Thursday, February 16, 2012

Art Challenge: Japan

In my opinion Japan is the epitome of a steampunk country- once they got ahold of their first pieces of steam and industrial technology, they put their culture of passionate practice to work and in a few short decade exploded into a superpower. While much of the traditional culture fell by the wayside, they still went forth into the modern world with a style all their own. What do you see when you think steampunk Japan? Well, let's see what this week's artists envisioned from the Land of the Rising Sun.

HEY THERE, DISCLAIMER: Remember, this is someone else's work- so if you MUST link to show your pals, please either A. Go to the artist's website and ask permission. or B. Link back to the original artist (such as the case of tumblr or twitter). And please visit these fine folks' deviantarts or personal webpages- give them some likes, some praise, hell- give them a commission if you're able! (Because if there's one thing we artist types like, it's doing what we love AND getting paid to for it!)

Artist: Kallen

Artist's Comments: Japan reopened it's borders to the Western world in the late Victorian era, which makes it a prime candidate for some really wonderful mish-mash costumes full of kimono silk and bustles, but I wanted to maintain the sort of zen simplicity that Westerners tend to associate with East Asian cultures . (Though, from personal experience, I can tell you that in real life "zen" is an ideal more than it's an actuality--their apartments get just as cluttered as ours!)
In the end, I gave her a Gibson Girl hairstyle (with clock hands for hairpins) rather than a more traditional geisha hairstyle, and shortened her kimono into something more like a polonaise over a scarlet walking skirt and added some lace trim, with a corset in place of an obi. What WOULD have been the obi bow was lowered into something more like a super-structured bustle. Her shamisen I wanted to keep simple, but it definitely needed a touch of brass, and clawed feet seemed like too much fun to pass up. ^___^
Miss K's Comments: First of all, extra gold star for you because you've submitted a piece every single week. Second of all, this is a gorgeous, clean, subtle piece. You really have to study it to understand all of the marriages of East and West and I like the autumnal sort of color scheme.

Artist: Miss Write

Artist's Comments: Here is my submission for Steampunk Japan. She is a clockwork Meiji geisha. I did cheat a little and traced the geisha's form, but added all the details.
Miss K's Comments: A fine effort, Miss Write. The posture looks very comfortable (something I can never seem to get down, myself) and the pattern on the obi looks almost block printed with how you drew it. Keep them coming!

Artist: Purple Kappa

Artist's Comments: Someone gave me the Folkwear pattern for Japanese Field Clothing so I started working with that. During the Meiji restoration, the ease of travel restrictions resulted in western tourists. Interest in natural sciences was popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, so I combined the two and became a westerner traveling in Japan, researching the flora and fauna. (Check out Purple Kappa's blog entry for more details, including her initial sketches and how she created her outfit)

Miss K's Comments: You look darling in your ensemble! And I took great zeal in reading how you came up with your concept (which isn't as bad as you think it is) and the accessories you chose. I'd like to see more photos of you wearing it.

Artist: Anna/Ribaki

Artist's Comments: The first lady, the old ma'am, is from India. She's somewhat steampunkish with the hand and all, but yeah... I think she's works with electonics and stuff, and I promise, she has one hell of a personality.
The second one is not so steampunk, but she was really so much fun to draw. I got really inspired by the Maghreb!
The last one is japanese, as you can see, and has metal legs. So I think that counts for steampunk, don't you?

Miss K's Comments: I love your style. I actually had to double-check your Deviantart label because I didn't believe that it was digital- it looks so much like old-fashioned pen and ink illustrations. I also can't get over how delicate and.. well... PERFECT your Japanese drawing's face looks. (Also, I reaaally don't want to mess with your Indian woman.)
Artist: Chelsea Gould

Artist's Comments: So, I decided to go with a being of Japanese legend, the ningyo (or the Japanese version of mermaid) and another icon of that region, the koi. Both have been properly steampunked, the ningyo given a prosthetic tailfin and the koi entirely functioning from clockwork and such. Took me three days to complete, though I mostly blame drawing an insane amount of scales on that mer-tail. NEVER AGAIN.
Miss K's Comments: Holy Crap. Do all of yourselves a favor and ZOOM IN AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN to see all of the details that Chelsea's put into this piece. The mechanical koi, the ninyo's eyes, the individual scales on the prosthetic tail. Amazing piece!

Artist: Miss Kagashi

Artist's Comments: I've had this concept in my head for a while. So I dreamed up a squadron of young, unmarried women (since they're so damned lightweight) that glide on aerial missions for the Emperor called the Koumori Ryodan (Bat Brigade, to describe the shape of their 'wings').  The mon on this girl's (I've taken to calling her Kaori) kimono is the seal of Emperor Meiji.

Excellent work this week, ladies- I'm loving the variety of media an styles we're getting. So, what's on the docket for next week, marking our first month of challenges? Well, how about something near and dear to many a steampunk's heart:

Sorry Abney Park, but I grew up in the 90s, so this is the first Airship Pirate I knew of.

Airship Pirates. Love 'em or (in my case) hate 'em- there's no getting rid of these scum of the skies. But piracy wasn't limited to Western Europe and North America, nono, far from it! For next week's challenge I'd like so see or read about airship pirates from around the world. Scallywags from Sumatra? Arr! Corsairs of the Catatolia? Aye, aye! The Last Saskatchewan Pirates? You betcha, fella! 

Have fun, be creative, and don't get caught!


  1. Ahhh! The pretty geishas! <3 I was hoping there would be some of those posted (I have a special love for them indeed).

    And AIRSHIP PIRATES you say? ...This will be most appropriate. Haha!

  2. Holy TaleSpin, it's my childhood! :O In retrospect, those were probably my first airship pirates, too, though I honestly had forgotten all about went off the air when I was just four. :)

    And, I just had a great idea for this next challenge, so now I'm all psyched for it! ^___^

  3. Very nice piece! I'm looking forward to seeing your drawing come to reality.

  4. Beautiful stuff. These contests really make me wish I could draw!

  5. That Bat Brigade wingsuit is delightful. Glad to finally see it :-)


    My submission for the Airship Pirates challenge. :) Can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

  7. Miss Kagashi's facination is absolutely great.Her facination of culter and traditional dress i like most.

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