By Ida Mary Walker Larsen

Who are you?

I’m a steampunk/goth graphic designing, disability campaigning, animal welfare working, accountant loving, craft mad lunatic. With OCD and a love of chaos, and no, I don’t know how that works either.

…Go on?

Phantom: phan·tom (fan′təm)
Something that exists only in the mind; illusion
Siren: si·ren (sahy-ruh)
Classical Mythology; one of several sea nymphs, part woman and part bird, who lure mariners to destruction by their seductive singing.

Consider this an exploration of pseudo-historical temptation, if you will. Consider it a collection of delectable creations, and a delightful destruction of the Victorian era within accounts and records. After all, the mind and the hand can be as powerful as history itself…

I require more on the subject of art…

My style developed during a period of isolation from the world of art and from the internet. Following my degree in Art History (which successfully stuffed my head full of historical goodies) I spent 6 months in a rural town with an old iMac and a collection of design programs that I did not know how to use. So I took it upon myself to find a way of using them to create something that appealed to me.

What are your methods of choice?

I work almost entirely in Photoshop, which is apparently unusual for someone who relies heavily on linework, but it is more intuitive that Illustrator or Gimp, and as such, has become the program with which I am most comfortable. Over recent years I have developed a set of rules and habits for my work, such as specific brush sizes for specific lines and rules for shading and texture, which combine it create the recognisable style.

I’ve just upgraded to Creative Suite 5 which is something of a culture shock after 6 years of running CS2 on an ancient iMac G4. I work exclusively with the aid of a Wacom tablet, I don’t think I even know how to use a mouse anymore.

…and your influences?

The starting point was probably my overwhelming desire to prove to my A-Level art teachers that black linework had a valid place as a legitimate artistic style. This desire drove me towards the appropriation of the Art Nouveau style, but it wasn’t until I became aware of Steampunk as a genre that I really found my artistic niche. Although I would have described my taste in fashion and music as decidedly gothic, this did not translate all that successfully into an artistic style that was influenced by light and soft colour palettes. Whilst Steampunk has its share of darkness and grime, it also has a scope for a wider palette and a greater opportunity to tap into my historical interests.

To me the combination of Steampunk and Art Nouveau is a natural one. Steampunk is firmly embedded in a rather generalised form of Victoriana. For many Steampunks it seems to be enough to add bustles, bloomers, goggles and gears to modern art forms, but the Victorian era was the origin of a number of ground-breaking schools of art. Why not use those schools of art in the same way that Steampunk authors use the linguistic style of the period? Art Nouveau is a purely aesthetic form of art that lends itself well to a style and genre like Steampunk, which so far seems to be more about visual impact than deeply symbolic statements. It also represented a move towards advertising as a form of artistic expression and the concept that one could have as much selling impact with images as with words.

Final word, for now?

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard. Be evil.

Publications –
Irregular Magazine – issue 2 cover, issue 3 interview
Abney Park’s Airship Pirates RPG Book – illustration
The Lyrics of Abney Park Book – illustration
Bound Lilies by Nico Murray – cover design

Exhibitions –
Bradford Industrial Museum Steampunk Exhibition
Leek Steampunk & Victoriana Exhibition
Decatur Steampunk Art Show


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