Rebecca Epp

What is Steampunk?


Steampunk is a design style inspired by Victorian-era industrialism. It is a mix of the old and the new, futurism meets the past. Science fiction author K.W. Jeter is created the term steampunk in 1987 to describe a style of fantasy fiction that featured Victorian technology, especially technology powered by steam.

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a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
“if you like steampunk, this is a great book for you”
a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.
“the essence of steampunk is homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist”.

Steampunk fashion is primarily influenced by the fashion of the mid-19th century. For women, this fashion was often shown by wearing long, flowing dresses, goggles, corsets, and regal jacket bodices. Goggles serve many purposes in the world of steampunk such as keeping the wind on an airship from drying out your eyes, protecting the mad scientist from dangerous chemicals, and protection from sparks, and hot steam in the lab or boiler room. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as steam cannons, lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Steampunk is often characterized by the setting of the story and inventions that are fantastical and magical. Steampunk uses a lot of visual descriptions, especially when it comes to machinery and fashion. Oftentimes, a lot of description will go into how a machine works.

Different Steampunk Styles

There are many different forms of steampunk style. From Steamgoth to DieselPunk, steampunk seems to mesh week with many different genres.

Steampunk fashion is a subgenre of the steampunk movement in science fiction. It is a mixture of the Victorian era’s romantic view of science in literature and elements from the Industrial Revolution in Europe during the 1800s. The fashion is designed with a post-apocalyptic era in mind. Steampunk fashion consists of clothing, hairstyling, jewelry, body modification, and make-up. More modern ideals of steampunk can include t-shirts with a variety of designs or jeans being accessorized with belts and gun holsters.

Dieselpunk is a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction similar to steampunk or cyberpunk that combines the aesthetics of the diesel-based technology of the interwar period through to the 1950s with retro-futuristic technology and postmodern sensibilities. If you have played the game Bioshock, you might recognize this as dieselpunk.  Bioshock is what is usually referred to as dieselpunk; it is not a Victorian/Gilded Age setting with anachronistic technology, it is the 1920s/1930s setting with anachronistic technology.

Steamgoth is exactly what it sounds like. A mixture of steampunk style along with a gothic twist. I make many of my jewelry pieces in this style because it is my favorite! Gothic and Steampunk are both Victorian in style but the difference is that Gothic tends to be darker and more romanticized, whereas Steampunk is often lighter, more playful, and more adventurous.

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a “combination of lowlife and high tech”, featuring futuristic technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with societal collapse, dystopia or decay. To summarize, the cyberpunk aesthetic combines 40s film noir fashion, gothic styles of the 90s, military uniforms and gear, and more experimental and futuristic cybernetic details. While the cyberpunk look might seem incredibly unique, its essence is composed of many incredibly varied sources. There is also a video game called Cyberpunk 2077 which is set in this style. Also the Mad Max movies are this dystopian style.

Cybergoth is a subculture that derives from elements of goth, raver, rivethead, and cyberpunk fashion. Opinion differs as to whether cybergoth has the requisite complexity to constitute a subculture, with some commentators suggesting that it is no more than a small aesthetic variation on cyberpunk or raver fashion.

As you can see, Steampunk is not a solo category at all which is why I make several different types of jewelry in many different styles. I have coined the phrase “Whimsical Steampunk” as my personal style since 2014. Steampunk has grown in the world and more people know what it is now than they did when I first started making my jewelry. Some people will tell me that it isn’t the typical steampunk style. Of course, it isn’t. It’s because I created my own personal style of wearable art. I’m proud to have become a world-famous steampunk artist and love being a part of this unique community.

Even our town, Eureka Springs, Arkansas is getting into the Steampunk Spirit for Mardi Gras this year! Read more about it HERE
This fundraiser helps raise money forThe Eureka Springs Museum


Rebecca Epp is the owner and designer/artist at The Steampunk Buddha and makes custom handmade, Whimsical Steampunk Jewelry and Custom Artwork in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.