Interview with Steampunk’d Maker, James Neathery

This week we are talking with James Neathery, who was one of the ten contestants on Steampunk’d, from GSN, the Game Show Network. Steampunk’d is the first steampunk reality show to be broadcast on cable television.


Airship Ambassador: Hi James, it’s great to chat with you again!

James Neathery: Sure thing, I’m stoked to be here.


AA: How amazing was it for you to be on the first steampunk reality show on TV?

JN: Mostly it was awesome to finally have someone take notice of my work and have promotion for it. I also loved meeting and working with other SP artists, and getting to see what goes into making a production like this. It sucked not having phone or internet and no contact with the outside world, but of course it’s necessary. I missed my family the whole time.


AA: Fellow contestant Tobias McCurry also talked about internet deprivation. It can be tough! How long have you been involved in the steampunk community and what brought you into it?

JN: So, it’s kind of a long story, but I’ll try to shorten it. I’ve always been fascinated with cybernetic prosthetics and the merging of man and machine. My grandfather lost both his legs to diabetes and that got me interested in functional bio-prosthetics, but I don’t have the chops for mathing and engineering. I got into steampunk in particular when I saw the movie Steamboy and fell in love with the alternate history clockwork and steam power angle. As for involvement with the community, I’ve been jamming my foot in the door for about 4 years now.


AA: When and how did you get started building and creating things?

JN: I’ve been making stuff out of Lego Technic sets since I was like 10, way before I knew what SP was, of course, but what better way to get started? I got into serious SP crafting when my wife bought me a steampunk style watch for my 28th birthday and I started, uh, modifying it. Well, it could only handle so much before it fell apart, so I decided to make a new one. It’s actually the only original piece I made that I still own, but I got so much interest from it that I started making a whole line to sell. From that came a desire to learn leatherworking which evolved my style, which led to larger and more intricate items, and I even began to incorporate my electronics skill into the mix to make the speakers and desk gadgets I’ve got. The sky is the limit, and I will always be looking for new tricks and methods to round out my skills.


AA: Hmmm, “some people” always need a new steampunk watch. “Some people” right here. Just saying. What is it about steampunk as an aesthetic that appeals to you?

JN: Oh man, I gotta say quality- the whole “they don’t make them like they used to” thing. Well guess what, I do! I offer a lifetime replacement guarantee on my leather. I love gears and clock works and industrial steam powered machines. I love using real, raw materials. Everything I make is cut from raw leather, tooled by hand, embellished with real hand cut brass, copper, and steel and welded together with real solder. It’s very rare I use glue or epoxy. I love the uniqueness I get to bring to it and the flair. Everything is so plain and modernized these days, it feels good to be able to make something that so resoundingly isn’t!


AA: Excellent attitude! What are some designs or materials that you tend to work with the most?

JN: Leather, brass sheet, brass round, copper round and coil, nuts, bolts, steel rivets, electronics of all sorts, wood and wood stains and finishes.


AA: What are some signature elements in your work that make it stand out as recognizably something you created?

JN: I tend to inlay the brass plates in my leather armor pieces rather than attaching them on top, and they usually feature brass round bump guards and solder slag. I also include tooling in most of my leather pieces which is somewhat unusual in the general SP market. Also the attention to detail – cutting stuff by hand, beveling and finishing leather edges instead of leaving them raw cut. All my designs are completely original too. Everything that I’ve made has been original, concept to completion, and proofed personally by me. Everything I make, I wear for at least a day to make sure it’s comfortable and practical.


AA: What is something that you’d like to create but haven’t done so yet?

JN: I, quite literally, as I am interviewing, have my first corset in the works. I’m also working on finishing my Half Life inspired SP hazardous environment suit. I want to build a big wood and brass, power assisted steampunk armor that I can wear to conventions next. The question these days is no longer if I can do it, but if I can find the time to do all the things I want.


AA: Never enough time for all the cool things we want to do. How has your work changed over time? What are some key lessons you’ve learned along the way?

JN: Oh man, I started out using the leather remnant bags from craft stores. I’ve had to design so many things by taking wild guesses and watching tutorials online and learning from people who already excel in the craft. I could never even relate how much practical knowledge I’ve gained in the past 4 years, but I am so proud that I had people liking my watches straight out of the gate.


