When I was growing up as a latch key kid in New York, two things formed my sense of place and identity in the world: my grandfather’s freckled arms and my picture books. There is something about visualizing a chosen reality that is so vital for kids as they transition from the Waldorf educational concept of the childhood dream-world to the brass-tacks world of adults. In a picture book, the world is presented as navigable, even through challenge. Whether the challenge is fear of closing one’s eyes to sleep, or losing a favorite bunny, or getting through the classic Grimms’ three-challenge arc, kids need to know that on the other side of something insurmountable is a green valley brimming with potential.
I am currently in the MFA program in Illustration as Visual Essay at School of Visual Arts, and most of the work I’m doing is a departure from my usual picture book work that you see here. I’m exploring my grandmother’s aging in one book project, and writing a love story set in post-Holocaust Germany which I will be illustrating this spring. I had a bit of a crisis about this, especially since I just signed with Rodeen Literary Management this summer and we’re just about to send one of my picture books out. But I realized that much of my work, even for kids, has to do with thriving after trauma, and that by exploring these more “adult” themes in my MFA, my picture book work will become more nuanced.
Far from being just about cute stories, picture books are the vehicle for survival for many kids as they were for me. That is why they are so, so
important. And…they’re gorgeous to look at!
Hopelessly lost among the wintry wardrobes of Pauline Baynes’ Narnia, Shaun Tan’s mysterious foreign lands, and the watery open spaces in Lisbeth Zwerger’s illustrations, Vesper Stamper’s calling as an illustrator began when she cracked open Hilary Knight’s Cinderella and spent the rest of her childhood meticulously copying each graceful page.
Vesper has a BFA degree in Illustration with Honors from Parsons School of Design. Her career has spanned fifteen years, dozens of album covers, four picture books and countless other exciting projects. Vesper brings a refined style and emotional depth to her work that pays homage to the rich illustrative tradition from which she comes.
Vesper was named the 2013 People’s Choice Finalist in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search and is the recipient of the 2012 Lincoln City Fellowship for her graphic novel, The Sea-King’s Children. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, filmmaker Ben Stamper, and their two children. She is the winner of both the 2014 NJ SCBWI Juried Show and People’s Choice awards, and is an MFA candidate in the Illustration as Visual Essay at School of Visual Arts, NYC.
Vesper is represented by Lori Kilkelly at Rodeen Literary Management, Inc.