Creative Community

Ask The Creative Community: What Scares You?

by Maxwell Tielman


Every so often, we run a post that asks the creative community to answer practical, everyday questions in the hope that they will be of some use to our readers. Back in January, when the series started, we had artists and designers share their favorite remedies for the common cold. In February, it was all about the perfect first date. In March, we shared the creative community’s go-to hangover cures. Today is Halloween, so the real question on our minds is quite simple—What Scares You? As Design*Sponge’s resident worrywart, pretty much everything terrifies me—from hypodermic needles to dark windows at night. It seems that everybody, though, has their own set of bizarre (and oftentimes hilarious) fears. Check out some of our favorite creative community and reader submissions (along with our own) after the jump! —Max



“1. Bugs that can jump or fly (spiders, roaches). 2. Textures that look like dried skin or scales (cracked earth terrifies me). 3. Zombies (but a good kind of scare). 4. Rhythmic drum beats in songs that sound like marching. That tempo terrifies me and makes me feel like something bad is building up.” —Grace, Design*Sponge

“I can be a bit of a scaredy cat. I don’t like roller coasters or scary movies. Even if there is a suspenseful moment in a sitcom, I get the heebie jeebies and have to pace around the room. But I get seriously creeped out by discarded shoes in the street. It just leaves me with so many questions. How did they get there? Where are the feet? Did something awful happen to the feet that were once in those shoes? It gives me the creeps!” —Amy, Design*Sponge




“Festivals. Weird I know, but my Mom took me to Woodstock (yes, I am that old) and while I don’t have a conscious memory of it, I think it left an impression. I went to art school (SVA) but at heart I feel like I was a risk manager at some point in a previous life, so festivals and mass organized gatherings freak me out because I feel like I need proof that this, that and the other thing was carefully considered, studied and has a back-up plan if something goes wrong. Kinds hard for me to focus on the fun festy aspect – because i am carefully plotting triage stations should there be alien attack.” —Caitlin, Design*Sponge




“The ocean scares me! I’ve never gone in further then my knees!” — Joy Deangdeelert Cho, OhJoy.com

“Sharks and hurricanes. I’m in Tulum on vacation so water fears are top of mind!” — Jascon Gnewikow, Athletics

“I am afraid of flying. No matter how often I travel for work, I still get freaked out during takeoff!” — Jennifer Causey, Photographer

“I’m scared of heights and narrow places, high speed cars, and horror movies. There was a time I used to do all Six Flags, but that was such a long time ago… Like I was a different person” —Sivan Askayo, Photographer

“Bats. Raccoons. Stray cats. Pretty much any mammal. Anything that could have rabies. I have an overwhelming, totally irrational fear of rabies.” —Max, Design*Sponge


We might have gotten a bit carried away with all of these scares and we reached out to Twitter and Facebook for more submissions! Here are our favorites from you, dear readers!




“The water that collects in my toothbrush holder.” —Danielli Alejos Oliver

“Antiques hiding under chalk paint! Eeeek!” —Brit Harris

“Jumpy parts in movies and accidentally overdrawing my bank account” —Shawn Covington

“The thought of having to touch cotton balls. It’s the worst feeling ever.” —Shannon Quinn Baird

“Times New Roman” —Bob Davis

“COMIC SANS!!!!” —Martrese White

“My boyfriend’s idea of a stellar paint job…The paint stops abruptly in places it shouldn’t.” —Emily Carey

“Really big kids at my door with very deep voices, Halloween night.” —Alonge Scinta Pauline

Suggested For You


  • I’m petrified of slugs. I stepped on one once as a kid and I can so distinctly remember the sound and texture everytime I see a slug (or even think the word slug. Ew! What a gross word.) The most traumatizing moment of my recent past was when my puppy decided to “play” with a slug…in his mouth. It was a real testing moment for my relationship. I don’t think my boyfriend has ever seen me freak out quite like that. Lucky for me, he had the fortitude to plunge his hand into the dog’s mouth and scoop out the offending (and no doubt petrified) slug.

    And weirdly, I’m disturbed by air pockets or water bubbles in paint. I think it’s because, similar to Grace’s phobia of cracked earth, the bubbles remind me of a skin infection or pustule of some kind. I will always remember the time I cried hysterically when a plumbing leak caused all sorts of water bubbles in my parents bedroom wall. They were totally mystified at my reaction.

  • Furbies. I hate them. Hate them. My mom use to buy furbies at garage sales and put them in my car when I was in high school. She even sent me one in the mail when I went to college. Care package from mom: peanut butter, new toothbrush, magazines, money, and 6 furbies.

    June bugs. Their creepy velcro-y feet. It’s giving me the willies right now. I was sitting at a bonfire and I felt something on my neck, I tried to keep it cool and flick it off. It went down my shirt into my pants. I promptly freaked out dancing around with my hand down the back of my pants trying to get out the June bug. It was a bobby pin that had fallen out of my hair. It was still just as scary, and significantly more entertaining than had it been a real June bug.

