Interview with Steampunk’d Maker Niki Phillips, Part 3

Welcome back for the conclusion of our chat with Niki Phillips, 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.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.


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

Niki Phillips: A huge relief, I spent some much needed time with family & friends. My Mom passed away suddenly shortly after the show started to air, which has obviously put a huge hold on my creativity. I’ve been in a sort of fog, but life is getting back on track.


AA: I’m sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family. It definitely takes time to heal and move forward. What suggestions do you have for people who are thinking of applying for a possible season 2?

NP: Life is short, so try to enjoy the ride.


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

NP: I’m in the process of finishing up my Bachelor’s in Studio Art and possibly Grad School after that. I will always keep doing my costuming. It’s too huge a part of my life to ever stop.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk, what other interests fill your time?

NP: Reading, baking sweets, beer and wine tastings, historical reenactment, redecorating and remodeling my home, which is an ongoing (read: neverending) project. I’m teaching my son about books, art and cosplay, and hoping to see him one day get into this as much as I have.


AA: How do those interests influence your work?

NP: They inspire me, give me ideas, make me dream, live another life.


AA: There’s only so much time in a day what interests don’t you have time for?

NP: Oh! I wish I had more time to play video games, collect comics and ride horses. I used to ride when I was younger and it still holds a special place in my heart.


AA: What other fandoms are you part of?

NP: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Firefly, Star Trek and Star Wars (and I love both equally!), Adventure Time, Munchkin’s games.


AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?

NP: My Grandma Phillips was a super strong female role model for me growing up. She worked her whole life, all the while raising 3 boys and obtaining several degrees. She also drove like a bat outta hell up until 6 months before her passing at the age of 85. Carrie Ann Baade is another, she’s a surrealist painter and her work and drive to make art is truly inspirational, and my Aunt Deborah as well because she is so loving and sweet, and always there for me if I need to talk. I derive a lot of inspiration from nature and animals, also.


AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?

NP: I recently started a new job as a Prosthetic and Orthotics Tech and I absolutely love it. The skill sets for the job crossover so heavily with costume design. I’m looking forward to being able to use what I’m learning for my cosplaying.


AA: That’s a great way to use your skills and experience in all new ways. Any final thoughts to share with our readers

NP: Just my favorite quote from the book Dune by Frank Herbert. “I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the littledeath that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” I read this book when I was in my teens and this quote has stuck with me throughout my life. I would repeat it like a mantra sometimes on days when things got rough or life was a little too hectic. So, remember to stay strong because you will make it through. Whatever it is, face your fears headon. Life really is too short, not even a blip on the radar in the journey to the stars.


The Dune quote is quite memorable and something everyone can use throughout life.

Thanks, Niki, 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 Niki’s latest news on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

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


Published in: on November 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Steampunk’d Maker Niki Phillips, Part 2

Welcome back for part two of our chat with Niki Phillips, 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.

Read part one here.


Airship Ambassador: Pop Magnet was the casting company chosen by Pink Sneakers, the production company, to find candidates for the show. What can you share with us about the interview process that you went through with them?

Niki Phillips: We were told we would go through a challenge test, under a 6 hour time limit, to steampunk-out an ordinary, everyday item with limited materials and tools at our disposal. Let me tell you, the materials were very limited, but that’s part of steampunk… thinking outside the box. I got really into it and just dove in!


AA: The final part of the selection process was a sample challenge to steampunk a common everyday item. What was your item and what did you do with it?

NP: I transformed a hot pink, camouflaged patterned kids backpack into the steampunk leather pack of a world traveler. I covered it completely in leather pieces of different shades of brown, from a deep, dark brown to a light tan. I hand stitched and riveted over the entire backpack, painted it in places to add depth and effect, added extra pockets it didn’t have originally. I wanted it to really look aged, well used, pieced together and like it belonged to a traveler who was mostly on foot. I wanted that backpack to look like it could tell you some great stories if it could talk. Every knick on it surface or restitched seam had a story to it, and its pockets a well used purpose.


AA: Once you were selected in the final ten to appear on the show, 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?

NP: I had to make sure my son would be taken care of while I was gone, pay some bills ahead of time, and handle some things for my social media blog. My whole life got put on hold. I also usually spend those months I was in L.A. at home making new costumes for upcoming events in the fall or getting a head start on things for the beginning of the following year, so I had to push some projects back.


AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things might viewers see in the episodes you were in?

NP: My facial expressions. I giggled at some of my responses.


AA: What are some memorable moments you had during filming?

NP: I really enjoyed meeting everyone on the show, getting to know a little about everyone’s background.


AA: What are some factors that you had in common with the other contestants or set you apart?

