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Drawing creativity

There are several things that strike us when we go through the pages of an interesting portfolio. Sometimes it even starts before flipping through the pages, when the packaging or the cover is an art piece in itself. Other times it's the concept and how the research material, the imagery involved, the fabrics and the techniques explain it. But sometimes - and it does not happen often since this is a truly rare quality - we get face to face with such incredible hand drawing that we just stand in awe of such a gift

Because no matter what the project looks like in the end, these people are gifted with the ability of bringing dreams to life on paper. Hyper-realistic, surreal, comic-strip-like... regardless the style, there are a number of past finalists who, no matter what will happen with their fashion career, will always have something to go back to. And please do forgive us if we do not include everyone here. This cannot but be a small, subjective selection among other amazing illustrators in the ITS family like David Longshaw, Yong Kyun Shin, Anna Sheldon and many more...

When we first opened the portfolio of Katy Reiss in March 2007 and reached her sketch pages, we instinctively checked if she had enrolled in the wrong competition assuming ITS was some kind of Art & Illustration contest. But no, she had done no mistake, since the pages following those wonderful drawings showed a beautiful collection full of subtle details. But those drawings just stuck in our minds and we have never forgotten them ever since: beautiful watercolour birds which could have been featured in an encyclopaedia of ornithology and astounding sketches of her collection pieces appeared to have been drawn effortlessly. ITS was the starting point of a great career for Katy, who has been working for Lanvin ever since and there's no doubt that her drawing gift turned in handy for her job, despite her undisputed qualities in developing clothes.

If we had to start talking about Aitor Throup and what he is capable of doing if he's in the right mood for drawing, let's just say that he could simply leave product design (you would say he's a fashion designer, but he would rightly say the opposite) aside and become a renowned and admired illustrator. There's times when Aitor scarcely draws and other times when it's just like when we mere mortals scribble aimlessly on paper. The difference is that his aimless scribbles are jaw-dropping portraits or anatomical studies of the human body. The starting point for Aitor were stories and characters in his head which he began drawing. Fashion simply allowed him to drive the exploration forward and translate those stories and those characters into three-dimensions while developing his revolutionary function-driven philosophy (this is just a super-sum up of his work's concept by the way...). No surprise his illustrations are such an important part of his work and are dominant in his official facebook page, which features daily posts of his drawings.

Among the 2005 talents selected for ITS was Marcus Wilmont, now at the head of his own brand Aminaka Wilmont together with partner Maki Aminaka. When we first met Marcus at RCA in March that year, he was working on his graduation "Samurai-Aristocrat" collection which blew everyone's minds off in July grabbing the Fashion Collection of the Year award hands down. We had to persuade Marcus to enrol in ITS: until the last minute, he was totally focused on his work at college and was risking to miss the deadline to enrol, but we knew the quality of his work and strongly believed the jury would pick him. In the end we managed to have him send a portfolio. It was perhaps one of the sloppiest, most incomplete ones we have ever received... but in those few pages there were such amazing drawings of his, characters embodying his collection that appeared to have been stolen from some limited-edition comic book (Marcus has actually worked as an illustrator for comic strips). They were enough for the jury to believe in him and give him a chance. Which in the end, he totally deserved...

To end this survey, nothing better than the story of Eli Effenberger, quite an amazing one and partly surrounded by mystery. Israeli-born and a graduate from Hogeschool Antwerpen, Eli was a finalist at ITS#FOUR in 2005. But it was clear from the beginning that fashion would have been only a step of a journey which would have taken her in a different direction. That's because she wouldn't fit in the often loud, glamorous and success-driven world that fashion is and because her drawings are art pieces, making it not difficult to guess what she would have been doing in her future.
A quiet and shy personality, she won not one, but two prizes in that edition, the Special Jury Prize and the Maria Luisa Award. Even stepping on stage to receive them was a difficult task for her, not acquainted with all the attention and the spotlights turned on the winners. Not mentioning the usual Friday afternoon presentation - mic in the hand - of her collection to the jury. Rumours have it that a few months afterwards she just disappeared from Antwerp, her graduation collection thrown in the street like garbage. A radical rejection that brought her back to her true passion: illustrating and producing dolls (her ITS collection concept was also strongly based on dolls), which she now and then dresses up keeping a vague trait d'union with her fashion background. We only need you to see her illustrations here and her porcelain dolls on her blog here. They surely prove she is on the right track in her life.

The gift of drawing as shared by the above-mentioned finalists is uncommon. It is a special gift, unlike many others: what amazes us is that everyone on the planet will always recognise it as such. Regardless of their education, culture, nationality, opinions, tastes or age people always stand in awe when they see an amazing drawing, just as they stand in awe when someone plays an instrument beautifully, or has an amazing voice. They will identify these talents without fail, knowing they have a special quality.

Concerning the talents we focused on above what people might not know is that drawing isn't their only special gift...

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