The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

Dear friends, help me understand personas (and whether I need one)

So many of you have shared glimpses of your lives with me, and I have peeked into the real and imaginary worlds in which you live. Quite enlightening!


Some (just a few) have told me that I will fare better if I had a persona ... and I am not sure how to proceed, or whether, indeed this is true. When you go to cons, do you ... do others ... always stay in character? Is it more enjoyable to meet someone who has a well-thought out history and plays the part?


I enjoy dressing up, and sewing, and imagining, all that I "get" ... but so far I have not been captured by any particular character feeling. I am an artist, and so much of my energy goes into imagining new pieces and then figuring out if it's possible to actually make what I have envisioned. (If I could truly make everything I imagined, it would be awesome, but those technical limitations are sometimes over-riding.) I just don't know where to start with developing a second personality and/or entire being to embody when I am amongst like-minded folk.


So perhaps a few questions:

did your costume/attire evolve along with your persona, or independent of each other?

do you tend to stay "in character" when you meet other steampunkers and steampunkettes (steampunkolians?) at conventions?

do you enjoy hearing other people's imagined histories and back stories?

do you have an expectation that an artist or vendor will be in persona, and discuss his/her works with you through an imaginary history or backstory?


I know I am very drawn to many of your stories, but not sure who I am in this world. But having a straightforward nature, I thought I'd just march in and ask.

Views: 581

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

My persona is me. I don't talk in an accent, or dress crazy differently than I would if I was just hanging out with people.(note- I'm a lolita, I dress funny pretty much all the time. For steampunk I just add my useful accessories that I don't need in this world.)


Abigail is different, but also the same.


She is basically my way of playing out who I could have become. I was always a good kid, I never really talked back or did outrageously bad things. She is a version of me-but bad. She looks innocent, but uses her charm and her whit to swindle and kill people. She deals with drugs and bad people. She takes revenge and not excuses. She's greedy and spoiled.


I certainly do love a good history. I often see people who put on personas but really can't come up with a good backstory, or can't answer what their persona's favorite animal is and why. It kindof disappoints me that those people have such potential but just haven't focused on developing themselves. Abigail has all the ins and outs of a real person (for example- I can whistle, she cannot.) and that's really what makes a persona real. It doesn't matter if I ever tell someone that Abigail is an only child, or if she loves cats and hates dogs, or even if she has alien space worms that make her live 3x the average human lifespan or how she even got those worms, it matters that Abigail has secrets and loves and hates just like the rest of us. It matters that if someone DID ask- I'd be able to answer them.

Well, for me my persona isn't really different from myself. It started out as a character for Vampire: The Masquerade that my friends and I were playing that we had modified to be set in the Steampunk universe, and from there, it turned to LARP-ing and well, now it's my persona for all things steampunk. Still the same personality, the same socioeconomic standing, the same skills, etc. The major differences are that instead of being x amount of years old that I am, my persona is 2500 and supposed to be the woman I took the name from, and my relationships with those around in real life who play the VTM with me versus in the game are a bit different, but not much. Oh, and that whole Immortality and bloodlust thing... that's persona. But even how my persona handles it (discreetly, ladylike yet matter-of-fact, and in such a manner that you don't know until it's thrown at you) is very much how I am.  

So when you talk to me, here, or in person, or etc. you won't really know if I'm in character or not, and neither will I until we get to a conversation where I don't want to divulge personal information and so use my character's historical parallels in lieu, OR until we get into a point in the conversation where I do feel alright with divulging personal information on request.

That said, if you see me, you will ALWAYS get a CDV with my steampunk persona on it. :)

did your costume/attire evolve along with your persona, or independent of each other?

I've noted somewhere else before that my attire is because I do living history and reenactments. Now that said, I'm not the adventurous type to try and play a lower class person, I've tried, it just doesn't feel right to me or really, anyone around me, so while my wardrobe evolved entirely outside of the persona for its own reasons, it definitely does not counter it in any way... rather, I think it serves to make it more convincing. 

do you tend to stay "in character" when you meet other steampunkers and steampunkettes (steampunkolians?) at conventions?

I think I've covered that decently in the blip up top.

do you enjoy hearing other people's imagined histories and back stories?

I always enjoy hearing other people's persona's stories. I love to see how creative people are, and creating a persona is just another way of them expressing their creativity, kind of like their costume or the wares they may vend. 

do you have an expectation that an artist or vendor will be in persona, and discuss his/her works with you through an imaginary history or backstory?

I never make any expectations for that. I always hear it as a kind of "bonus" if they do have one, but it's not necessary, not in the least. 

If you want to make a persona for yourself, I suggest not going for a personality that deviates too much from your own at first. Then it will come more naturally to you, and you can devote your time to imagining things for your character, like a history and so on. 

thank you for your explanation.

I think I realized something. Admitting I am an artist is a bit like coming out of the closet (considering my rather ordinary work life, few people who "know" me professionally expect me to make things and show them, let alone run around in velvet and leather and a charming feathered hat), so I think that may be why developing an imaginary, if somewhat historical, persona is a bit too much all at once -- maybe I'm just getting comfortable with who I am, and that's enough for now..  

I developed my persona as part of an airship crew, just to have a backstory. But I've never had occasion to tell anyone most of the details I worked out - it's just for my own edification.

Unfortunately, I'm no actor, and can't maintain an accent unless I'm conversing with someone who has that accent  - which sounds rude. So I had to take that inability into account, or saying anything in character would be impossible.

In that way, I did follow the advice to stay close to my mundane self.

Differences in my persona have opened some new possibilites for self-expression, however. For example, as a well-traveled and adventuresome widow, I tend to a bawdier sense of humor than my happily-married daily self - which is fun for "both" of us. 

I enjoy hearing other people's stories, but I don't expect everyone I meet to have one. Especially with makers and vendors, I'm much more likely to want to talk about what they've made.

As for my wardrobe, I'm a thrifter so I really love finding modifi-able garments to add to my SP closet. And a costumer friend helped me make a few things from scratch. Being older, and long past any girlish figure I may have had, I find Victorian easier to wear than punk or Lolita styles. But I love whole range of costumes I see at cons, from dollymops to dandies, and from beginners to the most elaborately dressed. Just bring your own viewpoint and have fun.

Actually the costuming is the easiest part for me. I completely embrace that.

Found this wonderful jacket at a thrift shop. (Pearl gray velvet.)  This is how I am modifying (it's not done, this is just 'shopped.) I debated removing the pockets, but pockets are SUCH wonderful inventions, and so handy at a con, so I am keeping. Even the buttons were the perfect steel gray color and I was able to find very similar ones to add to the design.

I'm very glad to hear there isn't an expectation that I must carry off a character from the start.

This will be fantastic! There's nothing quite like the rush of finding a great shape and fabric, and imagining how you can make it uniquely yours.


If you are an artist, stay an artist and don't worry about a persona. 

My attire has evolved with my persona, it's only natural to do so. Why would a botanist need a giant Power Fist? Why would a Vampire Hunter wear a tutu (insanity is why). 

Yes, I tend to stay in persona... but in all fairness I have a kick butt persona

Yes! Interacting with others is the most fun of all!

Artists and Vendors I do not expect them too, but it seems to add more fun. Like having a vendor at a ren faire acting the part.

And I believe the term is "Steampunk", not steampunkers, etc etc etc. Oh, and keep the pockets. They were around and are very logical to have.

Artists and Vendors I do not expect them too, but it seems to add more fun. Like having a vendor at a ren faire acting the part.

Can you elaborate? How would a vendor at a Ren Faire "act the part?" Can you provide an example? (really really serious that I am having trouble imagining a vendor speaking to me as though they were from another place and time, so open my mind to this possibility.)

And, so you know I'm not always serious, steampunkers and steampunkolians was an attempt at wit.

