Gothic Cross Tattoos

Updated on March 14, 2020
MakinBacon profile image

I love tattoos and have been writing about the topic for several years.

Gothic, Celtic, Tribal Crosses

Gothic cross tattoos are a fantastic choice for a tattoo, as the variety to choose from is seemingly infinite, especially when you add the minute details so prevalent in Gothic design.

For cross tattoos, Gothic crosses are the most popular, although Celtic and tribal crosses also play a big part in the genre.

You can often find hybrids of the three, with Celtic and Gothic being blended together, as well as tribal designs included with the other two.

Outside of these three choices, there aren't many more options, although some 3-D crosses and Christian crosses include different designs.

Sometimes when looking at cross designs, it seems some of the artists do not make a conscious decision to label the cross a specific theme because many influences will be apparent in one tattoo.

Identifying Which Cross Design Is Which

Obviously there are always exceptions to a general rule, but, overall, it's not too difficult to identify the elements of a Gothic, Celtic, or tribal design.

Celtic designs have a certain look that isn't hard to identify. Interlaced rope patterns are a distinguishing feature.

Tribal designs are even easier to identify, with thick black lines tracing curved, serrated shapes. Even when they include a variety of other elements, once you know what tribal designs look like, they're easy to recognize. Gothic designs are the same way.

The reason I don't get into it too specifically is each genre has a lot of variety, although the foundation of each design remains the same.

It's one of those things where it's easier to show—which we'll do in this article—than tell.


Gothic crosses include the very recognizable elements of Gothic design in general.

They include the pointy lines and ends we're all familiar with, as well as that medieval, religious look most of us have seen in period art.

Foot Gothic Cross Tattoo

As I mentioned, it's almost impossible to separate the styles intermingling in many tattoo crosses, but the one below is pretty close to what I would consider a pure Gothic tattoo. It looks really good in my view.

The lines, circles, and pointed edges all add to the Gothic look.

Gothic Back Tattoo

This is a unique Gothic back tattoo, this time with more curved lines than the prior tattoo. Interestingly, this design chose an under-the-skin look. That can be compelling at times, but this cross tattoo is very well done, and I would have liked to see it without what I consider the interference of the skin.

Gothic Hybrids: Tribal, Gothic Cross Tattoo

Below is a good example of a combination of tribal and Gothic cross design. The darker areas are the tribal design, with the cross being a more subtle Gothic design. I do like the inner shading of the cross, but the contrast in colors seems to be a little too much. It would have looked better with less of a contrast between shades.

Celtic, Gothic Cross

In the example below, I think the artist may not have deliberately gone about designing a Celtic-Gothic cross combination.

The major way to identify the Celtic element is the interlaced lines within the cross. The dark, pointed ends of the cross are the Gothic influence.

The variety of Gothic-influenced crosses are enormous. And, because of the tendency of artists to design crosses drawing from a combination of influences, it's difficult to point to a cross solely based upon the Gothic genre.

But as you can see, every one of these crosses includes Gothic elements, and it has become more a question of how much of that influence you want in a tattoo design, rather than whether it's a pure Gothic design any longer.

Either way, they are a great choice if you're looking for a compelling tattoo.

© 2012 MakinBacon


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