We’ll break here in our chat with James.

Join us next time as he shares more about his time on the show.


Keep up to date with James‘s latest news on his website. or

Also, check out his exhibit page at The Steampunk Museum.

Follow the latest news about the show on the Steampunk’d website.


Published in: on September 2, 2015 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview with Steampunk’d Judge, Kato, Part 2

Welcome back for the conclusion of our chat with model and entrepreneur Kato, one of three judges on Steampunk’d, the new steampunk reality game show from GSN.

Read part one here.


Airship Ambassador: As a judge on the show, what were the factors you used in assessing each contestant’s work?

KATO: Their understanding of the steampunk aesthetic, their ability to apply their own take on it and their craftsmanship with creating something of quality with limited tools and materials.


AA: How often was there some involved discussions amongst the judges in choosing a winning, or losing, design?

KATO: Every bloody episode! The amount of back and forth between Matt, Thomas and I was insane. We were allocated on-camera time to deliberate but the behind-the-scenes discussions continued and often ended in yelling at each other.


AA: Now THAT would be entertaining to watch! Of course, all the viewers would be yelling back from their couches and chairs, too. What are some memorable moments you had during filming?

KATO: The energy became more and more intense each episode as the contestants were put under greater pressure, so in attempt to counteract that, there was often a lot of banter and humour between the other judges and I and sneaky jokes with the contestants. By the end of filming, we had several inside jokes and quotes and the audio tech people had to put up with all of it as we were miccd the entire time.


AA: Fellow judge, Matt King, mentioned that you and he would do Alan Rickman impressions of feedback to the contestants. We really need to get a recording of that! Were there any items that you just craved to take home with you?

KATO: Yes! I can’t spoil the show and tell you which items, but if you watch each episode, you’ll know for sure!


AA: How much did you get to interact with the contestants, other judges, and the production crew?

KATO: I could only interact with the contestants during work assessment, presentation and elimination. That was kind of brutal because I loved (almost) all of them and just wanted to hang out or assist them in their creative process. I spent A LOT of time with my fellow judges because our dressing rooms were all next to each other and a fair amount of time with the production crew, who were just fantastic.


AA: What were some challenges for you personally during the filming?

KATO: The most challenging factor was trying to make the most educated decision I could on which contestant would be the next to be eliminated based on what little time I was able to spend on set with them. I wasn’t able to witness everything that went on during each challenge, so it was painstakingly difficult at times.


AA: When people watch Steampunk’d, what would you like for them to take away from the show and what was created that they could apply to their own work?

KATO: I would hope that this show will introduce mainstream America to the genre of Steampunk and inspire people to create their own pieces and apply it to their own homes and lives.


AA: How was it coming home and getting back to your regular schedule and life?

KATO: I was happy to return home. I actually took a 5-day trip up the California coast, calling in on friends along the way and stopping at a few beaches to swim in the ocean. As soon as I arrived back in Olympia, I was packing and prepping for the next appearance at a Steampunk event in Utah.


AA: Life can be rough like that J What suggestions do you have for people who are thinking of applying for a possible season 2?

KATO: Be confident in your talent and ready to learn. Be prepared to adapt and pick up new skills as fast as possible and be ready to work under incredible pressure.


AA: Now that the show has wrapped, what comes next for you?

KATO: I’m wrapping up convention season at the end of September and then I’ll hopefully have finalized a massive new licensing deal for Steampunk Couture that’s currently in its first phases. If that goes through to completion, it’ll mean a complete business change for me. That’s all I can say at this point without jinxing myself.


Best of luck with the new venture, Kato! Thanks for joining us in this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!

Keep up to date with Kato’s latest news on her website.

Also, check out her exhibit pages at The Steampunk Museum.

Follow the latest news about the show on the Steampunk’d website.



Published in: on August 28, 2015 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Steampunk’d Judge, Kato

This week we are talking with model and entrepreneur Kato, one of three judges on Steampunk’d, the new steampunk reality game show from GSN.


Airship Ambassador: Hi Kato! I’m so glad you could join us, it’s great to catch up with you again!

Kato: Hi Kevin! It’s my pleasure.


