What is Steampunk?


Steampunk combines Victorian and industrial aesthetics. It is a genre, style, artform, and aesthetic. You can see it in music, books, literature, art and fashion.

What is the Victorian era?

  • Each era was named after the English ruler reigning in that era. That is the formal reason each era has the name of a British ruler, however, historians sometimes classify eras as being longer or shorter because certain social and political attributes might extend longer or shorter to the ruler’s reign.
  • Georgian Era 1714-1830: There were three Georges during this era.
  • Regency Era 1810-1820: This was when King George III was unfit to rule and his son, the Prince Regent ruled in his stead. Informally people consider 1795-1837 to be the Regency Era.
  • Victorian Era 1837-1901: Queen Victoria’s reign.
  • The Edwardian Era is from 1901-1910, though some sources consider up to 1920 to have the sensibilities of the Edwardian Era and consider it such.

Is steampunk the Same as Victorian?

Usually steampunk has Victorian elements from that era but if someone wants to be historically accurate, they might dress in a costume or adopt an art style that is Victorian. If someone wants to combine that with industrial, mechanical, or retrofuturism elements, that will make it steampunk

Can you just glue a gear on it and call it steampunk?

Technically, no. Gears and rivets by themselves are industrial. Just lace, ruffles, and corsets are Victorian, Neo-Victorian. It takes a combination to truly make it steampunk–which isn’t to say you can’t just glue a gear on something for visual reasons.

In the image below, it shows a necklace I created with gears I wire wrapped. I added a fairy as the final touch, combining the mechanical elements of industrialism with a  fantasy element to give it a gaslamp fantasy feel. What do you get when you combine fairies and steampunk? Television series like Carnival Row.