Culture

The 7 Best Dieselpunk Artists Working Right Now

Their medium? Gears, guns, and gasoline.

Josh Jensen

Everyone has heard of steampunk, the sci-fi subgenre inspired by the 19th century steam-powered machinery. Well, you can throw all that cutesy Victoriana out the window. Meet dieselpunk, the younger, louder aesthetic that takes its cues from WWII and early Cold War weaponry. Dieselpunk is violent, raw, industrial, and perhaps just a bit more relevant to the world we live in.

The term itself was coined in 2002 by two different game designers: Lewis Pollak, when he was describing his new game Children of the Sun, and Anders Blixt that same year, when discussing his own RPG, Lemuria.

Thanks to the Internet, the subculture has taken off over the past decade, developing a niche community that’s embraced dieselpunk, giving old industrialism a new life in a world of gargantuan machinery and tough-as-nails characters. There’s a very American feel to dieselpunk. Tome Wilson, author of “Dieselpunk: Retro Futures of the All-American Deco Years,” wrote in a short essay that writers and artists who dug into dieselpunk before there was a name for it were “creating a future fueled by the spirit of the Jazz Age.”

Of course, most of us are noobs to this realm of science fiction. For a primer, check out some of the best visual artists who explore the world of dieselpunk.

1. Alejandro Burdisio

Forja de colosos Alejandro Burdisio

Burdisio puts a futuristic spin on dieselpunk, creating worlds where ‘60s-era cars, trucks, and even buildings take off in the air with retrofitted hover technology. Check out more of his work at his Facebook page.

Universo Chatarra - hiperchurros Alejandro Burdisio

2. Sam Van Offlen

Sam Van Offlen

Many of Offlen’s works depict a twisted version of how people and society have coped with a new, fallow world, where industry has become the focal point around which humanity revolves. He manages to strike a nice balance between terrifying and absurd, provocative yet humorous. Check out more at his website.

Portrait Of A LadySam Van Offlen

3. Keith Thompson

T 10 CharioteerKeith Thompson

Thompson takes his inspiration from WWII, considering what inventions could have been realized if people maybe had a bit more time — and were just a few degrees crazier. See more at his website.

BaronKeith Thompson

4. Stefan Prohaczka

Low VisibilityStefan Prohaczka

The US isn’t the only country where dieselpunk is popular. Russia has seen it’s own artists gravitate towards big industrial imagery. As a versatile artist, Prohaczka is well versed in moving back and forth from detailed landscape and skylines of a dieselpunk state, to intimate portraits of its inhabitants. His dieselpunk collection can be found at his Deviant Art page.

Dieselpunk MadonnaStefan Prohaczka

5. Alexey Lipatov

Full MoonAlexey Lipatov

Lipatov presents a softer side of dieselpunk — one where the humanity of people shines more brightly than what other artists show. It’s a warmer look at a version of the world where being tied to high-industrial machines doesn’t mean becoming one. See more of Lipatov’s work at his Deviant Art page.

Mechanic GirlAlexey Lipatov

6. Tom Floyd

Captain SpectreTom Floyd

A master of pulp, Floyd’s “Captain Spectre” comics are heavily influenced by dieselpunk — and bound to influence any other visual artist who check them out. Go to his website to learn more and read about some of Spectre’s adventures.

Captain SpectreTom Floyd

7. Waldemar Kazak

Fat BitchWaldemar Kazak

Kazak’s art portrays dieselpunk at probably its most realistic — what the world would have been like if it had simply adopted its WWII-era fascinations a little more obsessively. Dieselpunk doesn’t have to be a dystopic hell for people on Earth. It can simply be an alternate reflection of a world not too different from ours. You can find more of Kazak’s work at his Deviant Art page.

Big SteamWaldemar Kazak
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