Coulrophobia, fear of clowns, is one of the most common phobias and according to a study by Chapman University, it impacts roughly 7.8 percent of Americans. The role of a clown has been shown in many different cultures throughout history, from the performers of Ancient Egypt to the tricksters in Native American mythology to the court jesters of the European medieval period. The modern clown is often associated with the circus and came into popularity during the sideshow movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.
In the Western world, one of the first evil clowns was featured in the 1849 short story "Hop-Frog" by Edgar Allen Poe, which follows a court jester who murders the kingdom. More contemporary examples of the evil clown trope include Stephen King's "It," and the Joker. The evil clown trope became a true crime phenomenon because of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who regularly performed at children's hospitals as Pogo or Patches the Clown. Today, there are tons of examples of evil clowns throughout popular culture, spanning from television depictions in "American Horror Story" to the zombie clowns featured in the video game "Left 4 Dead 2." Filmmakers and designers certainly aren't making it easy for people with coulrophobia, but neither are tattoo artists.
There are tons of tattooers from around the world who've created terrifying evil clown tattoos—both taking inspiration from beloved characters and pulling the creatures from their own imagination. Take a look at some of our favorite scary clown tattoos in the gallery below, then let us know if you're afraid of clowns in the comments section on social media.