AA: What an amazing experience to be on the first steampunk reality show on TV. As a brief summary, how was it for you?

KATO: Oh my goodness, where do I start? It was an honour to be chosen as a judge on the show and although I’ve been involved in the film and television industry before, I’ve never been in front of the cameras, so this was new territory for me.


AA: We’ll talk more about the show in a bit but first, how long have you been involved in the steampunk community and what brought you into it?

KATO: I’ve been a part of this wonderful scene for exactly ten years after I created the very first steampunk clothing company.


AA: And that would be Steampunk Couture. What is your background and experience in designing and creating things, and how did that lead you get to create your own company?

KATO: I studied fashion and textiles at art school in the UK and was hell bent on becoming a fashion illustrator, but found myself leaning toward the role of designer after teaching myself to sew and eventually discovering that my passion is for business investing and start ups. I eventually created an S Corp to house all the brands I now own and the majority are Steampunk-themed.


AA: That’s a nice transition from finding and pursuing your passion to making it all happen for yourself and having control. What is it about steampunk as an aesthetic that appeals to you?

KATO: It’s a beautiful and unique style that stands out from the crowd yet is timeless and respectful. It’s one of those aesthetics that has something about it that appeals to almost everyone who beholds it.


AA: What are some designs or materials that tend to really capture your interest?

KATO: I’m currently obsessed with the more post apocalyptic lean that current steampunk fashion trends are taking and excited about pushing those boundaries in my work and expanding people’s view of what Steampunk styles will look like tomorrow, so in terms of materials I drool over distressed leathers and patina’d hardware


AA: The post apocalyptic 1800s look isn’t seen much at conventions. It will be intriguing to see your new pictures. What is something that you’d like to create but haven’t done so yet?

KATO: I can’t tell you that or I risk some talented maker stealing the idea when they read this interview. ;) But the in-the-works items are playing cards and collectable figures as well as two new brands.


AA: It’s always important, and fun, to create new products. How has your work changed over time? What are some key lessons you’ve learned along the way?

KATO: I’ve just continued to push and expand my own understanding of what I deem to be Steampunk in style. It’s no good re-creating the same thing we’ve seen other artists create. Key lessons I’ve learned along the way are business streamlining. There’s no joy or benefit to reap in being successful if you don’t know how to play the IRS game.


AA: How did you first hear about the show and the opportunity to actually be on it?

KATO: The network kept pestering me! Actually, Pink Sneakers approached me a year prior in regards to wanting to create a docu-follow show around my photography company. They were looking to house me and several of my models in one abode and film us “getting along” with each other. It was to be called “The Steampunk House”. The outline and character bios were established for the show but then it inspired something even bigger and they asked me if I’d like to be a contestant on this new show. I said, “no, but if you need a judge let me know” and I got the part.


AA: What was your interest or motivation to be on the show?

KATO: My erotica work utterly dominates everything else I do as a professional business person, so my personal motivation to be on this show was to let the Steampunk community know that I do a lot of other things than just get my huge knockers out sometimes and that I actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to the steampunk work and creative, multi-media practices.


AA: Haha, it’s certainly reassuring to most, and probably confusing to some, that lurking behind the supermodel looks is a savvy and creative entrepreneur. All steampunks can take inspiration and motivation from what you’ve accomplished. Once you were selected to appear on the show as a judge, what preparations did you have to make before you left for Los Angeles? What were you leaving behind or had to put on hold while you were away for filming?

KATO: I take pride in being a little savvy when it comes to my business running itself in my absence, so I just had to debrief my awesome staff a couple of times before I abandoned them for a whole month. I had, however, just bought my first house so it pained me to leave that behind when I’d only just moved in days prior to leaving.


AA: Can’t wait for the housewarming invitation! Without giving spoilers, what interesting things might viewers see in each episode?

KATO: They’ll see amazing use of innovation, improv and skill development. Some makers arrive with one specialized talent and leave as freakin’ experts.


Time for a quick break in chatting with Kato.

Join us for the conclusion where she talks more about being involved with the show.


Keep up to date with Kato’s latest news on her website.

Also, check out her exhibit pages at The Steampunk Museum.

Follow the latest news about the show on the Steampunk’d website.


Published in: on August 26, 2015 at 5:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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