THE ART OF STEAMPUNK by Art Donovan
Fox Chapel Publishing, 2011, 128 pages, 978-1565235731, Paperback, $24.95
When I first saw the listing for The Art of Steampunk on NetGalley, I thought to myself, well there’s something that might interest my readers. After all, I read and review a fair amount in the steampunk genre. Featuring an art compilation of steampunk designs is only a logical next step, particularly since I’m an enormous fan of art books.
The Art of Steampunk compiles the work of seventeen artists whose creations were originally displayed at Oxford University’s Museum of the History of Science during a steampunk exhibition. Art Donovan, the author, acted as the curator.
To be honest, there’s not much for me to say about this book except wow. It’s absolutely gorgeous, from the layouts, to the backgrounds, to the images themselves. Even the text is delightfully appropriate to the subject matter. Fox Chapel’s production team has done an amazing job of presenting this collection in the most visually appealing way possible.
Of course, that wouldn’t mean anything if the featured projects didn’t live up to expectation. But oh, do they. These artists are truly talented. The objects they create are detailed and beautiful. But not only that—many of them are functional. Within these pages you’ll find computers, watches, and light fixtures—even a rubber band launcher—all outfitted in steampunk style and completely usable.
I’d like to claim that I have a favorite piece from this book—or even a favorite artist. But the truth is, there’s so much to enjoy, and so many remarkable creations, that I can’t single out a particular one (or two or three). Though I do have a fondness for Daniel Proulx’s brass insect sculptures and Ian Crichton’s mp3 and camera cases, I would say that every artist in this collection has produced at least one thing that truly impresses me.
People who already enjoy steampunk will love flipping through this book and lingering over each lovely object. As for those who haven’t been introduced to the genre before, I can’t imagine that this book will fail to be intriguing. The aesthetics alone are well worth a few minutes of browsing, and should that be enough to make new readers ask “What is this?” they can flip to the steampunk primer at the beginning of the book.
The Art of Steampunk won’t be released until August, which means that everyone has time to gather up a few dollars and shove them into a piggy bank. And you definitely should—it will be well worth it.