Ian Berry combines fashion with art, using denim exclusively as both his material and canvas. At first glance, many believe that his works are blue-toned photographs or indigo-colored oil paintings. But in fact, they are many layers, and shades, of denim jeans. Washed and faded, the pieces of jeans are assembled to create that painterly tone. Only when seen up close, the depth and texture of each piece are fully comprehended.
Berry tends to create melancholic urban scenes, often depicting a lonely or less glamorous side of city living. As such, his use of denim – an urban, everyday fabric – is poignant.
But his first denim artwork was the result of chance. Noticing a pile of old jeans and the contrasting shades of blue, Berry took a pair of scissors and glue and began experimenting. “At first it was just the simple observation, seeing the old jeans I used to wear piled up at my childhood home,” he further explained in an interview with Carved in Blue. “I decided to use the contrasting shades to make some simple artworks, but then while using it, it made me think of my own connection to denim. It was the only material I felt comfortable in and I transferred that to my work. Then I noticed other people’s reaction to denim and I feel there is something that draws them in, and that’s the denim. It’s so democratic and people seem to find a connection with it.”
His creations soon caught the attention of many, and while the works are painstaking to make he had been able to take a few commissioned portraits: Debbie Harry, Jennifer Saunders, Giorgio Armani, Lapo Elkann, and Brazilian model Giselle, to name a few.
“People often think I am a denim ‘geek’’ or fanatic,” he jokes. “I’m not in the same way as many. I’m also not as clued up on the ins and out of the industry as some would think. So in knowing what it needs, I don’t fully know from a really great insight point of view. That said, I really do think that much of the good work some people are putting into sustainability is important. I am fully aware of the dualities of denim, and it saddens me to see some places in China and India where there is so much pollution. From an art point of view as well as denim, I really am interested in the combination between the laser machines and laundry techniques.”
Take a look at some of his original artwork: