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Cryptidcore is traditionally associated with cryptozoology, or the study of creatures from urban legends and folklore, and the romanticization of the adventure and mystery surrounding conspiracy theories, ghost-hunting, cryptid-hunting, and the supernatural. Most fans of the aesthetic are a part of, or want to be a part of, a community that gets to solve something beyond themselves with their friends and witness something strange and fantastical. Alternatively, some people interested in the aesthetic empathize or even want to be a cryptid themselves.

The visual aspects of Cryptidcore originate largely from the places these cryptids are allegedly located in (mostly the forests and deserts of the United States), as well as the kitschy tourist trap culture capitalizing on the people who have a fascination with these cryptids. Cryptidcore is also generally vintage, and takes visual inspiration, especially in regard to fashion, from the 1970s - 90s. This is largely due to the rise of tabloids and fiction revolving around these mysteries during that time.


History

In the early 1970s, after countless horror and sci-fi films and shows, a new breed of speculative horror was born. The TV show Kolchak: The Night Stalker centered on a reporter who researched aliens, vampires, and Bigfoot in night-shrouded forests, sewers, city, and suburban environments.

This went on to inspire the most famous occult-detective TV shows, namely David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and The X-Files (although neither had as much to do with cryptid mythology as The Night Stalker did). These continued on the aesthetic of After Hours-type environments added with the threat of supernatural horror.

During the early-to-mid-2010s, it was common for fandoms to create moodboards that encapsulate the aesthetic of the work or certain characters. Scooby-Doo (1969), Twin Peaks (1990), The X-Files (1993), Welcome to Night Vale (2012), Gravity Falls (2012), and Buzzfeed Unsolved (2016) are some fandoms that had a strong moodboard culture.[1] These works of fiction are all in the same sort of genre of supernatural and cryptid-oriented mysteries. Many fans thus are a part of all of these fandoms and noticed the similarities in the aesthetic to tie these works together under the Cryptidcore umbrella.

The term "Cryptidcore" first emerged from tumblr user on-a-crescendo in 2014, where they give a list of visuals, such as "kitschy t shirts and keychains from souvenir shops depicting the local urban legends and monsters," "tin foil hats," and "muffled x files, gravity falls, and twilight zone theme songs playing in the distance."[2] This post gained popularity, and the tag was born. As the text post was passed around and fans of different media made moodboards, the fans of Cryptidcore started to make aesthetic posts outside the context of fandom.

Many Cryptidcore elements also originated from the Regional Gothic trend on tumblr in 2015. Much of the trend was focused on elements of mystery, unreality, and the uncanny valley. Images such as deer in darkness, forests, diners, etc. in the Regional Gothic trend were popular, and have clear crossover with Cryptidcore.

Visual

  • Dark forests
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Polaroid cameras
  • Kitschy t-shirts
  • Key chains
  • Glow-in-the-dark iconography
  • Alien imagery
  • Supernatural-themed tourist traps
  • Ouija boards
  • Tin foil hats
  • Old alien or supernatural movies
  • VHS tapes
  • Pocket knives
  • Old newspapers of cryptid sightings
  • Cryptozoology field diaries

Fashion

Cryptidcore includes fashion that is casual, vintage, and retro style. Preferenced to practical and comfy outfits, typically with browns, beige and muted colours.

Some of the clothing would be things such as:

  • Big sweaters
  • Doc Martens/Combat boots
  • Graphic tees
  • Jean shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Flannel shirts
  • Corduroy jackets
  • Plaid jackets
  • Trench coat
  • Hoodies
  • Iron on patches
  • Backpacks
  • Lanyards (especially with badges)

Activities

  • Reading about conspiracy theories
  • Researching local mysteries
  • Long walks in the forest
  • Lying in wheat fields at night watching for aliens
  • Exploring haunted places
  • Writing short horror stories
  • Taking pictures with a Polaroid camera
  • Road trips
  • Camping
  • Ghost stories around the campfire
  • Watching vintage sci-fi /horror
  • Thrift store shopping
  • Searching garage sales for haunted items
  • Planning your wedding with Mothman
  • Taking walks in the woods (especially at night)
  • Being paranoid
  • Researching government cover-ups
  • Anything alien related
  • Watching documentaries
  • Exploring corn mazes
  • Setting up murder boards
  • Keeping notes of everything
  • Researching lost media
  • Staring longingly at aesthetically pleasing images of foggy woods
  • Hanging around diners(Specifically Denny's)
  • Browsing tumblr, deviant, amino, reddit, discord and other apps
  • Reading creepypastas and nosleeps
  • Searching for numbers stations on the radio


