A storyteller in the visual arts and the written word, young adult illustrator and author, Vesper Stamper, writes stories governed by truth that celebrate human perseverance. In the wake of COVID-19, Vesper’s stories of strength and spirit have never been more important. She illustrates characters in moments of vulnerability, and also triumph. Her brush leads us to places that are familiar, yet dreamlike.
Poetry in Motion
In the spirit of National Poetry Month, Vesper (a loyal ModCloth customer) is turning to beloved books and reflecting on her favorite works. One she is reaching for is Emily Brontë’s poem, No Coward Soul is Mine.
“Brontë was incredibly tough—she endured an intense amount of suffering—and she poured it all into her unique, passionate way of writing. What you see is what you get. That’s why I chose her poem ‘No Coward Soul is Mine.’ It’s defiance based in a sense of ultimate safety, and I resonate with that.”
Vesper’s muse, Emily Brontë, wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell and was the fifth child of the Brontë children. Her most famous novel, Wuthering Heights, was published in 1847. Brontë’s life was stricken with personal trials, but the moxie of this historic author speaks to Vesper today.
“My early life was rough, and I’m always in pursuit of stories of thriving after trauma. I respond deeply to mental toughness and resilience, and that’s immediately apparent in Brontë’s work.”
With the anticipation of her latest book, launching this summer and available now for pre-order, Vesper never knew she would be living amid an international pandemic like a character she created.
In her book, A Cloud of Outrageous Blue, Edyth is living during the Great Plague of 1348. Like her character, Vesper strives to overcome the restrictions of isolation by turning to creative outlets.
“Everyone I know is throwing themselves into creative work of some kind. We’re hard-wired to make order out of chaos—it’s intrinsic to our humanity. And can you imagine what new things will come after this? We would never have had the Renaissance, the Enlightenment or the Scientific Revolution—without the Great Plague. It came at a terrible cost, but humanity rose from those ashes and changed the course of world history. We, too, will find new resilience in this.”
While she is painting, writing and harnessing her talents across various mediums, Vesper lives in clothing that reflects her art. Never feeling fully at home with fashion in a conventional sense, Vesper took refuge in her creative instincts, sewing her own clothing and thrifting.
“The fact that I studied so much art history meant that I had a different paradigm for beauty and self-confidence. You can’t study Rubens and Renoir without getting an appreciation for the female body.”
Vesper nods to the people and places she creates through her personal style. Her characters remain with her, even after they are fully formed on the page.
“ModCloth’s collection is so diverse, there’s always something that catches my eye and feels like something I’d draw on a character. I guess I basically try to look like I live inside my own drawings!”
And the formula for her tried and true look?
“I like my hair messy and choppy. My lips red. I love my curves and I dress in ways that flatter them and don’t either exaggerate or hide them.”
With pen and paintbrush in hand, Vesper is a mother and wife, always working to move her art forward while maintaining a work/life balance. On her podcast, VESPERISMS: The Art of Thinking for Yourself, Vesper reminds her listeners, “Work isn’t everything, but everything is work”.
Under a balance where time and productivity are often at odds, Vesper’s work is piloted by love.
“My husband and kids are my ultimate creative expression (which does not imply perfection, by the way!). It turns out that the long, hard slog of love is an excellent springboard for making art.”
Emily Brontë’s No Coward Soul is Mine
No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear
O God within my breast
Almighty ever-present Deity
Life, that in me hast rest,
As I Undying Life, have power in Thee
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears
Though earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be
And Thou wert left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.
Source: Poetry Foundation