Steampunk Geisha

Digital Painting

At its core, steampunk is an exploration of what might have been had steam-power continued to thrive. Inspired by HP Lovecraft and the excitement of the industrial revolution in Britain, this costuming genre consists mainly of Victorian garb mixed with inventive”steam-powered” props. But what might have happened elsewhere in the world? For instance, what if some of these fantastical inventions had made it over to Japan? How would their culture adopt and incorporate the technology?


That question became the inspiration behind “Steampunk Geisha.” I am no expert on Japan at the turn of the century, but I have done my best to research and understand enough to be true to their culture. For instance, the geisha weirs no jewelry on her wrists or neck, and only adorns her hair with a mechanical lotus, gears, and chains. Her obi (the sash around her waist), is inspired by a mix of Japanse fans and puzzle boxes. In real life, the obi was tied in a complex knot that only skilled patrons could untie. That idea makes its way into the concept of a mechanical lotus puzzle that must be precisely twisted and turned to unlock.

Maikos (young geishas in training), would wear this white makeup, with a sensual hint of skin showing around their hairline and down the back of their neck. I’ve expanded this, and transformed the pattern normally seen on the neck into a gear design. The addition of the gear  pattern around the eye was so pretty, I just couldn’t resist.