When Ian berry came to Sweden for two years ago was he tired of his work as an art director. He resolved to invest in his dream to be an artist. Blue jeans is his material and his work is now selling all over the world..
The story about Ian Berry is a classic success story. It has only lasted a few years (working full time professional) but it's already a success. Ian makes pictures of jeans fabric. He cuts and glues with a kind of collage technique with layers on layers. The motives is taken from own experience. Places he have visit or lived at which he have taken photos of.
The pictures are complicated with small details, as in a scene from an industrial area with derelict buildings filled with graffiti in big letter on the facade. - In front of the buildings is an infinite amount of small cobbles and Ian Berry has brought back to life every stone with small, small pieces of worn denim. From afar it looks like a photo in blue and white color shades, but if you come closer can you see that the jeans are applied in layers which gives the picture a depth that would be impossible to achieve in conventional paintings.
In short I'm right impressed with his pictures and his technique. We meet up in his studio which also is his and his girlfriends Asa's apartment in Landskrona. Where he has a room filled with broken and cut up denim in different blue shades. I ask him were he got all denim from, and Ian answers that about half of it is donations from friends and the rest is from different markets and vintage stores. But if he gets really interested in a pair of jeans in a store with a special shade he will buy it whatever the cost. His technique is quite unique, his pictures are becoming more and more detailed. In the spring he is showing in London, summer in Lund and the autumn in Portugal. At the moment he is working 14 hours a day to meet demand.
Ian Berry is born in Yorkshire, England in 1984. He got his degree in graphic design and got job at tmw as an art director. After a few years he got tired and went a year to Australia - to be more specific Sydney. He stayed the first nights at a Hostel were he met the young Swedish girl Asa. They kept the contact off and on and met up at few places before Ian went back to London. Now he had started to get tired of being an art director and had decided to go all in for his dream to become an artist.
I had been doing some pictures under weekends and evening, but now wanted to do it full time
From where did you come up with the idea to work in denim
It was when I should move from home. My mum had cleaned out my room when I came home for a visit. There were books in one pile, movies in another and my old and partially broken jeans. It was a high nostalgia as the same time I was thinking; I could do something from that.
I really like jeans. It so democratic, a garment that everyone can wear and its comfortable. Ian Berry did portraits of famous actors/actresses like James dean, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
It was no pictures he had planned to sell, but when he came to work to take photos of it, his pictures were detected by his colleagues and quickly sold.
Moved to Sweden
In January 2010 Ian traveled to Sweden, more specifically Lund where Asa studied at the university. There he started to make his pictures, first the view from the kitchen window in the flat and then different pictures from different parts of Lund. The material was different shades of blue jeans. When Asa then got a job in Helsingborg they moved to Landskrona and Ian got his first exhibition in spring 2011: a group exhibition followed by its own solo in the summer.
He showed portraits, views and urbanscapes. Of 31 pictures, 25 were sold, the success was a fact.
'Oj oj oj ' was peoples reactions he remembers from the exhibition. Skånska Dagbladet, Landskronaposten, City and Metro wrote with enthusiasm about the English jeans artist
After that there has been exhibitions in Sweden and also in USA and on Maderia, Portugal and more is coming up.
I ask how he works and Ian answers that his equivalent to the canvas is jeans fabric which he buys by meter, which he cuts attached and stretches around a frame. That is his base: Just like how artist use paint work.
Then he cuts his pieces of jeans fabric and glues to the base.
Complicated and detailed pictures can take up to a few weeks and some time months before it's ready.
- What kind of tools are you using
- I'm using really sharp scissors
- Are you not tired in your fingers??
- Yes I get blisters in my hands, especially when I cut very detailed pictures all day long.
Now I want to make bigger pictures
I asked Ian how he wants to improve his jeans art and he told me that he wanted to make bigger pictures, so he can get more life in to them. He is looking for a new studio and when he has found that will he go up in size. Then I also can get in more people in my pictures. It's hard to cut so small figures in the denim fabric. How is it with colors then, did I asked after have seen the picture of the art gallery Roda Sten in Gothenburg, with all colorful graffiti on, where Ian both used yellow, red and green. I can make a few pictures with more color in but I prefer the blue color it appeals to me more. Plus blue jeans are the classic jean.
He has just been in New Orleans and taken pictures of everyday life, so it will probably be a few pictures from their future. I want to depict the everyday life but seen in another material, says Ian Berry.
In this way I can combine two things that people experiencing every day and jeans. One of his inspiration sources is streetart, where graffiti is a part of it. It definitive not postcard pictures I'm looking for, with places I have an relation to. Where I have lived and worked. My art can maybe be seen as a story about my own life. A kind of autobiography if one want to say so.
Picture 1 Ian berry in his studio. In the background a copy in jeans of Picassos famous Guernica a painting Ian admires.
Picture 2 Jeans in English is denim. The English world for jeans is denim, consequently has Ian Berry chosen his artist name Denimu. His webaddress is www.denimu.com (the Japanese for denim is denim - where the name really comes from!)
Picture 3 several shades of blue detail from Ian Berry's studio.
