos specialize in it, as it’s not actually all that easy to make a full sleeve or torso look even in its blackness, especially when the piece is done in multiple sessions.
Hattie Rich is an artist working out of Rose of Mercy in London, England. Her work is mainly filed with old school traditional work, but she also does great ornamental pieces.
Hattie has lots of flash to choose from, both old school and ornamental, or you can also bring your own idea!
Whether you like bright and colourful, or black and bold, you can be sure Hattie will have something you’ll love. In her flash you’ll find lots of lady heads, flowers, dragons, animals, and more.
The ornamental work currently on Hattie’s Instagram will remind you of delicate lace patterns, and can be made to fit most parts of the body.
If you can’t make it all the way to London from outside of the UK you can also purchase merchandise and flash from Hattie here. But if you’re in the area or live nearby be sure to get a cool piece from Hattie at Rose of Mercy.
Witches have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, and span across all cultures in various forms and with different names, but we’re all familiar with them, and they’re more popular than ever (in Western culture at least).
Witches and witchcraft have had many different meanings over the years, but traditionally it refers to women (often portrayed as old crones) practicing some kind of dark magic that often involves spirits and/or satan himself. Throw in some cannibalism, a pet familiar, and other ghosts and ghouls and you’ve got yourself a party.
Wicca is a predominantly western movement whose followers “worship” nature, and base the religion upon pre-Christian traditions of mainly Northern and Eastern Europe. Some important celebrations for Wiccans include Halloween, the summer solstice, winter solstice, and vernal equinox.
Witchcraft and witches have become so mainstream today that even businesses such as Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and others sell products like tarot cards, witch-themed makeup, Ouija boards, crystals, and more.
As a tattoo, many people choose the more “classic” witch look; pointy hat and all. Blackwork, American traditional and black and grey are some of the more popular styles for witches, and many folks choose to get witch burning tattoos, witches haunting places, or witches with their broomsticks or familiars.
Scream, first released in 1996, written by Kevin Williamson, and directed by the great Wes Craven, has turned into one of the most popular horror franchises around, spanning four films from the 1990’s to 2010’s, with a 5th on the way.
Scream was pretty groundbreaking in its day, being a slasher film that successfully moved into the mainstream through its use of comedy and self awareness. The first film was written by Williamson in just three days after he got the idea for the film during a scare he had a few days earlier in which he heard a noise while watching tv, and noticed that the window was open, which he hadn’t done. He reportedly called a friend while grabbing a knife from the kitchen. His friend apparently started asking him about scary movies to distract him, and the opening scene of the first Scream was born. The idea for the film overall was also loosely inspired by a series of real murders committed by serial killer Danny Rolling, AKA the Gainesville Ripper.
Wes Craven actually wore the Ghostface mask once during filming, in the opening scene between he and Casey (Drew Barrymore), and also made a brief cameo as a janitor. Drew Barrymore’s tears were real, as Wes Craven told her real stories about animal cruelty in order to “keep her upset and crying.” Drew was also using a real phone, and the props master JP Jones had forgotten to unplug it, leading her to call 911 for real while filming.
Originally the Weinstein brothers approached directors George A. Romero and Sam Raimi to direct, but they both turned it down. Wes Craven initially passed as well, but when he heard Drew Barrymore was originally set to play Sidney Prescott he signed on. Of course Drew changed her mind, and Neve Campbell became Sidney, and did a great job in the role for years to come.
As a tattoo most people choose to get some form of Ghostface, usually in a black work or American traditional style. Knives with Ghostface superimposed within are also quite popular. Do you have a Scream tattoo?
Cthulhu is a fictional entity that was created by horror-fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft and was first seen in 1928 in his story The Call of Cthulhu. Its physical appearance is supposed to be so horrible that it destroys the sanity of anyone who looks at it. It is described as “a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.”
Cthulhu is a priest or leader for “the Old Ones” who are a species that came to earth from space well before humans came to be. The Old Ones lay dormant and their city was buried under the earth’s crust, beneath the Pacific Ocean. They were more or less forgotten about by the majority of humans, except for certain “uncivilized” groups of people who remembered Cthulhu and the Old Ones and worshipped them in horrible rites and rituals.
H.P. Lovecraft is regarded as one of the most influential and well-known horror-fantasy writers, having influenced modern horror writers and directors such as Stephen King, Guillermo del Toro, Junji Ito, Matt and Ross Duffer, Matt Ruff, Misha Green, and countless others. He is also known as the creator of the sub-genre of horror known as “Cosmic Horror”.
Despite Lovecraft’s wide reach, he was also extremely racist, and people like Matt Ruff and Misha Green (Lovecraft Country) have worked to expose that while still recognizing the cultural relevance, particularly of Cthulhu and other creatures. By the early 1930’s he was defending white Lynch mobs and praising Hitler in letters to friends, and short stories such as “The Shadow over Innsmouth”, and “The Horror of Red Hook” made non-white folks out to be primitive and less than human.
As a tattoo, many people choose to get Cthulhu in a more realistic style, although neo-traditional and new school are also popular. What is your favourite story featuring Cthulhu?