The New Face of Steampunk
By Autumn Steam
I was raised in a very creative and inspiring household. My dad is a musician and worked for himself and my mom home schooled my brother and I while also working for herself. We were involved in the arts growing up which helped me decide to become an artist myself. I have always had a talent and drive to create things and I am a quick learner. Those talents have driven me to teach myself almost every skill I have. After being accepted into the program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I decided the fashion industry was too cut throat for me as I could not handle criticism and took it too personally.
I decided instead to pursue a Business Administration degree with a double minor in Economics and Marketing. I got my Bachelors degree in three years and moved on to a Masters in Applied Economics and a Masters in Economic History of Energy, neither of which were completed because my husband, Andrew and I moved and started a family.
In 2003, while I was working on my Masters degree in Jacksonville, Florida I started my first photography business. This was my first true art form that still has a special place in my heart. My Mom was always into photography and took great photos of my brother and I when we were kids. I borrowed her 35mm cameras when I was 13 and started taking pictures. During those years I traveled to a few different countries to take photographs and as a result they were show in several galleries in Florida. To pay for the art I photographed weddings. I loved doing weddings but they were always such hard work.
I love photography, but I am not one of those rigid photographers that think film is the only way. I am enamored with the digital era and the filters and graphic capabilities that come along with photo editing now.
At twelve years old, I was making jewelry and by the age of fourteen, I started designing and making all of my formal wear for weddings, Christmas events, prom and other special events. It always amazed my Grandmothers and Mom that I could just cut the fabric with out a pattern and it would turn out beautifully. By the time I turned 18, I was helping my local community theater make costumes for their plays. And I rarely sewed with a pattern, I would just cut the fabric to what I saw in my head.
These days if something interests me I get a bunch of books on it or watch as many YouTube videos as I can then I buy all the tools and get to work. I have tried my hand at everything from weaving to welding and am good at all of it. What amazes me is how most skills are interchangeable and it really takes an eye for design to ensure everything come together. All of these skills have grown and developed over the years to culminate into what I'm doing today.
[ STEAMPUNK EXPLAINED ]
Steampunk is the genre my art has always had a place in, I just had not realized it. My mediums have always been old scrap or what most people would think of as trash. When my friend, Mac McGowan, introduced me to Steampunk as a Neo-Victorian industrial futurism, I was intrigued. I met Mac at the first Emerge I showed in and was instantly drawn to the man in the top hat that looked so theatrical and interesting. We got to know each other over the next few months and he encouraged me to embrace the designs of steampunk. For me Steampunk is an alternate history to the Victorian era that we can recreate now. What if the ornate Victorian age had the technology of today or even the future? We would have people wearing corsets and top hats while riding on airships to the steam powered floating city all while checking their beautifully encased version of a smart phone. It is a fantasy but such a beautiful and versatile one. I believe Steampunk is still being developed and I am helping define it with my art.
[ STEAMPUNK BY DESIGN ]
The design inspiration for my gadgets and books is my huge stash of supplies. I never go into a project with a plan and can only create when I am surrounded by my little metal bits and pieces, books from the early 1900's and by leather working supplies. My stash looks like a pile of junk that should be tossed in the garbage but I see so much potential in those things. Spending days and weeks finding the perfect piece to accent a journal or gadget, I generally use what I have and when its gone I can't get another one. That is what makes my pieces so unique and hard to
After discovering the Steampunk genre I knew it was a perfect fit for my vision as a fashion designer. I have always wanted to create fantastical, industrial, beautiful pieces of wearable art and now have the parameters to do that. I started creating Steampunk clothing for our family because we needed something to wear to the Steampunk conventions. We got so many compliments I decided to make a line. Most of 2011 was focused on my Steampunk
I managed to do 5 fashion shows this year. Wild Wild West Con in Arizona, Silverton Ladies Night Out at the Oregon Gardens, RAW Natural Born Artists in Portland, Flux Magazine premier at the University of Oregon and Gear Con in Portland. They were all put together in a massive team effort by my talented models, a DJ friend who mixed the catwalk music and some very talented hair and makeup artists. Most of the audiences loved the show although as Avant-garde goes some people did not really understand it. My favorite show was the Flux Magazine premier although I loved working with the models at RAW.
I have shown my work in three gallery settings; at Emerge Oregon Art Series, the Timeless Talismen Gallery in Salem and the gallery at Steamcon III in Seattle.
I have found it easier to market my art by relying on social networking like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Etsy, Blogger, and Kimtag. I have managed to work the system into making it so Autumn Steam is the first thing that pops up on a search on Google as well. I stopped participating in the Salem Saturday Market over a year ago. I now only participate in Emerge Underground, gallery shows and Steampunk events. I am really trying to push my online presence so I don't have to travel as much. Between booth fees for the event and staying out of town it is becoming more expensive to do a show. We rarely make our money back at any show. Our online presence is moving much faster for us.
In the next five years my designs will evolve and grow as my interest do. I am hoping to have more time when my kids go off to school to really concentrate on my work. I have to say I am never short on ideas, just time. I would love to be recognized worldwide for my art and hopefully will have traveled to Asia to bring my fashion and vision there. My husband/collaborator and I are coming up with a plan now to get us on that side of the world!