Steampunk – you may have heard the term before and you may not have, but you’ve likely seen things that fall into the category without even knowing it. While not officially of the Steampunk realm – think about the visual imagery of Hellboy II: The Golden Army or The Golden Compass and you’ll start to get an idea of the aesthetic principles. Inspired by the Victoria era, where spring and steam-propelled items were all the rage, steampunk combines elements of Victorian, Edwardian, and the Industrial Revolution eras.
We have also written a list of the best steampunk websites.
H.G. Wells is largely credited as being the original inspiration, and the subgenre was well established by 1990, with the Gibson and Sterling novel The Difference Engine. Steampunk is, in a nutshell, a form of science fiction, but also a way of life for many people. It is not only an idea – it is a visual aesthetic principle that results in some wonderfully bizarre and beautiful objects, outfits, and art.
Take for instance this working piece of artwork by Tim Wetherell. Created for The National Science and Technology center in Australia, Wetherell’s piece represents Isaac Newton’s theory of a Clockwork Universe – one where the universe is a perfect clock, geared by physics, where God winds the clock to set it in motion. The elements of the artistic representation combine many elements of steampunk aesthetic – working gears, burnished metal, and working clocks.
Not only is steampunk an aesthetic, but as we mentioned before it is a way of life. People dress in what can be termed as “Proto-Victorian” clothing, complete with waistcoats, bustles, corsets, buttoned boots, and more. Added to these Victorian or Edwardian pieces are often things like goggles, metal headpieces, armpieces, and more. People often decorate their homes with clockwork-type gadgets, Victorian style furniture.
Sometimes they decorate their food that way – like the wedding cake you see above.
This is an example of a laptop that someone modified using the steampunk trademarks. A similar laptop was modified by a man named Richard Nagy, who was mentioned in a 2007 article in Newsweek as someone who was trying to make a living out of turning run-of-the mill items into steampunk treasures.
This is a Nerf gun modified to fit into the steampunk world – notice the leather on the handle, the color of the gun, and the extra bits and pieces that make it so very unique.
An example of steampunk fashion.
And, a little steampunk humor.