Cryptids

A few of the most popular cryptids amongst the cryptidcore folk include:

  • Mothman
  • Slenderman
  • Goatman
  • Dover Demon
  • Jersey Devil
  • Fresno Nightwalkers
  • The Owlman of Mawnan
  • The Loch Ness Monster (a.k.a. "Nessie")
  • Ogopogo
  • Flatwoods Monster
  • The Highgate Vampire
  • The Cactus Cat
  • The Honey island Swamp Monster
  • The Feu Follet
  • The Rougarou
  • Bigfoot (a.k.a the Sasquatch)
  • Bunyip
  • Kraken
  • Yeti
  • The Loveland Frog Man

Media

Art

  • Trevor Henderson
  • Simon Stålenhag

Podcasts

  • Alice Isn't Dead
  • King Falls AM
  • Old Gods of Appalachia
  • The Adventure Zone: Amnesty
  • The Left Right Game
  • The Magnus Archives
  • Welcome to Night Vale
  • Camp Monsters
  • Alien Theorists Theorizing

TV Shows

  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker (an originator of the aesthetic)
  • Stranger Things
  • Gravity Falls
  • The Secret Saturdays
  • Supernatural
  • Invader Zim
  • Twin Peaks
  • Midnight, Texas
  • X-Files
  • Eerie, Indiana
  • His Dark Materials
  • Expedition X
  • Dark
  • Over The Garden Wall
  • Squid Game
  • Scooby Doo TV Shows
  • Wellington Paranormal

Manga & Comics

  • Lalin's Curse
  • Higanbana no saku no yoru ni

YouTube Channels

  • Buzzfeed Unsolved
  • Jessii Vee
  • Jordan Persegati
  • Nexpo
  • The Proper People
  • Wendigoon
  • Strange Aeons
  • Inside A Mind
  • Fire of Learning
  • Dark Somnium
  • MrCreepyPasta
  • CreepyDemon
  • Blameitonjorge
  • Whang!
  • Barely Sociable
  • Scaretheatre
  • That Creepy Reading
  • Lazy Masquerade
  • Nick Crowley
  • Reignbot
  • NightMind
  • SPC Explained
  • Dr Bob
  • Detective Void

Video Games

  • Alan Wake
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine
  • Death Stranding
  • The Lurking Horror
  • Fran Bow
  • Little Missfortune
  • Little Nightmares
  • Sally Face
  • Night In The Woods
  • Kentucky Route Zero
  • Thimbleweed park
  • Firewatch
  • Oxenfree

Books & Movies

  • Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
  • Rules For Vanishing
  • The Owlman and Others
  • The Mortal Instruments
  • The Mothman Prophecies
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles
  • Coraline
  • Artemis Fowl
  • E.T
  • Scooby Doo Movies
  • I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Webseries

  • The Walten Files
  • Marble Hornets
  • Local58
  • The Mandela Catalogue
  • Omega Mart
  • Daisy Brown
  • Monument Mythos
  • Gemini Home Entertainment
  • The SMILE Tapes
  • No Through Road
  • this place is not happy

Other

Music

  • Cryptid Hunt - demo
  • Cryptid (mothman)
  • Mothman
  • The Conet project
  • Lemon Demon - Subtle Oddities
  • Lemon Demon - Touch-Tone Telephone
  • They Might Be Giants - Push Back The Hands
  • Penelope Scott - rät
  • spy?

Artists

  • Lemon Demon
  • Tally Hall
  • Mother Mother
  • Nick Seigel
  • Bear Ghost
  • Cavetown
  • Orkforge
  • The Bad First Impressions
  • MGMT
  • Bears in Trees
  • Averno
  • Amanda Palmer
  • Rob Cantor
  • penelope scott
  • Jonathan Coulton


Resources

External resources to learn more about the aesthetic

Articles

Playlists

Pinterest boards

Gallery

  1. Information about the use of fandom moodboards as a connection to Cryptidcore can be found here, in the Aesthetics Wiki Google Slide that provides visual examples and citations.
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20210628164931/https://on-a-crescendo.tumblr.com/post/93508017320/new-aesthetic-cryptidcore-kitschy-t-shirts-and
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