Ian Berry Reinvents Everyday Blue Jeans

When it comes to apparel, denim is a fabric that transcends class, gender, and race. Seen in almost every modern era of fashion, jeans are a staple that have outlived many trends. This universal fabric is the foundation for the work of London-based artist Ian Berry. Berry cuts up jeans, jackets, and other denim clothing to create realistic portraits, urban landscapes, and 3D installations. With over 12 years of experience working with denim, Berry has mastered techniques in making the textile look like photorealistic paintings. By choosing different washes and finishes, Berry is able to create shading and depth in his portraits. Reminiscent of Picasso’s Blue Period, his portraits of Debbie Harry and Marilyn Monroe convey an emotional turmoil and melancholy.

Berry has at least two thousand pairs of used denim in his studio that he sifts through to find the perfect shades for what he is working on. With a handcrafted approach, Berry uses scissors, glue, and stitching to patch together his collages. For larger installations, he has worked with laser technology to make the process easier. It can take several weeks to create his finished works with much of that time dedicated to picking out the perfect shades of indigo. Staying true to the social connotations of denim, Berry creates collages of urban settings and scenarios. Through depicting the streets of downtown Sydney, the inside of a 50s-style diner, and Londoners waiting for the Tube, Berry captures everyday urban life in the 21st century. 

The meaning and importance behind denim is what inspires Berry to create the art that he does. Jeans are a symbol of comfort and familiarity. As seen by its prevalence throughout history, it is a fabric for the people. Berry uses the weight and power that denim holds to make art that appeals to the masses in a way that makes them feel heard and understood.