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Submitted on
January 30, 2012
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I really should quit. by shoomlah I really should quit. by shoomlah
Multiculturalism for Steampunk is starting up a weekly art challenge, and it looks promising. SO EXCITED. I've had a bunch of ideas for non-Western steampunk outfits floating around in my head, and it's nice actually having a weekly deadline to motivate me to finish some of them.

This is pretty subtle in its steampunkery (read: no extranneous metal bits), but I was just trying to bring in a few western/Victorian elements to traditional Indian clothing- legomuttoned sleeves, the double breasted, collared choli, and adapting the churidar into buttoned spats.

...Also a sweet hat.

(Photoshop CS5)

Editing to add some context in a response to toryot on Tumblr:
"No screeching, I promise! No such thing as being oversensitive with this sort of thing. I tried to avoid choosing anything specifically British (or any of the imagery specifically associated with colonization/”exploration chic”, things like khaki and piths), and tried to make it seem like the character had agency. I definitely don’t want to pretend I’m creating this in a void, that there aren’t historical and cultural contexts surrounding the politics of dress, but was trying to integrate elements that didn’t overwhelm the original culture.

Granted, I am of the opinion that Steampunk that erases past racial greivances (i.e. alternate history where white people are awesome and never did anything wrong and we’re all best friends) is kinda shitty and naive- that’s why I drew this as a character, and not as a costume design for something I would wear (as a white chick). If one were designing a Steampunk world, it would be unfair to assume that this cultural crossover didn’t happen and wouldn’t have existed, but I honestly apologize that the original post might make it seem like this was drawn solely for aesthetic purposes- and I’d like to address that and make it clear that I am definitely trying to keep context in mind, and am happy to be called out like this."

"I don’t want to imply that adding traditional elements of Victoriana immediately makes something steampunk, but rather that mixing the fashion styles present in India at the time is what makes it so. I admittedly tend to focus a lot more on punking of fashion, rather than adding overt sci-fi elements; a character choosing to appropriate and integrate motifs from the invading class, on their own terms, rather than the other way around.

So much of sci-fi is about addressing human issues, rather than the actual technology, and Steampunk has a tendency to ignore that entirely if not prompted. Yes, I definitely enjoy playing around with the design aspect of these sorts of pieces, but I’m also extremely keen on the historical and social context that informs it. Not saying I’m on par with Gavin Fernandes or Yinka Shonibare when it comes to fashion design with a message, but I am trying to keep it in mind and encourage the critiques from people who are better informed than I am."
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azathoth-the-second Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Any chance of this as a print?
ilovespageeaters Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2014
It is very difficult to find fantasy artwork of Indian women that manages to not be super-cheesecakey. It is *nearly impossible* to find said artwork with a steampunk/Victorian twist. 

I found this piece after hours of Googling, and I've been jazzed about it ever since. Thank you for doing what you do!
koukuro Featured By Owner Edited Jul 23, 2014
Man, that awesome drawing, together with THAT coment!Clap 
Thanks for the good deviation!!
rachelillustrates Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Fantastic design, yay this :D
Charanty Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
It's steampunk if it has steam powered mechanisms and set in what approximately called 19th century. Or "alternative history".
However if you don't like the terns for some reason you can go for "science fantasy".
sweetsweetsunshines Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
wow O.o  I've never heard of mixing steampunk (set in Victorian times) and multiculturalism but makes it look so fun
Suka-Retto Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014
This is too FLIPPING GORGEOUS. I love the concept. LOVE it. Very nice work.
courtessa-love Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014
Gah! I want to add it to my favorites again and again and again!!!
zakiaybee122 Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013
TeenTitans4EVER Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013
I really like this design and I could see a blending of British and Indian fashion having happened like this in an alternate universe. Obviously, it's not traditional (that would be the point) and it's not simply Victorian-ifiying Indian clothing either. It's a neat blend that is interesting to look at from a fashion standpoint and as an interesting "what if?" scenario. What if British fashion somehow managed to merge with Indian fashion? And I think you captured that pretty well. Obviously with Steampunk being so heavily Victorian (i.e. British) influenced and then trying to bring India into that genre, it's going to cause some upheaval. Honestly, as an Indian and a fan of Steampunk in general, I think you did a very interesting take on what Steampunk could look like in India and I appreciate that you kept true Indian fashion (and cultural elements) in the clothing. (That's something not seen even in Indian characters in media nowadays.) Anyways, that's just my two cents on the whole thing. 

TL;DR I love this image, and the character (especially her attitude) and I appreciate you keeping elements of Indian fashion and Steampunk fashion in it, without having one obstruct the other. 
preetalee Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013
I love you.
daaash Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Student Digital Artist
EmeraldJune Featured By Owner May 31, 2013  Student General Artist
Mighty sexy.
austere-engineer Featured By Owner May 21, 2013
This is heavily reminiscent of the Roger Zelazny novel, "Lord of Light"
AzaleaJones Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Fantastic! I saw this last year and didn't know who made it! Love this soo much! I hope you'll make more multicultural steampunk.
Refurein Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yess, yessssss Sci-fi def needs more non-western influences!
vifetoile Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist
This is a great design! Each element of the costume is harmonious, and I love the colors!

I've started working on an idea for a sort of steampunk... or Regencypunk?... story that will hopefully address issues of imperialism and colonialism. When I started doodling what the main character might look like, she took inspiration from this drawing. It was like a lightning strike!
This will require a lot of research and a lot of respectful treading, but I want to let you know that this design is inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you!
hexsy Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013   Digital Artist
Awesome design and you bring up some very good points. I hadn't really thought about that aspect of Steampunk before, since I had been more focused on the overall aesthetic. It's definitely something to think over. Thank you.
JumpSpark Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013
This kicks all kinds of ass.
I should make one haha.
AbbyElena Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Hobbyist
..... i love it, i really do - i love how you, at least to me, perfectly harmonized by mixing the clothing styles of two cultures into one, and making it steampunked doesnt hurt either ;) so thank you :)
Sivaroobini Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2013
As an Indian girl into cosplay and steampunk, I really love this. ♥ I love my roots, and sometimes I feel like the costume options for someone with my interests (fantasy, comics, sci fi, classics, horror) and skin tone are limited. This is such a gorgeous adaptation, blending the clothing I routinely wear with a Victorian/steampunk style I absolutely love, and I would really love to actually make it into a costume one day to wear to a con in the distant future; would that be okay with you? If anyone asked I would credit you with the inspiration and design.
Sivaroobini Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013
As an Indian girl into cosplay and steampunk, I really love this. ♥ I love my roots, and sometimes I feel like the costume options for someone with my interests (fantasy, comics, sci fi, classics, horror) and skin tone are limited. This is such a gorgeous adaptation, blending the clothing I routinely wear with a Victorian/steampunk style I absolutely love, and I would really love to actually make it into a costume one day to wear to a con in the distant future; would that be okay with you? If anyone asked I would credit you with the inspiration and design.
shoomlah Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I would be completely flattered, and I'd love to see photos if you ever want to share them! Thanks for all the kind words, it was a really fun piece to do. :)
Chaskashi Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I love her expression! It's all quite marvelous!!! :D
princess-mia62 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OMG This is so perfect. I love it! And I love you! Your aptitude for incredible wardrobe design is unparalleled!
MakeupSiren Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013   General Artist
Love your Indian inspired steampunk style!!. I would love for you to checkout mine and tell me what you think [link] [link]
shoomlah Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Wow, AMAZING- the outfit, and your makeup, is outstanding. :D
MakeupSiren Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013   General Artist
thank you am glad you like it. I love the western mix you did on your it so bad ass :excited:
Acaciathorn Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
SO COOL. This is such a freaking great design!
SpindleWinter Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is gorgeous! I love the colours, the pinstripes, the... the... The everything!

(Yes, me again. Hello! Going a-viking through your gallery, hope you don't mind.)
vishwas Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
Very Good !!!. Cool Fusion of two cultures !!!
Amazing imagination. A wearable attire. Very beautiful. I like it, I love it !!!
elegantgeisha Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
MisterZammy Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Lovely !
EpicMyst Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

I love this just oodles and oodles and oooooooodles
BonbonVert Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love the "sari" model.
earthbending Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
Beautiful and powerful!
DarkDispair Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013
revolutionofone Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
This is a really interesting idea, and you made it work beautifully! Well done!
Azro Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
I love how you blended the cultures, really well done!
mazloum Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012
Albinowolf54 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
I'm glad you are eager to address the social issues people may or may not have had with this piece, and addressing that this is not a costume but a character. Not many artists think this way, and I'm glad that you are involved and understanding enough to work that into your work, it means a lot. Great work!
ADE-doodles Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
daw327 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012
this is GREAT!
Dumbledape Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
ugh the colours are so incredible and the design is so clever i just
Meme-candia Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Student General Artist
she is so beautiful! I love how you draw people...
SithLordLiisa Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Amasing. I'd wear that every day if I lived in India
Magpieb0nes Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
So. Cute.
TheEggeh Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Dat hat
Cipherpunkblue Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012
This is probably my favourite "multiculturalism art challenge" picture ever. I love everything about her - stance, attitude, the lovely clothes.
Otterlore Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I do agree with the commenters below, this is absolutely marvelous in every way. A very nice blend of styles. Especially the little details- the buttons on her pants, different patterns on each individual piece of clothing (top, skirt, sleeves). And is that henna I see on her hands? ^^
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