  • I don’t like spiders. I also have an existential fear of never being successful, which is an odd one to have, but there you h ave it..

  • I’m mostly scared of petty little things…

    But ever since that day when I was young, and fainted in the dentists chair after he had pulled my tooth out, teeth are definitely my worst nightmare. When I had new teeth coming in when I was young, I would never ever pull them out or even touch them with my tongue for fear of them falling out.

    Also scared of balloons popping… I HATE the suspense and anticipation.

  • I am TERRIFIED of needles. It didn’t stop me from getting two tattoos (and a third in December…) but still. But I HAVE to watch them go in. It’s weird.

  • Like Alex, I am totally completely terrified of slugs… and snails, any gastropods at all. The lone type I can handle (barely) is a nasty thing called a “sea hare”… for some reason I can hold one of those bad boys without a shiver. Rainy season is a nightmare, because if I see a snail “out” on the sidewalk, I will cross the street to avoid it. I FLIP MY ISH if there’s any inkling of slime trails around my home. My relationship with my sister in law is irrevocably ruined because I told her, under no circumstances would I ever visit her slug infested home. People, she has slugs IN HER HOUSE. Nope!
    … And it all falls back to the evil kid across the street who used to hold me down and stick them on me when I was little.

  • I’ve been an adult for more than 2 decades and I’m still afraid of the dark, especially the basement at night when no one else is home.

  • Maggots and mold.

    Sooooo gross! The way maggots wriggle and the sound of the mass of all of them and the fur like growths of mold. AAHhhh. I’m squirming just typing this!

  • I am afraid of fish and butterflies.
    But don’t care about rats, spiders or snakes (unless they are in the water).

  • I cannot stand most insects, is it a girly thing? Add in worms, snakes, eels etc. But squirrels-UGH! I had an incident a few years back. I live on the top floor of an old walk-up apartment building. I started to notice a noise around my window screens. A small baby squirrel was trying to get in, and seemed to be pretty angry about not succeeding. The following year, he came back, bigger and stronger. Louder and determined more than ever. He was absolutely insane, like a squirrel serial killer. One day he finally chewed a hole big enough to get into my kitchen window, unbeknownst to me. I went into my kitchen, just in time to see him fly out of the hole. I let out a scream and closed the glass window. I then inspected all my window screens and all were chewed on. Try explaining that to the landlord. I did, . and he got them repaired. Needless to say, I have no great love for that species at all. I always think about why he chose my apartment? If anyone knows about squirrel behavior, I would be happy if you might shed some light. P.S. I never saw him again after the two seasons in hell. I like to think that an animal team from Criminal Minds profiled him and picked him up!

  • I’m not great, around cockroaches or spiders…but, for the most part, I don’t have many phobias.

    However, as I child I had a really active imagination; and, when I was really…really…little… (Like, 3-5 years old.) I was a bit afraid of “Nanny” on “Muppet Babies”. There was something frightening, about seeing a giant, headless, woman walking around and having conversations with everyone…

    Also, the movie “The Dark Crystal” really creeped me out, as a kid. (There are parts of it that make me uncomfortable, still to this day.)

  • Clowns. Fish hooks. Dentists (Although my current dentist is awesome in spite of my terror. He mocks me and makes me laugh.). A dentist dressed as a clown with a fishing hat would put me over the edge!

  • Bridges. If I’m am passenger in the car then I stare straight ahead and don’t look to either side. If I’m the driver, I get a squirmy, screamy feeling in my stomach and it’s all I can do not to mash down on the gas pedal to get across more quickly.

    Most of my nightmares have either bridges or tsunamis in them. Dreadful, just dreadful!

  • Oatmeal, especially cold oatmeal. Or wheat paste for papier mache. Ugh and the smell. I can barely bring myself to think of it. After giving birth to my first child and not eating for 2 days, the 1st thing they allowed me to eat was (insert psycho shower scene music here) OATMEAL! I still could not bring myself to eat it. I won’t bore you with the details behind that bit of psychology, but suffice it to say it had something to do with starving children….. It is ok in cookies though. With raisins and walnuts.

  • Snakes. I can’t even look at a picture of one. And then a snake got loose in the building where I work…

    Murphy’s Law.

    Oh, and the evil queen from Disney’s ‘Snow White’ when she turns into that creepy old hag. I seriously believe that she hid in my closet for the first 7 years of my life.

  • The one about touching cotton balls was my favorite. I full-on guffawed. In part because I have similar aversion to that squeaky styrofoam. And when you’re unpacking a parcel filled with packing peanuts and they just basically LEAP right out of the box like fleas and static-cling like hell all over your body?? NO.

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