Capturing the Essence of Fashion: Tessa M. De Graaf’s Illustrations

Tessa M. de Graaf’s fashion illustrations deserve more hype. Composed of loose lines and wide brush strokes, they capture the essence of fashion without being too much on-the-nose.

Based in the Netherlands, de Graaf admits to drawing more or less her whole life: “As a 3-year-old girl, I was drawing all day long and when I turned 16 years I attended various courses in figure drawing,” she recalled in an interview with I Love Illustration.

She went on to study at the AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) in Amsterdam, and later got a Master’s degree in Fashion, Design, & Strategy at ArtEZ in Arnhem. “When I went to the academy, fashion drawing and figure drawing were my favorite subjects,” she notes.

After a short internship at Cosmopolitan magazine, she started working as a freelance stylist. “But illustrating was what I loved most so after a few years of styling I decided to change course and started working as an illustrator,” says de Graaf.

Nowadays, her work combines the best of both worlds—fashion and art—with selected clients including AvantGarde, Bijenkorf, Swarovski, Bordeaux, Femmesdusud, and Holland Herald magazine (KLM).

Working with materials such as ink, watercolor, paint, crayons, and pencils, de Graaf’s practice is more traditional, as she admits to preferring to work with her hands rather than sit in front of the computer.

“Before I start drawing I collect pictures from fashion magazines/the internet (Pinterest/ Instagram),” she explains about her work process. “I don’t sketch with a pencil; I just create lots of silhouettes or faces with watercolor/ ink directly on paper.”

The end result, though quite simple, is striking. Scroll down to see some recent highlights on her Instagram page.