A native of England, and now lives in Sweden, Denimu is attracted to the color of its democracy, rich or poor hierarchy, age, old and young, everyone has the right to wear jeans. For him, art should also be the case, at least as a jeans creative artist, he believes their artistic continuation of denim for all and connects to all "spiritual task". Therefore, in June this year when his work was to display at a gallery in Landskrona, he wanted to promote it to everyone, "I wanted the general public to see it, not just those who buy". In order to attract passers-by, Denimu came up with an ingenious publicity strategy, "I first thought of making posters in denim, but when I take into account the location of the posters, I began to worry about the posters covered by others, would people will get angry? I mean some people may spend a lot of money to print so I decided a few days before putting up posters to go out and see what my posters were going to cover up, copy them and then use the jeans to recreat their poster too, so their message could still be seen. Not everyone appreciated Denimu's kindness, his poster disappeared without a trace within a few days, or maybe they appreciated them too much? The exhibition was a success. In addition to the many visitors, Denimu's work was almost sold out.
He began 'jeans painting' six years ago, and has exhibtions in New Jersey, USA and Sweden, the following months now he is busy round the clock, almost seven days a week, 16 hours a day wandering between the studio and the home of the four large wardrobes. Jeans from the dark blue, light blue, stone blue, dial white blue changing blue seized in the mountains meet the creative needs of the color, cut second-hand jeans patchwork, to make the highly three-dimensional picture. Occasionally, when he could not find your favorite denim, if you happen to find their own wearing jeans right, he will no hesitate to sacrifice the beloved (or even expensive), pants, and fulfill his works.
He now lives in a port town which has been a bit in decline since the former shipyards closed, but he does not mind, because he likes the old building. "painting, his line of denim scrap into the north wind in the wilderness; mottled embossed into buildings traces of weathering; fade uneven surface simply as uneven concrete wall. Cold vicissitudes through the rough texture of used jeans, old factories, old brick houses, the iron bridge and graffiti has been unprecedented and profound portrayed.
In addition, Denimu captures light and shadow, proportion and level of detail, more given to painting like a strong sense of reality, often to teach the viewer to feel the place in them.
Denimu likes the works of street artists and draws influence, like those works of the artists Vhils and Banksy's.
Denimu also has done a series called "Denim Icon", which includes the classic portrait of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, he explained:" A long time ago I made this collection. Both of them are super idol, totally iconic images, but this is not why I did them, it was because of their major connection with jean history. If it were not for them jeans may not be what they are today. "I really can not imagine the world will be like with everyone not wearing jeans!" This series is not yet complete so we will have to see who goes into the collection next.
He also says he wants to reduce the photo as a reference, to sketch and to be more abstract, as well as to study the more technical side of things, as if today I just found a better technique for doing the bricks , which makes me very excited ... "
Now, many years later he emigrated to
Sweden, after leaving his job as an art director in an advertising, to embark on the road of the artist. He
may get lonely working alone but is never bored, he's doing his favorite thing,
so now I am happy.
The World In Denim
But where does the idea of using the jeans to create the paintings? "About five years ago I was at my parents house and came across an old pile of jeans, ready to be donated to the Charity store. And that's where I got my shock. I was fascinated by the beauty of the fabric, from the multitude of shades and history those jeans you could tell. "From that moment with the help of scissors and glue Ian began to see the world in the form of jeans and transformed the old denim jeans into works of art.
Among his preferred subjects are the
Swedish landscape, to which he devoted the series "The Sights of Sound
"and portraits, including the famous homage to James Dean and
After five years of working in denim Ian
has collected so many jeans to be able to fill seven cabinets, and his works
have become a cult classic for many galleries throughout the world. In addition
to being exhibited in Sweden, works of Denimu have traveled in Portugal and
America and he will be showing in
The passion for jeans can take many forms. For Skåne-based Briton Ian Berry with the stage name Denimu, became a jean interest to art. He recently had his first solo exhibition in Landskrona and already has a whole range of offers from galleries around the world who want to exhibit his unique collage, where worn-out denim jeans get a second chance. Check out Denimu.com.
"I was always' into 'art', a phrase that concludes the interview, the artist behind it is who we now present: Denimu. Evocative of the fabric used as his base material for his work, he uses his chosen material denim along with adhesive.
Not fitting into possible notions of Arte Povera, Denimu practice figurative art using only denim. He comments about denim where he picked the name, practicing the art of portraiture and landscape: "Everything is denim". The 'canvas' is denim wrapped a wooden frame and then he uses shades of denim, glued to that base, to create the image. Therefore it's denim on denim.
The works continuously improves (he
identifies new developments from job to job) and also notes that, despite being
very impatient with the time devoted to each piece, and that the process needed
to achieve perfection he seeks, whether in landscape or in pictures, the more
demanding pieces turn out to be the favorites. "Now I want to develop
further, larger scale and match my styles", aiming also what he calls
"leaving room for error" away from so many deadlines. For as he says,
has produced almost exclusively for exhibition or for specific commissions -
see the Turned to Denim, from Snow White to Rapunzel (Fran Snovit till Rapunzel),
leaving pure experimentation on standby.
The ideal contact with the work of Denimu
will always be in real life - even though records abound online - so that there
is the perception of texture and depth and context to intervene which gets lost
in print or online.
The passion for jeans can take many forms. For Skåne-based Briton, Ian Berry with the stage name Denimu, a jean interest went further into art.
He recently had a solo exhibition in Landskrona and already has a whole range of offers from galleries around the world who want to exhibit his unique collage, where worn-out denim jeans get a second chance.
Check out Denimu.com.