7 Tattoos That Are Believed To Be Bad Luck, According To Tattoo Artists

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If you're someone who is at all superstitious or spiritual, then it's likely that you consider tattoos to be a bit more meaningful than just the design you happen to choose. The secret meanings of tattoos are plentiful, and not all of them are positive. Tattoos are believed to be be bad luck for a variety of reasons, but tattoo artists are on the front lines of understanding which, and why.

Whether a tattoo is bad luck has a lot to do with the individual client. "Luck is truly in the eye of the beholder," tattoo artist Jordanne Le Fae, tells Bustle. "[...] Whether the tattoo is truly unlucky based on the content of the tattoo will really depend on the persons faith." Beyond that, there are certain designs that tattoo artists notice clients getting that end up being bad omens for the future (like couples tattoos).

Some other tattoos have more universally bad energy. "There is hidden magic in some symbols," tattoo expert Lisa Barretta, author of Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos, tells Bustle. "It’s possible to have a bad emotional reaction to a tattoo if you are not familiar with the meaning of certain esoteric images. Granted, in most cases you determine what a symbol personally means to you, but there are ancient magic symbols that don’t have flexibility to be other than what they are." Tattooing has long been considered sacred and mystical, and their power is believed to not have gone away with time.

Here are seven tattoos that are considered bad luck, according to tattoo artists.

Your Significant Other's Name

Getting your significant other's name tattooed, no matter how well your relationship is going, is considered a kiss of death according to tattoo artists.

"A specific example of a tattoo that I consider bad luck is a significant other's name," Tyson Weed, tattoo artist at Sentient Tattoo Collective in Tempe, AZ, tells Bustle. "It's like a hex on a relationship. Whether it's three weeks, three months, or three years later — I almost always see that person again for a cover up [...] And it doesn't work in reverse — if your relationship is already failing, getting a tattoo of the other person's name won't save it." If you want to get a tattoo honoring your relationship, then you may want to get something other than their name.

An Upside Down Cross

For those who believe in the symbolism of the cross, it's important to be careful about how exactly you get it tattooed.

"It is a very common request to get a cross tattoo on the forearm, but clients frequently want it facing them because it is 'for them,'" Le Fae says. "This then means that the cross is upside down the rest of the world, and could be considered unlucky." In general, getting a tattoo upside down is discouraged.

An Unfinished Dragon Tattoo

Different cultures and backgrounds have differing beliefs about what makes a tattoo bad luck.

"In Chinese culture, it is unlucky to fill in the eyes of a dragon tattoo until the tattoo is completed, because [with the eyes being the window to the soul] the dragon will feel the pain of getting tattooed once its eyes are completed and its soul intact," Le Fae says. So if you're getting a sleeve tattoo, for instance, you may want to tattoo eyes last.


666 is one of the more well-known symbols of bad luck. According to Barretta, this symbol can attract negative energy regardless of the wearer's personal beliefs.

"666 is another ominous symbol," Barretta says. "The vibration from that number sequence is considered the mark of the beast. Some people who have tattooed that number, even as a joke, found that in a weird, spooky way, somehow attracted negative situations into their lives." So if you're at all superstitious, it's probably best to avoid this design.

Death Knot

The Rune symbol of "valknut," known as the death knot, is another symbol that should not be taken lightly, according to Barretta.

"[The valknut is] one of Odin's symbols associated with the dead, possibly of the battle-slain, [and] some believe wearing or having this symbol tattooed is bad luck since it is associated with death," Barretta says. So if you see a design you like with three interlocked triangles, you may want to make sure you're not actually getting the valknut tattooed.


Many symbols that seem to be design-forward actually have deeper esoteric meanings worth understanding before getting tattooed. Sigils, inscribed symbols from the Lesser Key of Solomon, are particularly worth staying away from, according to Barretta.

"Sigils are a type of symbol or seal (often seen on talismans) that are created for specific magical intent," Barretta says. "These glyphs are used as a means to bridge the gap between the conscious and subconscious mind. Sigils implant intent and program your subconscious mind to empower your sigil. Some small symbols you may have innocently inked can adversely affect your own consciousness." If you at all believe in the power of tattoos, then these symbols should probably be avoided.

Macabre Tattoos
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You don't need to be plugged into mythological meaning to get a tattoo that has the potential to attract negative energy. Sometimes simply getting something particularly gory can be bad luck, Barretta says.

"Sometimes tattoos of really macabre images — such as a bloody knives or dark-natured images of devils with grizzly teeth — also, believe it or not, have a way of attracting 'bad tattoo juju,'" Barretta says. "Crazy as it seems, pictures speak a thousand words and tattoo images in a weird way convey an unspoken dialogue and seem to attract similar energy." So even if you can't find any connections in mythology, getting a particularly dark tattoo may still end up being bad luck.

In the end, what you decide to get tattooed is a personal decision, and bad luck is subjective. Still, tattoo artists and experts have witnessed certain patterns, and want to make sure clients are aware of the potential associations with the tattoos they get. Even if you don't believe in these meanings, it is worth understanding how serious of a decision it is to get something tattooed on your body forever.