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The image of a skull has been widely used for symbolic purposes, and is now one of the most popular tattoo designs for men and women alike. Perhaps this is in an effort to say "while we are alive, might as well have some fun, right!?

Long used by pirates to show their ruthlessness and ‘take no prisoner’ attitude, the skull image was the worst enemy of a captive, as it promised their certain death. The most famous pirates of the modern age include Johnny Depp and co, whose shipmates aboard the Black Pearl found themselves quite literally walking corpses, with their own skull and bones to boot!

There is a certain respect the skull commands- a skull and crossbones marked on a vial let the drinker know the contents were poison...except for that one unfortunate incident in The Emperor’s New Groove, where a skull and bones is mistaken for a llama. Perhaps something to check on your image before getting the design permanently inked on your body!

However, the skull tattoo's symbolism can be altered to fit the living, as a symbol for cheating death (I’m sure that’s where this kid’s movie was taking it). Where the heart is commonly thought of as the seat of the soul, the skull houses the brain, and is therefore also associated with philosophy and the humanities. Instead of death, the skull can be seen as the process of creation, a link to the cycles of nature and the rise and fall of man.

An increasingly popular design is a recreation of the dark mark from the beloved series, Harry Potter. The dark mark is worn on the forearm of the villains, and is a tattoo composed of a skull with a snake slithering out of the mouth. For other creative designs, try transfiguring the skull to resemble an animal or place the skull in a bed of roses or thorns.

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The skull: we all have one, and it is pretty safe to say that some are larger than others! Both fascinating and repellent, the skull tattoo design symbolizes death and mortality.

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It serves as a remnant of the body that must remain dormant until the grave, and then emerges as a reminder of the corpse it once served.

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A skull design is devoid of flesh, it has no real human attachment, the eyes, the nose, the brain all are gone, and yet the human skull is decidedly, well… human! This is because we still see a reflection of ourselves in a skull, and we are reminded that death is in fact coming for us all.

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For lovers of books and the theatre, skull tattoo designs can make the perfect homage to a favorite book or play, penned by an author or performed by an actor from long ago. The iconic image of Shakespeare is commonly depicted with a skull, a Hamlet reference.

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