The Steampunk Aesthetic


The Aesthetic that I have chosen to explore is Steampunk. The idea of Steampunk is similar to cyberpunk and the goal is to show modern technology in the form of 19th century industrial machinery and exposed gears. Steampunk was first used in the 1980’s and the term  was first coined by K. W. Jeter when trying to describe his works of writing. Following the coining of the term, Steampunk became more popular in books and movies such as the “The Difference Engine”, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. This book was written in the 1990’s and brought popularity to the genre in writing.

The Difference Engine, by Rez Studio [1]

A movie that helped to popularize the idea of Steampunk was Journey to the Center of the Earth. The submarine used in the movie was based on a Steampunk Aesthetic, as was much of the older technology seen in the movie.

Nautilus, by Miles Teves [2]

After Steampunk gained popularity in both writing and movies it began to gain popularity in both art and decoration. Many places began to incorporate Steampunk into the design of buildings, the two following pictures show the incorporation of Steampunk into the design of the buildings. The first picture is a Paris Metro Station and the second picture is the Truth Coffee Cafe.

Metro Station in Paris, Photo by Cramos [3]

Truth Coffee Cafe, Photo by Shanna Jones [4]


Steampunk has now become more popular in both fashion and cosplay. The fashion is based off of 1850’s Victorian England with modern technology such as cell phones and guns. The modern technology is then changed to give the appearance of objects from that time.

Steampunk Outfit, by Alexander Schlesier [5]

As Steampunk has gained popularity it has become more common to see in themes and designs.


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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Stephen Chamot
    January 31, 2021 11:19 pm

    I really liked your take on the steampunk aesthetic and how it is incorporated into buildings and designs. I think that it is fascinating that it became a thing because of fiction. How do you think that the fictional aspect has affected the aesthetic as opposed to most aesthetics that exist solely in the “real” world?

    • Hi Stephen! I am glad that you liked the post. I think that the fictional aspect largely played a role into the design of the aesthetic. I think this is because this aesthetic was more “out of the ordinary” and was mot at all related to any aesthetics at that time. I think that being in fiction allowed for more creativity when the aesthetic was first used.

  • Michael Burns
    January 29, 2021 3:46 pm

    Hey Ryan, the Steampunk Aesthetic is so cool! If I were to summarize it, I would say that the Steampunk Aesthetic merges futuristic technology with an Old-Fashioned look. This inherently makes the subject look highly complex and detail oriented. I really like how you included images of real world subjects and illustrations, of which both yield amazing artistic pieces. I think it could be interesting to hear where you think this aesthetic is going in the future. This wasn’t in the assignment’s prompt but I wonder if the aesthetic will keep inspiration from the same time period of evolve itself. Good work!

    • Hi Michael! I think it may become more apparent in the future as this aesthetic is still becoming more popular. I also think that it will keep the same inspiration as the aesthetic is well known now and has that distinct look. It may evolve in the future but I do not think that it will happen anytime soon.


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