Review of Stephen Wiltshire—The Autistic Artist
By: David K. Montoya

In honor of April being Autism Awareness Month, I have decided to do a review of an artist by the name of Stephen Wiltshire. His artwork is currently on fire in England and the UK as a whole. Even though with a four–year waiting list, his amazing pencil work of cityscapes (which are in near–perfect scale) are in high demand. Despite his success today, a couple of decades prior, while still in school his educators were lost in his academic direction. Stephen was diagnosed at three as having autism, he did not speak until the age of five when from nowhere Wiltshire said, "Paper." But, even with the developmental deficiency, he had the ability to render amazingly precise drawings of his instructors and wildlife,

Sometime later, Stephen found himself etching structures he saw with unbelievable detail. It is also worth noting that Wiltshire's elder sister, Annette, would take him to her friend's apartment (which was located on the 14th floor), specifically for the reason of allowing her brother to get a better view of the city. Introduced to this wide–spread angle, his passion transformed into an obsession.

Stephen did his first paid job at eight–years–old, from the British Prime Minister himself! In spite of the difficulty of speaking, Wiltshire (who was 13 at the time), had his work published for the first time—it was a book which featured his amazing art. It was around this period when the young artist really grabbed the public's attention, but it was at first his astonishing memory moreover than his drawings. While doing press, it was focused on that ability and the label as a savant.

When he was invited to do an interview in New York City, Stephen met with British neurologist and author, Oliver Wolf Sacks, and while in his home created what was said to be a perfect rendering of Sack's house, only after a quick look at it.

In Wiltshire's second publication, in the foreword, Dr. Sacks wrote:

The combination of great abilities with great disabilities presents an extraordinary paradox: how can such opposites live side by side?

When Wiltshire was in Venice in 1989, he drew his first panoramic drawing. From that moment forward, Stephen drew mainly panoramic views of cityscapes with precise detail (all created from memory), with all the streets and landmarks in the exact location the real ones resided. His talent was not limited to cities only found in England, he drew amazing visual replicas of Jerusalem, Sydney and, on a thirteen–foot canvas, Mexico City.

One of the most impressive feats of his ability, after a twenty–minute helicopter ride over New York, Stephen (while broadcasting it via streaming video with his webcam), transcribed everything he saw on a twenty foot long piece of paper.

Back in 2006, England's own, Charles, Prince of Wales presented Stephen as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (it is also, worth noting that there was debate that the reason behind not "Knighting" Wiltshire was because of his autism), this was for his amazing contributions to the world of art. Also, in 2006, now with a known public name, opened his own art gallery on the Royal Opera Arcade in London. Today, if you depart from London's Heathrow Airport, you will find a picture of Stephen greeting you. But with all of Wiltshire's success, he remains grounded and humble. His sister, Annette, who manages his previously mentioned gallery, said that, "Stephen is extremely humble and not fazed at all … fame hasn't altered his concentration or even made him nervous … I think it pushes his abilities even further."

And despite his Autism, with his fame, Stephen Wiltshire (who was unable to speak until five) is not only able to verbally communicate, but also speaks to millions around the world with his amazing artwork!