The Grim Reaper is often depicted as a skeleton in a black robe, carrying a large scythe and ready to strike the next soul at any moment. This imagery has been a popular personification of the natural phenomena called death for a really long time and eventually found its way in the world of tattooing. Essentially, death is neither evil nor good. The reaper's main job is simply to fetch the souls at the fated moment and lead them to their final resting place. Impressions and preconceived ideas about death perhaps led to the establishment of skeletal figures as suitable grim reaper images. Today, designs of grim reaper tattoos incorporate other elements like colors and flowers to enhance the aesthetic appeal of this classic image.
One way to tweak the classic grim reaper image is to make the reaper adapt a different stance. The reaper can appear to be sitting down while browsing the book of destiny; it can stand while looking over its shoulder as if trying to say that someone else's turn is about to come; it can be made to stare at you directly; or it can be in the act of striking the person next in line. Changing the reaper's stance will certainly create variation in grim reaper tattoos.
Another way to modify the basic grim reaper image for designs of grim reaper tattoos is to substitute the scythe with objects that indicate someone else's turn as well as objects that represent time running out. Chess pieces, dice or a bowling ball are perfect indicators of a turn. Pocket watches, hour glasses, or a ticking time bomb are some interesting pieces that will emphasize that another soul will soon be fetched. Substituting a baseball bat, a golf club or a hockey stick for the scythe may also work.
Lastly, to complete the design concepts of grim reaper tattoos, a background setting must be added. The reaper may stand amidst burning trees; it may be climbing up from the ground; it may be standing on a floating boat; it may be designed as if it was hovering; or it can be designed such that it seems to be residing beneath the person's skin. Other elements like blood or pointed objects will add gore to the image. But if a less scary tattoo is preferred, the image can adapt a cartoony style. Color will also add dimension to the tattoo.