NP: I’d say my experience working with certain of the materials such as long-pile faux furs, rubbers, vinyls, a lot of hand sculpted pieces and custom pattern drafting is what set me apart from some of the other contestants. But we all love the steampunk genre, and that intense joy in and passion for our fandom is what I had in common with the other contestants.


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

NP: Being away from my family; with the time zone difference, I only got two times to talk with them. That was really hard for me. The food provided was a lot of take out and I hardly eat take out food ever, so that was really hard on my stomach. Not to mention I am a huge coffee fiend and not getting my normal coffee allowance a day was … unpleasant.


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?

NP: I want people to realize that this is a reality tv show first, and that not everything is as it appears on the show. It’s there for the entertainment value. I hope that the viewers will be inspired to create their own costumes and props. We spent so much time helping each other out and almost none of that was aired on tv. I wish the camaraderie of steampunk was a bigger part of the show and that it had been less drama driven.


We’ll pause here in talking with Niki.

Join us for the conclusion when she talks about the returning home and upcoming projects.

Keep up to date with Niki’s latest news on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

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

Published in: on November 9, 2015 at 7:56 pm  Comments (1)  
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Interview with Steampunk’d Maker Niki Phillips

This week we are talking with Niki Phillips, also known as Lady Hawk, 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 Niki, thanks for joining us this week.

Niki Phillips: Hello Kevin! Thank you it’s an honor!


AA: It’s always an amazing experience to be on the ground floor of a brand new project. As a brief summary, how was it for you to be on the first steampunk reality show on TV?

NP: It was intense, sleep deprived and inspirational.


AA: How long have you been involved in the steampunk community and what brought you into it?

NP: I’ve been involved in the steampunk community for about six years (2009) now, but have known of it for a bit longer.


AA: How long have you been building and creating things, and how did you get started?

NP: All my life. I’ve always had a drive to make things with my hands. As far back as I can remember, I’d spend the longest time trying to figure how to get a drawing just right, I’d spend hours hand sculpting clay figures. I made this 2 foot ceramic sculpture of a gargoyle for my mom when I was 12. She kept it out in the garden till nature eventually caused it to fall apart. When I hit college, I became fascinated with Asian culture and came across pictures of Japanese kids cosplaying. I was hooked at that point and I started creating my own crazy costumes and outfits.


AA: That’s a great way to get started, and nice that your mom was so encouraging. What is it about steampunk as an aesthetic that appeals to you?

NP: I’ve always had a strong attraction to the Victorian aesthetics and that overall time period. I love how that time period really kept people well rounded, you worked your whole life, used your hands, everything was well made and people took pride in their skills. I try to apply that to my life.


AA: There’s definitely a lesson in that as people made the most of their life and their own skills. What are some designs or materials that you tend to work with the most?

NP: I work mostly in fabrications, pattern drafting and modification but also some leather work and prop building.


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

NP: My work always tends to skew a bit towards the darker side of humanity. Even if I go into a project telling myself I’m gonna put more color and lace, I end up cutting all that out and the outcome is more of a Gothic Steampunk personality, sometimes with a touch of a post-apocalyptic/dieselpunk feel.


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

NP: I’d like to tackle Lady Hawk’s version of Steampunk armor for women. I’m dying to do this, the steampunk armor is one of the biggest attractions for me… besides the ahem corsets and bustles… All the imagination that goes into the design, the fun little moveable dodads and gizmos. I wanna make some crazy, dead-sexy armor.


AA: That’s going to be great to see, and I’m sure people will follow your progress on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. How has your work changed over time? What are some key lessons you’ve learned along the way?

NP: I see that my skill in sewing has only gotten better. I’m not afraid to completely screw up a project just to see if an experiment will work out how I hope it will. Whether that means drafting my own pattern, modifying a pattern or experimenting with some new technique to get a desired effect. If you hold yourself back too much, you may never learn anything new about your potential. I will also go into a field I have never worked in before and give it a go. If I suck at it I suck. If it turns out it works for me and gives the effect I’m looking for, then I have gained a valuable new skill. I always want to learn new skills.


AA: Viewers of the show know that you were eliminated in the second episode, but let’s start at the very beginning of the process. How did you first hear about the show and the opportunity to actually be on it?

NP: A friend mentioned to me that they were possibly looking for more female contestants for the show. I went in not expecting to hear anything back.


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

NP: I was hoping to meet other fellow steampunks with the same passion for the genre as I have and hopefully learn some new tips for creating fantastical masterpieces, and I ended making some wonderful new friends!


We’ll pause here in talking with Niki.

Join us next time when she talks about the casting process and the initial skills challenge.

Keep up to date with Niki’s latest news on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

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


Published in: on November 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm  Comments (3)  
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