If you think your old jeans are only good for the dustbin, artist Ian Berry differs greatly differs with you. Instead of using paint, Ian uses denim jeans to create incredibly detailed pieces of art. For him, denim is an art with which to design portraits and landscapes using only bits of vintage denim. His art revolves around the depressing urban scene, usually representing the solitary and less enchanting side of the city life.
How he started
The Yorkshire-born Denimu, as he’s famously known, was always this kid with the dream of becoming an artist, yet he ended up going down into commercial advertising. His story simply began at home. Ian was planning to leave his mom’s house and go seek a job in London. Since he was leaving for good, his mom decided to redecorate his old bedroom and get rid of all his old stuff, including a large pile of jeans.
While cleaning out his room he noticed the different textures, shades and colors of the denim together. And that was the moment he thought the jeans would make a pretty interesting medium for a piece of art.
When he started working out the jeans, it was purely aesthetic. He was still feeling attached to some of his most favorite jeans and he didn’t want to throw them away, even though they didn’t fit anymore. They had a link to his memories throughout his past years.
Working with denim brought even more meaning into it. He realized that he was as comfortable using denim jeans in creating art as he was comfortable wearing them. When Ian sees denim, the only thing in his mind is how he would design something out of it.
Denim’s art technique
Ian’s work begins from photographs. Initially, he used to work with Photoshop to mark pieces out then he advanced to work directly from the colour photo, which he acknowledged is easier to visualize. The process is really technical and needs so much concentration. He can only work at one artwork a single time since he needs to focus on the kind of shade he’s using. On the off chance that he uses a wrong shade or loses one, the job will be as good as screwed up.
As an established artist, these days he enjoys plenty of jeans at his disposal which makes his work better as he can find various shades and textures that he needs. That suggests his work is now much easier but it’s not; it takes much longer to find and choose from the many options available.
Over time development
When he started, he could use blocked colors, of which the denim pieces remained the same shade. The end portraits usually looked like they were created using paint. He now varies the shades within the jeans and plays with high contrast that it becomes hard to tell whether his pieces are made out of denim.
On the subject matter, he began with faces of people who wore iconic in the history of denim, the likes of Marilyn and James Dean. Today, he tries to work bigger and put more emphasis into the work with city scenes. Such work contrasts with him personally considering he now lives in rural Sweden, yet the scenes he does features urban areas like London and New York City.
Ian’s work gained popularity a few years into the industry. That was good for him yet the pressure for exhibitions built up. He did a solo exhibition in London last year which wowed many art lovers who were craving for his work.
One of the featured work, Behind Closed Doors, is comprised of a series of opulent interiors and almost all of them had a lonely woman as the subject. However, the exteriors look glossy and that was the narrative of the pieces in this collection; to portray the gap that exists between perception and reality. You might look at someone’s life and think it’s beautiful, yet the truth is more complicated. The works are basically based along those lines.
Another work he exhibited is one he calls My Beautiful Launderette. It focused on the devastating cost of living in the city and the effect it brings to communities. The idea was the energy that used to exist in the city is now disappearing and he settled on the launderette to represent the idea. Launderettes were such places where people could meet and talk and get to know each other yet they are now disappearing. That’s the message.
Ian’s creative pieces certainly continue to attract many followers. From the technical brilliance he inputs in designing denim art to the emotional complexity experienced in the finished work, every piece triggers imagination and should be marveled in every home.