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Howdy Cowboy, The Gothic Western Aesthetic Is Here

Saddle up! 2024 is the year that the Gothic Western aesthetic filters through into the tattoo world. Be inspired by these gothic Western tattoos

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Welcome to the era of the gothic cowboy. If you are still getting familiar with this concept, let us walk you through the anatomy of this trend. In the words of Beyoncé, “This ain’t Texas, ain’t no hold’em”. Gone are the blue jeans and the natural colors. The gothic Western aesthetic draws inspiration from the supernatural Wild West incorporating an all-black look with punk accents such as fishnets under fringe, facial piercings, skull motifs, and studded collars. While this dark trend is taking over the runways, there is also a serious influence on tattoo trends.

What Is The Gothic Western Aesthetic?

While Google has reported a 900% increase in searches for this term and Pinterest named it an important trend to watch in their eighth annual trend report, this style is not as new as you may think. Fans of Westworld, Penny Dreadful, or Stephen King’s The Dark Tower will already be familiar with the world of the desert ranger turned occult or ranch wranglers who moonlight as tarot readers. In fashion, Hedi Slimane’s stint at Saint Laurent saw him dabble in the gothic Western aesthetic incorporating wide-brimmed fedoras, leather fringing, and silver curio into his SS13 collection. Today, it continues to be a wild ride with Virginie Viard’s Chanel FW22/23 runway show showing us that the gothic Western aesthetic is not dead.

What Does This Mean For Cowboy Aesthetic Tattoo Art?

The gothic Western aesthetic is still filtering through to the world of tattoos but it is gaining huge traction on social platforms like TikTok. While regular cowboy tattoos may consist of cowboy boots, a sheriff star, or a cowboy on a horse, the gothic versions are a whole lot darker in style. Popular motifs include witchy cowgirls, human skulls wearing cowboy hats, bull skulls and horns, revolvers, thorny roses, and an eagle with a skull between its claws flying through a desert of cacti. There is no strict rule dictating this style, but the darker the design, the better.

Tempted to Try the Western Gothic Aesthetic For Your Next (Or First) Ink?

If you are inspired by the likes of Myles Shear, music manager to Kygo, and his famous gothic cowboy-inspired tattoo of a cowboy skull located on his upper arm, read on. These designs are the epitome of the gothic Western aesthetic. Hold on to your hat, it is going to be a wild ride.

Realistic Cowboy Skulls

There is no better tattoo for the gothic cowboy aesthetic than a simple but powerful skull and cowboy hat. Dr Woo is the artist behind this design worn by Myles Shear. The black and grey micro realism style adds to this design’s gothic allure creating a timeless tattoo that is also bang on trend.

Traditional Gothic Cowboy Skulls

Another way to wear this popular design is by opting for the blackwork tattoo style. Tattoos that look like engravings add an old-world element to Western designs. Elements like the snake and the roses add an extra layer to the skull’s deeply gothic appearance. Since this design is medium-sized, it would look great on the calf or the shoulder.

Lonesome Dove-Inspired Tattoos

Draw inspiration from your favorite Westerns and recreate iconic scenes that add a gothic touch to your ink. The Wild West is tainted by death so there are plenty of options to choose from. This iconic day of rest scene from Lonesome Dove certainly captures the essence of the gothic Western aesthetic.

Goth Cowgirl Aesthetic Tattoos

For a rootin' and tootin’ ink, delve into the world of cowgirls. A gothic, illustrative portrait-style tattoo of a cowgirl’s face, shaded by her stetson and complete with a bandana is a great way to add a feminine touch to this trend. Plus, the versatility of this Western gothic cowgirl design means that it can be placed almost anywhere.

Desert Skeleton Tattoos

The United States is home to incredible natural landscapes that deserve to be celebrated in tattoo form. Yet, although nature tattoos are also a big trend at the moment, it is time to venture deep into the underworld and show the dark side of the Wild West. A nature scene showing the arid conditions of America’s West complete with bull skulls, saguaro cactus, and the skeletal remains of other typical animals is a wonderful way to incorporate the gothic Western aesthetic into your ink.

Goth Cowboy Aesthetic Small Horseshoe Tattoos

If you are stuck for space or want a subtle ink that nods to the gothic Western aesthetic, then an ornate, small, fine-line horseshoe tattoo is a great option. A traditional motif within Western goth cowboy culture, the horseshoe is also a symbol of good luck. Wear this ink with pride and place it on the hands, fingers, or wrist for all to see.

Gothic Western Aesthetic Scorpion Tattoos

In many cultures, scorpions are symbols of death making them an ideal subject for a goth tattoo. They are also solitary beings and can survive the extreme climate of the Wild West. Their venom can kill, causing them to be widely feared by cowboys across the desert. Opt for a simple, fine-line style or if you are still on the fence, opt for a temporary version first, such as this one from Little Tattoos.

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