You've never been to a ren faire? Accent, garb, referring to a customer as a Lord or Lady, Accepting "Master Card" or "Lady Visa" etc. Sure I have seem some dress the part but talk like a common modern person, but they often don't have anything work buying. Steampunk is... immersive. I'm more willing to drop a dime on those who view it as a performance art and less on seeing me as a walking wallet.

No, I have not been to a ren faire as a vendor. The only one I ever attended was maybe 20 years ago and I barely remember it. This is why I am asking. I make things, and I have begun to show and to sell them. I dress appropriately (I have several outfits and there I feel within my comfort zone.)

But I do not have experience as a vendor at ANY kind of con, nor have I spoken with an artist/vendor who is in character. So I am really asking for some enlightenment. It would be most helpful if you could describe what you mean.

I'm more willing to drop a dime on those who view it as a performance art and less on seeing me as a walking wallet.

I assure you, I don't think of anyone that way.

So for a newbie who wandered into your alternate universe .. perhaps by accident, perhaps by design ... what do you mean by performance art? Right now when someone asks about my art, I tell them truthfully how I get my ideas, and how the materials often suggest new ideas to me by the way they blend together or fall apart. That I have wonderful scenes I want to create, but I often have to stop and learn some new technique or acquire a new skill in order to fulfill my imagination. So, I don't know how to have a "persona" have that conversation. It doesn't mean I view anyone as a potential customer or just someone who might buy something. I'm just very raw and inexperienced. (I do believe everybody has to start somewhere.)

My apologies, I did not mean to make it sound like you would see us as just customers. I was at a Steampunk convention just two weeks ago and here are the types of vendors I experienced firsthand:

A) BUY SOMETHING OR GTFO - Vendor/artist just sits there with hardly a word. Watching you like you are about to steal their wares. Yes I realize this is probably my third or fourth visit to the booth but perhaps there is one item I am debating on buying. An attitude sells nothing.

B) NORMALS - Vendor is nice enough but is just an Average Joe off the street. Now I have been spending time immersed in a great getaway and to be suddely reminded of... the mundane... it is sort of a letdown.

C) STEAMPUNK LIKE ME - "Come in good Sir and browse our wares, I see you carry no sidearm however do you defend yourself from airship pirates?" Oh, I like this guy already. He dresses and talks like me! One art vendor handed me a flier and gave me an excellent backstory on his art on the inspiration and creation. Sure it was made up, but it made me happy and I wound up buying something I just had to own.

There are more ways and methods but those are the main three. Now yes a lot of us say you don't need a persona, but I will say you do need a look. Steampunk conventions are a new breed of animal. At a ren faire few attendees wear garb. At a Star Trek convention not everyone is in costume. Steampunk cons you only see a few people on the floor out of an outfit and that isn't for long.

thank you, that helps. Really.

I have done exactly one show, and I didn't know what to expect there, and now that I am doing more, and larger shows, I'm trying to be prepared for what people expect.

First I encourage people to touch and shake my art, because it looks very fragile and folks need to be told it's okay to touch. (I also have small signage, in a lovely steampunk design that says "Please shake the waterglobes" and for some reason that always makes people laugh, because they report more artists have signs saying "do NOT touch my things" and I'm the opposite.) At the lone sci-fi con I attended recently, the common sign was "keep your DNA off my art." Didn't seem friendly at all!

One they've shaken one, they often want to go down the whole line, and (other than very small children), I encourage them to do so.

I shall ponder your (C) vendor's answers. While I may not have a history or backstory yet, I can certainly emulate a victorian/steampunk lady, with proper grammar and fine manners, and try to walk the fine lines between friendly, pushy, enthusiastic and desperate. I am thilled when people stop to look at my work and to ask questions, so I can only blindly hope there will be more passersby such as yourself who will come back to look more than once. Whether they buy or not is truly irrelevant as long as they enjoy what they see. (Obviously I plan to stay a poor starving artist with this attitude, but a happy one.)


© 2017   Created by Hephzibah Marsh.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service