Stephen Wiltshire: A Rare Artist Who Draws Incredible Cityscapes From Memory

Stephen Wiltshire with his New York City cityscape.

One of Stephen Wiltshire’s works is a 19-foot drawing of 305 square miles of New York City viewed from above. He had only a short 20-minute helicopter ride prior to commencing the drawing process and, of course, his incredible memory to use as a reference. (Image: via Stephen Wiltshire)

He also wrote a book about his life, Stephen Wiltshire: Autobiography. In it, he talks about his childhood, struggles, and journey to becoming one of the world’s most renowned artists.

Stephen Wiltshire is a remarkable example of resilience and determination. Despite his autism, he has achieved success and recognition for his work. He has also inspired many people, especially those with autism. 

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An extraordinary ability

Artistic savant geniuses remain fascinating and unexplainable. Savants have an extraordinary ability to recall visual details, contributing to their creative talents. One such once-in-a-lifetime artist is Stephen Wiltshire. He is a British artist who can draw incredibly accurate cityscapes from memory, sometimes after briefly observing them. Stephen has become famous for his pen-and-ink city panoramas that are extraordinarily detailed, down to the number of floors in every building.

Stephen Wiltshire’s childhood

Stephen Wiltshire was born in April 1974 in London, UK. At the age of three, he was diagnosed with autism. He joined Queensmill London School as a 5-year-old, and it’s here that drawing seemed to calm him down. Pen and paper became his medium of communication, and soon he could do better than his older contemporaries. His passion for art was so intense that he developed communication skills using words related to his love. By age 9, he could fully communicate.

From that early age, Stephen’s drawings of animals, buses, and buildings were well beyond his years. At 6, he drew an incredible facade of the department store Selfridges. Finally, at 7, he became more fascinated with drawing London’s landmark buildings. Stephen won several awards in art competitions, and the media started recognizing his talent. At 8, then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher commissioned the young artist to make a drawing of Salisbury Cathedral.

The Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.
The Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. (Image: via Stephen Wiltshire)

A memorable career

Stephen seems to have an innate understanding of buildings and city layouts. At 12 years, he took a 10-minute helicopter ride over London for the documentary Fragments of Genius. Afterward, he created an elaborate and perfectly scaled ink drawing of over 200 buildings and 12 landmarks in a 4-square-mile area of London.

Throughout his teens and adulthood, he has toured cities worldwide, doing what he does best. He has sketches of Paris, Venice, Edinburg, Singapore, Hongkong, Los Angeles, and many more. Impressively, he drew the Vatican and St. Peter’s Cathedral from memory in Rome. But this list would be incomplete without his all-time favorite city — New York. 

The art of memory

One of the most remarkable things about Stephen’s artwork is his impressive recollection of minute details. In addition, he has an innate understanding of buildings and city layouts. When touring cities, Stephen sometimes lets people observe him as he creates his masterpieces.

He was commissioned to create Singapore’s skyline artwork to mark the country’s 50th anniversary in 2015. At this event, he attracted over 150,000 visitors for five days. In 2006, Queen Elizabeth named him a Member of the Order of the British Empire to honor his contribution to art. 

Books and exhibitions

Stephen is not only talented, but he works very hard. Besides his exhibitions, he has books like Drawings, Cities, Floating Cities, and American Dream, where he showcases both real and imaginary cities. He also wrote a book about his life, Stephen Wiltshire: Autobiography. In it, he talks about his childhood, struggles, and journey to becoming one of the world’s most renowned artists.

Today, he continues to work on more commissions, and you can find his art in many galleries worldwide. You will find him working at his gallery in London between his exhibitions. 

stephen-wiltshire
An aerial view of London. (Image: Stephen Wiltshire)

The inspiration of Stephen Wiltshire

Stephen Wiltshire is a remarkable example of resilience and determination. Despite his autism, he has achieved success and recognition for his work. He has also inspired many people, especially those with autism. He has worked hard and is passionate about what he does. He has shown that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. 

Conclusion

Stephen Wiltshire is a rare artist who draws incredible cityscapes from memory. His passion for art and his determination to succeed have made him one of the world’s most renowned artists. He has inspired many people, especially those with autism, never to give up and keep striving for their dreams.

He says he appreciates his gifts and the people who have made his dream come true. “I get to meet many people as an artist,” he says. “When I win an award, I value the opportunity to go on stage and thank everyone who believes in me.”

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