According to G. Bruce Boyer, real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose. Netherlands-based illustrator Tessa M. de Graaf understands this essence of style intuitively. Her illustrated subjects treat fashion as a means rather than an end—drawing attention to the ways in which attitude and confidence are the true forces behind fashion.

“Before I start drawing I collect pictures from fashion magazines/the internet (Pinterest/ Instagram),” she shared in an interview with I Love Illustration. “I don’t sketch with a pencil; I just create lots of silhouettes or faces with watercolor/ ink directly on paper.”

Her toolbox includes ink, watercolor, paint, crayons, and pencils, with the end result deliberately unpolished (because with real style—there’s never right or wrong).

According to de Graaf, her love of illustration sparked early on: “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 shared.

Having grown up, 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 says.

After working a short period of time as a freelance stylist, she decided to return to her original passion—illustrating. Combining both her passions, her work now spans around the fashion and beauty worlds, with clients like AvantGarde, Bijenkorf, Swarovski, Bordeaux, Femmesdusud, and Holland Herald magazine (KLM).