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.

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I don't do the persona thing... I happen to like my own personality. LOL! Though my artistic moniker is "Shannanigan O'Crabby"... it was given to me by friends years ago. I didn't make it up... and I can be a little "spunky" so it fits. :D


I spent many years in the Rockabilly scene... and never pretended I was a different person from the 1950's. I dressed the part, made the art and listened to the music because I loved it. Same goes for Steampunk now... I like creativity of the genre, the sense of community... and I love an excuse to get all dolled up! But I still don't see the need to pretend I'm someone else.


I do like meeting people who have fun with the persona thing... but after a while I want to know who they really are. I can't really make friends with someone's fake personality. :)

thanks for your insight. I am going with being myself -- but perhaps bringing out some of the more interesting parts of my personality that don't get to come out and play often enough.

We'll see how it goes. I have added some artist icons to my clothing and hat, a metal palette, a paintbrush, a quill pen and an antique typewriter (miniature, of course! A real typewriter would be difficult to wear on one's head.) So I am getting there...

Madam, I am never one to pretend to be anything other than what I am, for I truly do enjoy myself and my reality. Here though, I have found the creation and evolution of persona truly beyond my control. It has taken upon itself, a life of its own. I have read these words and realize that I must sound as if my rivets have blown, my bolts are rattling loose, and a cannon shot has shattered my sanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is it just fun, much like movies, television, books or a dream. Each of these things are equally out of our control. When I decided I wanted to play Steampunk, I just did it. Everything else just slid into place. I wish you the very best of luck and even better health. Dastardly yours, AirMarshal Cain

Hear hear

It is my feeling that a persona is nothing more than an extension of one self. It is the accumulation of the unfulfilled dreams ideas, wants, etc, It is how we act on fulfilling these dream. Do we suppress the impulses we have an let our dream lay fallow or do we act on them and let them have almost free reign. Meaning not allowing our dreams to take control of our real lives and spend us into debt we can not get out of. There must be balance. 

  that is my two cents


If I may ask a question or two about persona's. I am working on creating a back story for a costume that I am working on. The persona is a prison guard/warden for a prison that houses Air Pirates and the criminally insane. I have a good idea about the costume but how detailed should I or could I go for the persona? Should It be based in fact, real places, real people or should it be completely made up?

I don't know that I should answer, since I'm the one who is still learning ... but my instinct from what I've read so far, is that you want to incorporate a few items in your costume that are unique to your persona/character, so that you aren't just in a cool outfit, but a cool outfit that seems to have some purpose.

It doesn't need at all to be based in fact, but should make "sense" to the alternate reality you have created. So ... what tools or weapons does YOUR prison guard need? What would he/she carry with them, what items would tell a story or prompt people to ask you "what's that?"  "Why do you wear that on your belt?"

But your character does not at all need to be based in history. If you have some history that you can incorporate into your character's life, as you write it, that works, but you can also make up an entire world for her to live in.

And now I will let other, more experienced Personas give you their enlightened opinions, and learn a bit more.

So what I'm going to say will kind of go along the lines of what Camryn said.

Historical facts, real places, real people, etc. those aspects to a character are really just for people who are very much into history and well versed in it. 

Hrm, that sounds kind of snooty and uppity.... What I mean to say is, if you're familiar with a real historical thing and you'd LIKE to incorporate it, and it makes sense to incorporate it, then by all means, go ahead.

I'm really into history, I know a LOAD about it for basically everything northwest of Ganges and east of the Pacific Islands, and I actively use that in my character and my writings. I reference real places, real people, real events, BUT I do it because I already know it and want an excuse to use it.

So say you know about the Mansfield Reformatory already (sorry, first historic prison that came to mind), that's a real place, it's got a real history, and you want to use it. Then by all means, go ahead. You can always tweak it's history to suit your needs.

I did that with the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul in my book, as well as with the Hotel de Sully, Hotel d'Alsace, and countless other places. I changed who founded them and who owned them, who lived in them, etc. I also reference M. Charles Fredrick Worth, Emile Pingat, and Mme Marguerite (Parisian couturers) as well as Antoin Sevruguin (my profile picture is in fact a re-creation of one of his works), Nasser al Din Shah and various women of his harem, and other historical figures I would have known. My own persona is a historical figure (the woman my name came from) that I've tweaked a bit historically (namely her end is not how it's historically recorded, but since I'm playing and Immortal, that's a given ;) ).

And this is all fine and dandy for me, because I'm obsessed with history, and I already knew all this stuff to begin with. No one really needs or expects you to be that in-depth though. No one is going to knock you for it if you decide to go a little historical and get something wrong or change it, nor is anyone going to knock you for it if you completely make up your own thing. In fact, I'd think making up your own thing entirely would be more of a show of creativity than what I've done. All I do is take real things and tweak them to my own devices so that they work within my version of the steampunk universe. Making something up entirely is literally using your brain to make a place, fill it with personalities you'd have to know and interact with, and then remembering it to share, which is quite impressive.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is, by all means, do what you're most comfortable with. That's the beauty of steampunk, you get to do your own thing.

If you want to go the historical route, I offer up my expanse of accumulated tidbits to you. God knows I know too much as it is. lol

Either way, I look forward to hearing about your persona once you've fleshed it out. I love seeing what people come up with.

One question to ask yourself is how you'll react to the unrepentant and unshackled air pirates you're bound to meet at cons and other assemblies. As a crew member of a legitimate airship providing useful service (mail delivery) around the world, I find air pirates to be an unsavory lot. Not much danger to us, as our ship is so swift, but not the sort of persons with whom I care to take tea. 

At cons we meet under a flag of truce. Yet when they are boastful and swaggering, it's hard not to recall some burnt-out hulk you searched for survivors ... in vain. And while some pirates can manage to keep the peace for a few days, will you feel safe in identifying yourself and your profession, however useful? They are likely to regard you as a "scurvey screw" or some other such opprobrious term.

I like to think of my persona as a version of myself that I don't have the opportunity or sometimes the courage to show to people normally but regardless of that it's still me- just me wrapped up in a corset.


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