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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cogs and Ink: Steampunk Tattoo Designs that Wow

By Marc in Gadgets & Geek Art, Technology & Futurism

Many think steampunk is a fad that will flare up and burn itself out quickly, as most fads do. If steampunk fans’ willingness to permanently ink themselves with steampunk themed tattoos is any indication, the appeal of steampunk will be lasting a lot longer than expected. From the simplest clockwork and gears, to complex depictions of Victorian era mecha, steampunk tattoos run the gamut from pretty decorations to mobile masterpieces. Here are 9 of the most intricate and gorgeous examples of steampunk style body art:
(Images via nickbaxter, jockeyjournal, kungdesign)
The melding of technology with nature is a common theme in steampunk, as the dream of Victorian technology is to create a cleanly powered utopia much different from the sooty, chugging urban areas of the time. There is no better way to display the melding of nature and machine than by displaying a gorgeous steampunk octopus, or the more symbolic lightbulb and skull pictured above. Another popular design is the mechanical arm, where one can become part machine, at least, visually.

(Images via acemicaylak, fatmeatisgreasy)
Some people like to make themselves resemble machines in a more visually arresting manner, via the appearance of torn skin mistakenly revealing the clockwork components within. The realism of these depictions can be stunningly three dimensional in appearance. These tattoos aren’t for the faint of heart, as they tend to upset the squeamish viewer, and require countless hours under the needle.

(Images via bodyartmaster,
Clocks are a major symbol of the steampunk genre because of their intricate, scientific nature, and the fact that they manage to overcome their fragility by managing to work hour after hour, day after day. The endless variety of clock designs and their classy appearance allow one to express their aesthetic without shocking the casual observer.

(Images via brassgoggles, audramelissa, industrytattoo, livewodeadtime, steampunkfashion)
As the foundation piece for the steampunk aesthetic, cogs and gears are present in nearly every steampunk tattoo. Some individuals would rather stick with the core of steampunk by creating complicated scenes filled entirely with intricate machine parts. These are the purists.

(Images via stresslines, about, vnboards, techyum, miguelangel)
Not everyone goes for the literal symbols of the steampunk movement; they choose instead to come up with more intricate designs that manage to display their loyalties through a Victorian style, rather than the less subtle clockwork machines. Steampunk is about science, so anything ornate but functional will do the trick.

(Images via ectomo, aaronthestrong, theshadowbox)
Bio mechanical tattoos have always been popular, but there’s been a surge in the number of steam driven organs appearing on arms and chests across the nation. When you truly take the antique beauty of steampunk to heart, you might as well display it… as a heart. With pumps, gauges, and valves, the clockwork heart is both fragile and consistent in fulfilling its duties.

(Images via woodspindle, checkoutmyink)
Robots are appealing in any genre, but there’s an added beauty to the uniqueness of the Victorian machine. Due to the labor involved in creating a robot from oiled gears and heavy steel, there’s an individuality to every steampunk robot that lends itself to ink. Lurching metal behemoths with giant rivets, and clouds of billowing steam are always a classic.

(Images via, nyquildriver)
Shoulders are often overlooked as potential canvases, but they are a great location for a large and yet easily concealable tattoo. With so much area to work with, tattoo artists can delve into details that would never be able to make it into a tattoo on a forearm, or even a bicep.

(Images via dangerousdeedee, checkoutmyink, tattoosartgallery)
Flight is an important aspect of the steampunk genre; whether you be on a gently floating airship, or swiftly climbing on clockwork wings, the intricacy of steampunk flight, plus the danger of soaring so high in the sky, creates an oddly compelling combination. Clockwork wings turn the angel wing cliche into something quite a bit more interesting, and the old favorite sparrow becomes a unique piece of art when it’s made clear it’s mechanical.