12 Exciting Steampunk, Raypunk & Comic Artists
Updated: Aug 17, 2018
Xavier Lopez writes:
Steampunk is famous for its beautiful and distinctive aesthetic, but a lot of people would struggle to name 10 Steampunk artists, let alone Raypunk ones.
Now, in fairness, whilst everyone interested in the subject might have an intuitive sense of what Steampunk is, which images are and are not Steampunk/ Atompunk/ Raypunk/Dieselpunk is something enthusiasts discuss in various online forums all the time. So these genres - Steampunk, Raypunk etc are not quite as clear-cut as-say-Impressionism, or Cubism... Part of this is undoubtedly due to the vibrance of the field- Steampunk is evolving and expanding all the time; Victorian realism or Cubism, on the other hand, are not...or, at least, not on the same scale or time-frame.
So when The Greatest Minds asked me to compile a lit of Top 12 Steampunk/Raypunk artists, it wasn't something that could be done objectively. If the challenge had been to write about Surrealism, for example, I could have said "Magritte sold more paintings than Delvaux and enjoys a greater fame so he goes higher up the list", or "Salvador Dali's work was undoubtedly game-changing, Felicien Ropps, not really, so Dali makes the list, Ropps doesn't."
Pretty much anyone interested in Steampunk would have my first "Exciting Steampunk Artist"- Moebius- on their list of Top Steampunk artists, but the other entries are very much more a matter of opinion. I like these artists, I think they are notable and innovative and exciting, but others may not agree. It is quite a challenge when you consider it- Who would make your list of exciting/ top Steampunk artists and who would be passed over with barely a footnote (or less)? It is also a list that will undoubtedly evolve and change over time- someone fairly obscure like Jason Hernandez (see below), for example, might become "huge" in the next few years, or might take quite a different artistic direction. Artistic legacy is about many things- commercial success, certainly, but also publicity and inspiration of the artist him/herself. Cezanne went through different colour periods in his career: a modern artist might just as easily go through digital or painting "periods" or move from Steampunk to Raypunk to Chinese Traditional Portraiture- who knows?
So, with those caveats in mind, Here is my top 12-
You know you are doing well when the whole world knows you by a single name. For French artist Jean Henri Gaston Giraud that name was " Moebius ". He is well known for creating "a wide range of science fiction and fantasy comics". Startiing out with Western themed works like "Le roi des bisons" ("King of the Buffalo") , "Fort Navajo" in Pilote Magazine (with his mentor and fellow artist Joseph Gillain - better known as "Jijé") and the "Blueberry" series , Moebius later produced more surreal fantasy works like the Arzach series and "The Incal"-
Moebius (aka "Giraud" aka "Gir") images online include-
2. Caza (a.k.a. Philippe Cazaumayou).
Another great artist with a single name moniker, Philippe "Caza" Cazamayou (seen at work [HERE] ) is known for Sci Fi and Raypunk type works. "Kronozone" and "Lailah" are particular favourites. Mayan/Mesoamerican influences compete with Ancient Egyptian elements and sci fi reptilian-alien-type creatures for pride of place in the artist's already impressive legacy.
Samples of his work currently available online can be found here-
3. Jason Hernandez.
If you google "Jason Hernandez", you will find a lot of hits about the Puerto Rican international footballer and far fewer about the Pasedena-trained artist. Personally, I think that's a pity because the artist's Catholic-iconography-meets space men and monsters artwork series (for want of a better description) is 100% fabulous, even if it may/maynot be 100% Raypunk. I first encountered his work "Change the Thought" a few months back, which is still my favourite piece. Check out his website or [THIS LINK] to an old exhibition for more from Jason Hernandez online.
4. Carlyn Lim.
Some of the greatest art these days never appears in print at all, insteading living entirely online or in computer/ video games. Many of the stunning fantasy-type artworks of Carlyn Lim fall into this category. As Lead Concept Artist at Washington-based game developper ArenaNet, she is best known for her work on the hugely popular Guildwars series of games, but you can find a fair bit of her work online, notably on places like Art Station. Most of her work online is fantasy and Japan-influenced "monsters" with metal armour, rather than Raypunk exactly, but there is at least a generous selection of her work floating around the internet.
5. Philippe Druillet.
Famous French comic-book artist Philippe Druillet is best known for his "Lone Sloane" saga, which has been released in four installments since the mid 1960s, his 1974 work "Yragaël" (with Michel Demuth ), plus indivividual works such as "La Nuit" (1976) and "Nosferatu "(1989) as well as the "Salammbô" trilogy relased in the 1980s. Winner of multiple awards, the work of M. Druillet perhaps needs no introduction, but here is a selection of his Raypunk- type images-
6. Kazuhiko Nakamura (Almacan)
The work of Japanese digital artist Almacan is not as liberally scattered online as some of the other artists in this article, but his firmly Steampunk creations are well worth tracking down-
His publications include book covers, a calendar, exhibition-posters and e-zine cover art-
Definitely Raypunk, rather than Steampunk, if you like Robots, Crashed Alien Spaceships and artful decay...or if you have a sense of humour about ephemeral pop culture, Mr Hodas's Instagram account is a treasure-trove...
8. Sana Takeda.
Japanese artist Sana Takeda needs no introduction to anyone famliar with the hugely successful and award-winning cartoon series "Monstress" series, which she illustrated working with author Marjorie Liu.Having cut her artistic teethworking for Sega on game illustration, Takeda went freelance in her mid 20s. Her Monstress pictures are notable for their intricate style and blend of Steampunk elements with stronger Ancient-Egyptian-inspired and Far-Eastern-inspired elements, columns, temples, eye-catching colours...and, of course, the cats....
9. Alexey Lipatov.
The work of gifted Ukraine-based artist Alexey Lipatov falls easily into the Steampunk, Raypunk, Dieselpunk or Decopunk categories, depending upon the theme, albeit with a slight Post-Soviet/Eastern European twist sometimes.
10. Flavio Bolla.
Switzerland-based artist Flavio Bolla describes himself as an "Environmental Concept Artist"; his work is most notable in my view for his flying-machines amidst architectural backgrounds rendered in a decidedly traditional style. There are definite echoes of some of Miyazaki's (much better known) work there, too; whether this is coincidental, deliberate or subconscious though, I don't know.
11. Giorgio Comolo.
Born in 1961, Italian artist Giorgio Comolo cites Moebius, Caza and Jimenez as his early influences and when you look at his intricate hard-rocking aliens, Robots or Aztec Cheiftans, you can certainly see some of those formative influences writ large. That said, a quick look at his book covers and you can rapidly see that Comolo is his own man, too. The bigest question is why does he not yet have a wikipedia page (as of Aug 2018)...
12. Keith Spangle.
Another one-to-watch, Keith Spangle's Outer Space-meets-Ancient-Middle East work is gorgeous. His "Ship's Cat" picture went viral a little while back and it is not hard to see why. Other themes he has tackled include this striking picture of Ozymandias on some far flung planet and this Babylonian-themed piece: history and space, "retro futurism" or true Raypunk- whatever it is, it is certainly memorable.
There's a great little piece on Steampunk art by Nick Ottens over on the "Never Was" website here-
-"12 Exciting Steampunk, Raypunk & Comic Artists" was written for The Greatest Minds
by Xavier Lopez. There is more from Xavier Lopez in The Greatest Minds' Book: "Marie Curie and the Ibexes", which you can buy [HERE].