Welcome to Water & Ash, our series showcasing the best black and grey tattoos out there. From Chicano-style payasas to terrifyingly realistic horror tattoos, the world of black and grey is immense and intriguing. Find the best of it here each week.
If you’re the kind of freak who revels in imagery that would make most viewers wet themselves, then these terrifying tattoos are right up your alley. We’ve gathered together eight unsettling compositions by some of our favorite tattooists who specialize in bringing nightmares to life. All of these artists excel at black and grey realism, and they use their uncanny abilities to raise the dead, summon hellspawn, and depict the many faces of death — serial killers, succubi, and evil entities alike. Before tip-toeing down this cursed road, be warned, what you’re about to see is not for the faint of heart, even if it’s just frightening body art.
No other style captures the unnerving power of horror quite like black and grey realism. The shadowy aesthetic of this approach to tattooing channels the hair-raising potential of this bloodcurdling genre of art. Through the use of high contrast, these tattooists give shape to the unspeakable things that lurk throughout our collective subconscious. As each of them demonstrates, the devil is truly in the details when it comes to creating horrifying body art. To inspire fear on the behalf of the beholder requires accurately rendering the grime of a figure like Twisty the Clown’s teeth or the gleam in Pennywise’s hungry eyes.
A few of the tattooists featured here — Travis Greenough and Danny Lepore — capture the likenesses of the most frightening characters to ever creep across the silver screen. Paul Booth turned to H. P. Lovecraft for inspiration, while Stepan Negur, Bob Tyrrell, and Victor Portugal feature archetypes that have been associated with horror since the dawn of man. Speaking of the demonic, Carl Grace’s tattoo is so grotesque that it defies description, and Anrijs Straume, with his revealing portrait of Paris Hilton, shows how humans (especially her) are the most revolting monsters of all.
To see more petrifying realistic body art, run like a starlet in a slasher flick over to these tattooists’ Instagrams. If you’re a diehard fan of horror, then consider showing your love for the genre by getting a gruesome black and grey masterpiece by one of them.