I recently learned of a fantastic London-based artist named Stephen Wiltshire. As when I first discovered Isabelle de Borchgrave, Stephen’s work blew my mind. Stephen Wiltshire is an man living with autism which was diagnosed at three years old. He did not learn to speak fully until age nine. His first teachers discovered his love of drawing and encouraged him to say words by taking his art supplies away forcing him to learn how to ask for them back. Hence, his first word was “paper.” Clearly, he is a kindred spirit of mine. Stephen’s autism has been credited with his incredible photographic memory. His genius is that he is able to recreate a place or an city on paper after flying over it by helicopter just once. His talent is undeniable.
How amazing is this drawing of Hong Kong?
I have a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and have always been fascinated by and in love with cities and the built environment. My favorite classes were urban design (thank you Dr. Hedrick) because while we drew layouts for neighborhood subdivisions and shopping centers and downtown pocket parks, I always saw the art in in it. Creating an environment for people to aspire to become best of themselves is the goal of true urban designers and architects. Stephen Wiltshire’s work has such a reverence for the scale of cities. From his drawings of the city as a whole to specific corners or streetscapes, there is a reverence for the built environment.
I love how he captures New York from the air . . .
and from the street.
I can’t stress enough that Stephen draws from MEMORY! I couldn’t draw a picture of my bedroom from memory and I see it everyday. I hope you spend some time perusing Stephen’s work on his website. One little tidbit of info I loved learning about Stephen is that he prefers using Staedtler pens for his work. I wish I knew what kind of paper he prefers.
I’m such a fan now and hope to one day get one of his original pieces. Maybe I’ll start with a postcard!