Stephanie Vandamme is a starting-out, mainly self-taught illustrator. Her work is organic, playful and pure. Raised in the small, sweet town of Deinze in Belgium and now based in Victoria BC, Stephanie likes playing around with scissors, glue, papers, pencils, paint etc….creating pieces of work that feel almost alive to her.
How did she come to be doing what she does now? Well for this, I have to tell you a bit of her story: way back in time when Stephanie (then named Nieke) was a little girl, she found out something special about herself.
Firstly, she noticed that there was something special going on with her ears. Before going to bed, her mom would ask her to take out her ears. She didn’t like that very much as everything around her would turn dark and silent. It made her feel scared and alone. The mornings were better, when her mom would put her (what she called ‘oortjes in Dutch) little ears or hearing aids back in. The little Nieke believed that she could hear with those ‘ear bananas’ as well as any other kid with ‘normal’ ears.
But then there was also something else - she loved to draw. It would make her feel happy and light. Especially because she could talk with the characters appearing on the paper and understand them, even without hearing-aids. Isn’t that wonderful?
While growing up art always kept a very special place in her heart. However, after high school, she made the choice to study occupational therapy. It felt like an ideal way to combine both her loves- ‘working with people’ and ‘being creative.’
At the same time there were also the weekly Friday evening drawing courses at the Art Academy, some exhibitions, and art friends to keep things going.
Art, however, kept knocking harder and harder at her door. That’s why now this Flemish immigrant has decided to do what she loves the most. That is drawing, making collages and assisting other artists with physical challenges to do what they love.