Tessa M. de Graaf Colors Outside the Lines

Netherlands-based illustrator Tessa M. de Graaf manages to distill the very essence of fashion through her loose, dynamic work. Born and raised in a small village in the North of the Netherlands, she moved to Amsterdam at the age of 18 to study fashion. “When I went to the academy, fashion drawing and figure drawing were my favorite subjects,” she shared with I Love Illustration.

“After an internship at Cosmopolitan magazine, I immediately started working as a freelance stylist,” she added. “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.”

Now, residing in Alkmaar, she works for brands like AvantGarde, Viva, Elegance, Libelle, and Margriet. Though her work varies between each client, the process is more or less the same. “I focus on simplicity, less is more,” she says. “I prefer working with my hands and don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day.”

Her toolbox includes ink, watercolor, paint, crayons, pencils, and paper, with much of her work relying on intuition. “I like to color outside the lines,” de Graaf says. “I don’t sketch with a pencil; I just create lots of silhouettes or faces with watercolor/ ink directly on paper.”

Take a look at some of her work in the gallery below: