A warm welcome to FINDING CALAIS, a go at steampunk belle-époque.
This is the home of the project online. Check back in from time to time, and you’ll see the Calais of Carentan unearthed frame by frame. Calais has existed in the mind of writer-illustrator Justin Tiang from his days of doodling in his math textbooks. It is a city of craftsman whimsy and classicalist ornamentation, a hushed and cloistered realm of wonder, serenity and music glinting softly in the heart of a dark and shrouded continent. Finding Calais runs on a solemn pledge to Wonder, and there’ll be no shortage of that in the places you’ll be visiting.
(#For the millenials:)
#airships #belle-epoque #wonder #whimsy #steampunk #baroque #fantasy #more-airships #natural-history #art-deco #oldNYC #el #trains #retro #dieselpunk #age-of-exploration (#with-airships)
..And here’s a quick FAQ on the project. Do let us know if you have a question for us you don’t see here.
1. What is Calais, what is Carentan, and what is Malendar?
Malendar is a deco-esque metropolis perched atop the mighty prow of the Calenbar plateau. It is the capital of Federate Iara.
Carentan is the immense, fog-shrouded continent due south of Iara. The city dubbed the Calais (capital) of Carentan is a quiet realm of impossible and unlikely wonder said to exist somewhere in its dim centre.
2. How do you pronounce ‘Calais’? Isn’t it a French city?
Certainly, one Calais does exist in our world. It is across the Channel from the cliffs of Dover, and the French should tolerate an attempt at ‘Cal-lay’. However the Calais of Finding Calais is not in France, and so it is said as English as you like.
3. What is Finding Calais?
Finding Calais is a project to document the Calais of Carentan, and (along the way) other locations of note that share its world. The result is a hefty case file for any geographical society — one that continues to grow as paintings, drawings, and notes are added to it. Do look out for the narratives preserved between the pages. Many names recur, and a good deal of the content we’re managing to gather can be traced to one Adrian Faust (also known, in other capacities, as Ambrose Hall). Ere his disappearance he had a billet aboard the celebrated airship Hollander, and much has been told through his eyes.
4. What does Finding Calais hope to do for OUR world?
Pretty long answer!
In essence, it hopes to i.) Help keep some wonder alive in a world which thinks it’s seen it all, and ii.) put a word in for aesthetic tradition.
Two very humbling primary objectives, really… the secondaries will come and go.
i.) As mentioned, Finding Calais runs on a solemn pledge to wonder. A crucial human quality that is lacking in today’s cramped, homogenising, jaded world. In discovering brave new places, we hope to channel what remains in our collective hearts of the spirit of the Belle Époque — the beautiful age — the age of the great expositions. The Belle Époque was a time of unbridled optimism and touching innocence. It was the day of the steam engine, the tram, the first electric lights.. and humanity shrugged the trammels of gravity and took to the skies. You didn’t need a point to it - you were in that moment simply fulfilling the dreams of billions who’d come before. Inequalities existed, as they always had, but for the first time in the joint annals it seemed reasonable to declare that things would get steadily better for everyone. War was at an end (we knew better!), the factories were humming with unprecedented new technology, countries were working together or at least competing on the same field. It was an age when one felt confident enough and dignified enough to stack each and every gleaming chip of progress diligently (but not TOO carefully) upon what had come before. You didn’t eschew the wisdoms of the ages; you inherited them.
In Finding Calais, we hope to revive a sliver of that fresh-faced, earnest wonder.. a spirit of discovery, if you will. We want to suggest to the modern world that no, you haven’t charted the globe, you haven’t done it all. You’re all still very small and very vulnerable amid the immensity of creation. There’s MORE out there yet to see, explore, and do.
It is worth a try!
ii.) Finding Calais’s second object is an appeal to us not to discard aesthetic tradition.
We have, of late, raised too many skyscrapers that look like twisting cucumbers with holes in them. We spend so much time in our cities, but allow fads and corporate interests to deface them on a whim. Modernity’s spurning of tradition in fields like architecture, visual art, and music has gone on for so long that we are in real danger of losing all that we’ve learnt from millenia of experimentation and best practice in the direction of more humane, emotionally resonant lived environments. To whit, we no longer know or want to go the extra mile building features of our civic landscape that can be cherished heirlooms of a people for centuries. (thinking about Notre Dame here :/)
As is becoming of all steampunk, Finding Calais supports the craftsman tradition. Spending time and effort on things that matter to you is not wasteful, but a virtue in itself evocative of a well-tended garden. If you spend time around said garden, you accept ownership and responsibility of it, and it becomes a source of pride and identity. Classical ornamentation and architecture across cultures is our heritage, and has survived through time for its ability to appeal to our minds and senses. It is not elitist by nature for taking greater time and resources to plan and execute, because the rich do not have a monopoly on beauty. The fruits of spending time, care, and love on the built environment are enjoyed by everyone who shares the civic landscape.
Standing with aesthetic tradition does not mean rejecting subjectivity or innovation. It means, most simply, that we know what has worked before, and apply that knowledge. Inherited wisdoms should not be thrown away or thought irrelevant.
5. That sounds like an ambitious deal of work. Who’s behind it, and how can I be a part of it.
Finding Calais is one of two lifetime projects from Singaporean writer-illustrator Justin Tiang (the other’s rather more local in persuasion). Justin is a concept artist by training, and has worked both freelance and in-house on games, film, and animation IPs since 2015.
Finding Calais is an entirely self-funded venture, and will require community support to keep it going. The artmaking and research planned for it would easily take the hours of a full-time job. If you connect with the world and its ideas, you can:
i. Join the budding Patreon community as a founding member! Patreon is by far the most direct way for you to support and participate in the creative process behind the project. It is kept stocked with exclusive content and works-in-progress that you are invited to voice your thoughts on.
ii. Own a bit of it! Art prints go on sale on Redbubble, and framed variants on Society6.
iii. Leave a tip of support in Justin’s ‘About’ page here :)
iv. Simply share the news with anyone who might be interested! Which leads us to:
6. Where can I keep up to date with Finding Calais?
This page, certainly! Patreon included, it is one of four continuously-updated galleries that host content from the project.
i. PATREON (includes exclusive content, WiPs, and community participation):
https://www.patreon.com/tiangpong (launches on 12 June 2019)
ii. PRIMARY SITE:
You’re already here! Here’s the URL: http://www.tiangpong.com/findingcalais
iii. DEVIANTART SITE:
This is where it all began, really. URL at https://www.deviantart.com/28crucis
iv. FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/findingcalais/ (launches on 12 June 2019)
For ART PRINTS:
Framed prints on Society6: https://society6.com/tiangpong
For quick content and art randoms, you can follow Justin on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tiang.pong/.
Conventions will be announced at least two months prior to the events.
* For the third quarter 2019, Justin is scheduled to exhibit at the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln, SilwerSteam in Eskilstuna, and the Hastings Steampunk Circus of Curiosities. More on these exciting events soon. *
If you’ve come this far, thank you kindly for bearing with the information dump. Do take your time to have a look round the gallery. Speed well, and do visit regularly for updates!