Justin Desper


BFA Alumni

Major: Textile & Fashion Design

Graduation Year: 2017

Artist Statement:

In the most basic of terms, my proverbial canvas is the human body. However, while a painter aims to cover their canvas, I choose to celebrate mine. Unlike a simple canvas, the individuals who wear my creations live rich, intricate lives, that for a brief moment I get to be a part of. I create every piece as an extension of the body it adorns, therefore my garments are only complete when they are on a person. However, I prefer to reject the label of fashion designer. In my mind, fashion is a loaded word with connotations of trends, marketability, and superficiality. Instead, I choose to concern myself with explorations of shape, form, and function. Through these explorations, my work undergoes changes that parallel the evolutionary steps of living organisms. I am at my happiest when my work takes on a life of its own, at which point it is no longer just my decision to continue to explore and push forward–the work itself begins to demand it. For my creations, it is a constant game of adapt or die, if a piece fails to hold my attention or stretch my boundaries, it must be revised or abandoned altogether.

I find endless inspiration in the world around me. Living things, technology, and science all compel me to create. If I stop creating my thoughts become clouded and I feel lost, in that way I am not so different from the creatures I take my inspiration from. We all share an instinctual need to press on.


Justin Desper is a Textile and Fashion Design graduate from Maine College of Art. He grew up in Kennebunk, Maine, and spent most of his summers working on the water at a kayak rental shop. After spending a few years studying the ocean and marine life in University of Southern Maine’s biology program, he realized he was pursuing an interest, not his passion. A life filled with costumes, masks, and making informed his decision to transfer to Maine College of Art to study fashion. Although initially interested in costume design, Justin’s focused has narrowed in on creating garments that stimulate his desire to explore form, function, and problem solving. With an appreciation for the body that his pieces adorn, Justin considers his models collaborators in his process of making and holds his collaborative relationships in the highest regard.