Breakin' The Law: Using Bleeding Cowboys

Bleeding Cowboys has been one of the most popular grunge fonts of the last couple of years. It’s a free font from and is easily available to any designer or “amateur designer” out there. Sadly, this font with so much promise has become, though no fault of the creator, the new Papyrus. Its true that it is way over used, though I feel the problem with most applications of it is that its not used in the right way or for the right project. That being the fault of those “amateur designers”.

The number one rule in typography is: don’t settle for what the font gives you. That’s especially true for a lot of grunge fonts. You should use them as a foundation to build upon manipulating size, weight, kerning, etc. how this font gets used most of the time is people wanting to type a name out, select the font, and call it finished. For shame.

I’ve selected 5 examples of this font being used in a way that it should be used. (Well at least I feel it works). Why only 5 examples? Because as far as I know, there are only 5 good examples in existence. Which is the inspiration for this article. That rebellious side of me that always says “you’re not supposed to do that, but dammit I’m going to make it work!” wants to save this fonts reputation and hopefully inspire others to do what is right with Bleeding Cowboys and not have it go the way of Papyrus, Rosewood, and Times new Roman.

In this example of Cabo Wabo tequila from, you will see the first rule of typography put to use. The designer never settled for what the font was, but only took what was needed. What makes this font so recognizable and often despised and loved are the whips and splats on the letters. But the true strength of the font is the western serif letterform itself. A nice sans serif font also balances it

Another example from Again you see the designer cutting off unnecessary whips and splats and letting the letterform really come through. They also balanced it with another grunge, though less intense, font. All three bottles share a nice rusty, grungy, color palette, which is another thing to keep in mind. You shouldn’t use this font with pastels or rainbow colors. If you’re going to go grunge, you have to go all the way. Nirvana > Bush

Again, notice the color palette. And for the third time, we’re not settling for the font right out of the box. (or would it be folder?) There’s just enough crazy grunginess to it to make it noticeable and fill some negative space. This one uses a serif font to balance the rest of the text. So in our third example, we see a third different type of font being used for balance and they all work well.

Master card
Why master card is using this, I don’t know. I suppose major corporations like getting in on the trends from time to time too. (even David Carson did an ad for Western Union in the 90s) but focusing on the pure aesthetics of this, it’s following the rules of the other examples. Not over done, good color selection, balanced by another font, and using the capital letters.

Okay, shameless self promotion here, but hey, its my blog! After seeing the previous four, there should be no surprises about the use of this one. My whole personal identity is centered on an old west outlaw theme. I think this is the perfect choice of font for myself. I know what you’re thinking; “it’s the new papyrus why would you use this for your own logo omg!” well, remember that thing I said about “knowing im not supposed to do this but dammit im going to make it work anyway!” Yea that also played a part of the font choice for myself. I guess if your going to be an “outlaw” you’ve got to break some rules, right?