Believe it or not, all it took Stephen Wiltshire to draw the accurate and breath-taking image of the Aerial view of Montreal’s city landscape in Canada, is mapping out the city from his memory. This truly amazing talent of the one-of-a-kind artist who has autism and is mute is surprising everyone all over the world.
For some people, the breath-taking image above may be just another work of art. However, for the 44-year-old Stephen Wiltshire, his masterpiece is his unique way of communicating with the world. His incredible and remarkable talent serves as a proof that people with the same condition as Stephen, have their fair share of ability and are capable of succeeding in life.
The remarkable artist was born in London, the United Kingdom to West Indian parents. He was born without the ability to speak and share his thoughts in oral form. Due to his condition, he had trouble relating and connecting to the people surrounding him.
On top of this, he was diagnosed with autism when he reached the age of three.
Fortunately for Stephen, when his parents had decided to send him to Queensmill School in London, his teachers noticed how he enjoyed drawing. Learning about his interest, his teachers encouraged him to draw more. Soon enough, he got busy drawing animals, buses, and now, buildings and city landscapes.
His teachers then soon realized that this is his own way of connecting with the world. Not long after, his teachers thought of a smart way of engaging him to talk. One day, they took away all of his art supplies, in hopes that Stephen would feel compelled to ask for them. Lo and behold, Stephen uttered his first word: “paper.”
Through his supportive and dedicated teachers and family, he was able to learn to speak his full thoughts at the age of nine.
One of the special artist’s teachers was supportive of his abilities to the point of encouraging him to join art competitions even at a young age. The teacher’s admirable dedication paved the way for Stephen’s well-established career in the art industry. Eventually, Stephen won various awards and certifications at a young age.
In fact, at the age of 7, Stephen was able to sell his first artwork. A year after, he was commissioned to create a drawing of Salisbury Cathedral for the British Prime Minister. And at the age of 13, he was named by the former president of London’s Royal Academy of Arts as Britain’s best child artist.
“Stephen has no understanding of autism,” Says Annette Wiltshire, Stephen’s sister. “However he does understand that he is an artist, an artist in his own right and [should] not be labeled with this title. It’s important to concentrate on his talent and how he has overcome his hurdles.”
True enough Stephen’s autism is not the only thing notable about him. After all, the gifted artist draws his detailed and accurate city landscapes only days after minutes of looking at it. In fact, there was a time that he was able to illustrate the panoramic view of London, together with its 12 Historic landmarks and 200 buildings in just an impressive span of 3 hours.
“To watch the ink touch the paper, it’s almost like fine embroidery. You can actually see it develop, I never get tired of it.” His proud sister Annette added.
Aside from Stephen’s natural knack for arts, he also has a Ph.D. degree in drawing and printmaking from the City and Guilds of London Art School. “I’m very proud of my work,” Stephen exclaimed.
“It’s purely Stephen’s determination that he is where he is today.” Without Stephen’s dedication to his craft, he would not be awarded an MBE for services to art, or Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
“Do the best you can and never stop.” If there’s one tip Stephen has to all of the people who hear about his beautifully inspiring story, it is to never stop giving your best shot. Today Stephen is living his life to the fullest, enjoying his trips from one country to another, doing commision work after commission, as he passionately pursues his craftsmanship.
Watch the truly inspiring story of Stephen Wiltshire in a video from Vocativ. Be inspired by the man with a photographic memory, who communicates with the world through his astounding works of art. May his story motivate all of us to never give up in being faithful to our dreams, talent, and abilities.
Photo | Stephen Wiltshire