“Steampunk” (term coined by K. W. Jeter in a letter to Locus Magazine, in April 1987) is now a full-blown 21st Century subculture that embraces a vision of a futuristic, alternate-universe (perhaps post-apocalyptic) Victorian/Edwardian age featuring brass and copper steam-powered inventions that go far beyond 1800's technology. This world includes mechanical wonders such as gear-driven computers, modern dirigibles, modded clockwork, time machines and flying contraptions. Influenced by a range of literature from Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to Lemony Snicket and Alan Moore, steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk but tends to be less dystopian.
I do not pretend to be an authority on what is and what is not steampunk. Personally, I think anyone who pretends expertise is treading on dangerous ground. The steampunk subculture is an evolving entity, as open to definition and reinterpretation as slang, fashion and genre usually are. The images I created for this deck of tarot cards are merely my own personal vision, how steampunk speaks to me as an artist, where it intersects with myth and archetype. My wish and desire is that they will speak to you as well, opening a window onto another vista you may not have gazed upon before.
From where I stand, one of the important aspects of steampunk is the way it brings together the masculine and the feminine, the hard and the soft, yin and yang, east and west. As Jake von Slatt said, “the intersection of technology and romance.” It seems to lend itself quite well to the archetypes of the tarot, which seek to find that path at the balancing point of extremes. That place we find ourselves as a people, moving fast on a speeding locomotive toward an uncertain future.
Artist Charissa Drengsen of curly-cue design has been working as a freelance artist, designer and writer since 1989. She graduated from California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in 1999 with a BA in Integral Studies, after which she pursued an MFA in Transformative Arts at John F Kennedy University in Berkeley. Her work is influenced by post-modernism, theoretical quantum physics, vintage sensibilities, 21st Century sub-cultures, and a fascination with dystopia and decline of civilization.
Charissa has had her hands in many pies over the past several years, including: pin up photography, upcycled fashion, scenic painting for theatre, murals, mixed media fine art & assemblage, jewelry making, pop art, documenting decay, teaching, vintage photo restoration, soft sculpture, and playing with paper dolls. She makes her home in that hobo town Petaluma, California with her fiesty teenage daughter and a passle of quirky cats. The walls of her room are painted burnt orange.