Aliens, ghosts, Bigfoot, and mermaids– The question of their veracity has haunted the minds of skeptics and believers alike for centuries. Now, with the rise of the cryptidcore aesthetic, it’s at least a little more socially acceptable to rant about the latest Lowlands Frog sighting without your mother questioning whether you need to go back to see that therapist or if you’ll just let everyone enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner for once.
But what is about the paranormal that deserves its own aesthetic?
Long before Roswell became an extraterrestrial site of legend or that guy from Ancient Aliens became a meme, our ancestors wondered what strange creatures stalked the floodplains and forests of their homelands.
With the rise of modern cable television and, later, the internet, those born with the deeply ingrained curiosity to understand things outside of logic and science have only grown in their hunger for knowledge.
Today, well-kept secret conspiracies and coverups are shared with millions of open-minded onlookers, fueling their fire for truth.
Full disclosure: In researching cryptidcore, I found myself being very, very familiar with most of the YouTube channels, shows, and personal habits of this strange crop of folks.
Have I seen everything that Ryan Bagara and Shane Madej or The Last Podcast on the Left have ever created multiple times?
Do I own at least a dozen items featuring my boy Mothman?
Was my first crush Agent Mulder?
Does that mean I identify as cryptidcore?
I’m more concerned with which government agency sent you to ask me that.
Cryptidcore Aesthetic Design Motifs and Themes
- Reading, writing, and sharing conspiracy theories
- True belief in the paranormal
- Urban exploration particularly abandoned buildings and “haunted” houses
- Camping/spending time in the woods for research
- Newspaper clippings
- Liminal spaces
- The SCP Foundation and NoSleep subreddit
- Videography and photography, particularly Polaroid cameras
- Vintage and thrifted clothing
- Maps with marked sites of abductions or sightings
- Documentaries and horror films
- “Night owl” living, including eating in diners and sleeping through the day
- Glamourization of paranoia and anxiety about the unknown
- Organized chaos in terms of home cleanliness and clothing; i.e. wearing a Bigfoot t-shirt that’s several sizes too large but tucked in and with a belt
- Handwritten notes, carrying around a notebook and pencil everywhere
- Cryptid and UFO posters
- Cassette and VHS tapes
- Being endearingly single-minded
- Scatterbrained thought and speech
- Tracking down lost media
- Watching YouTube iceberg content
- Clue-gathering and online collaboration to solve cold cases
Because of the importance of our– sorry, their— research, those who participate in the cryptidcore aesthetic are less concerned about fashion than they are about function.
That said, there’s still a very particular type of clothing you’re likely to see them sporting. It usually includes practical options like cargo pants and boots for last-minute research visits or t-shirts from tourist traps across the United States.
Other stylistic choices typically include:
- Messenger bags and backpacks with iron-on patches
- Oversized clothing, particularly t-shirts and sweaters
- Lanyards with paranormal-themed pins
- Graphic t-shirts
- Combat boots or Doc Martens
- Bucket or baseball hats
- Cargo khaki shorts or pants
Cryptidcore Aesthetic Influential Media
“They’re lurking in museums, graveyards, and private homes. Their often tragic and always bizarre stories have inspired countless horror movies, reality TV shows, novels, and campfire tales. They’re cursed objects, and all they need to unleash a wave of misfortune is . . . you.”
- The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes
“EASTER 1976 – Two young girls playing in the churchyard of Mawnan Old Church in southern Cornwall were frightened by what they described as a “nasty bird-man” flying over the church tower. ”
- Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens by John E. Mack
“These mesmerizing and thought-provoking stories of alien encounters from a Harvard professor take you through actual case studies of people from all walks of life and ages who have had challenging, sometimes disturbing, and in every case, life changing experiences of alien abduction.”
- The United States of Cryptids by J.W. Ocker
“Welcome to the United States of Cryptids, where mysterious monsters lurk in the dark forests, deep lakes, and sticky swamps of all fifty states. From the infamous Jersey Devil to the obscure Snallygaster, travel writer and chronicler of the strange J. W. Ocker uncovers the bizarre stories of these creatures and investigates the ways in which communities embrace and celebrate their local cryptids.”
- Chasing American Monsters by Jason Offutt
“The Black Dog of Hanging Hills, the Tommyknockers of Pennsylvania, the Banshee of the Badlands—these beasts and hundreds more will hold you spellbound, unable to look away from their frightful features and their extraordinary stories.”
- The Extraterrestrial Species Almanac: The Ultimate Guide to Greys, Reptilians, Hybrids, and Nordics by Craig Campobasso
“This is the ultimate field guide to the 82 extraterrestrial species that populate the universe. ET enthusiast Craig Campobasso explores the origins, physical characteristics, technological and consciousness abilities, dimensional capacities, belief systems, and cosmic agendas of each of the species.”
- Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen
“Do you hate social gatherings? Dodge cameras? Enjoy staying up just a little too late at night? You might have more in common with your local cryptid than you think! Enter the world of Cryptid Club, a look inside the adventures of elusive creatures ranging from Mothman to the Loch Ness Monster.”
- Breverton’s Phantasmagoria by Terry Breverton
“A superbly illustrated guide to the mysteries of myth, legend, and—gulp!—real life.“
- Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide to 50 Fascinating Beasts by Kelly Milner Halls and Rick Spears
“Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious creatures that fall between the realm of real and imaginary on the scientific spectrum. Cryptid Creatures: A Field Guide offers a closer look at fifty of these amazing creatures, examining the best possible evidence for each, including scientific papers, magazine and newspaper articles, and credible eyewitness accounts.”
“A collection of tales which range from comic to tragic, but often have a wicked sense of humor and an unexpected twist.”
“Twin siblings Dipper and Mabel Pines spend the summer at their great-uncle’s tourist trap in the enigmatic Gravity Falls, Oregon.”
“An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks.”
“Science and mythology – and how they are the same thing.”
“Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as hunters, fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons and gods that roam the earth.”
“Two F.B.I. Agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.”
“Two brothers find themselves lost in a mysterious land and try to find their way home.”
“A reporter is drawn to a small West Virginia town to investigate a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities.”
“The crew of a commercial spacecraft encounter a deadly lifeform after investigating an unknown transmission.”
“The Henderson family adopt a friendly Sasquatch but have a hard time trying to keep the legend of ‘Bigfoot’ a secret.”
“After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.”
“In the Falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.”
“Three parapsychologists forced out of their university funding set up shop as a unique ghost removal service in New York City, attracting frightened yet skeptical customers.”
“Scientists mount an expedition to find a Bigfoot-type creature.”
“A documentary-style drama about the “Fouke Monster”, a Bigfoot-type creature that has been sighted in and around Fouke, Arkansas since the 1950s.”
“A duo of gun happy redneck hunters stupidly break a sacred circle in a hunting spree, which releases the deadly wendigo. The wendigo kills many of the hunters gruesomely, leaving the chosen woman and a gun toting idiot to destroy the deadly beast.”
Cryptidcore Aesthetic Resources and References
Internet Personalities and Social Media
- Wendigoon YouTube Channel
- Watcher YouTube Channel
- Nexpo YouTube Channel
- SCP Explained YouTube Channel
- Lazy Masquerade YouTube Channel
- The Proper People YouTube Channel
- cryptidcore folk punk because i want to live in the middle of nowhere and be mistaken for a creature by decomposition forever
- theres something out there by calzik
- Cryptidcore Vibe Time by CrypticMoth
Subreddits and Tumblr Blogs
- Cryptid Quest
- Cryptids of the World
- Cryptid Chronicles
- Cryptozoology Informational Blog
- myths | CRYPTIDS & MAGICAL FIGURES by aimmyarrowshigh
- Cryptids, Creatures, Bakemono and Yokai by Jenn Zieska
Cryptids aliens ufos oh my!!!! by The Great King Porky Minch
- The Last Podcast on the Left hosted by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zabrowski
- Welcome to Nightvale hosted by Cecil Baldwin
- Lore hosted by Aaron Mahnke
- The NoSleep Podcast hosted by David Cummings
- Red Web hosted by Trevor Collins and Alfredo Diaz