If he had been simply painting on a denim canvas using blue shades, it would still be a marvel. But Ian Berry goes a step further; he uses pieces of denim material for his artwork. He rightly calls it ‘making art out of denim jeans.’
Born in Huddersfield, Kirklees, UK, and presently based in Poplar, East London, UK, Berry uses denim exclusively as his medium of art. For this unique artwork, he reuses all items made out of denim, such as jeans, jackets, and other items, creating stunning portraits, landscapes, and other subjects.
Berry became aware of denim as a medium of art when he was living with his family in Huddersfield. After his mother had sorted out his room, he observed a pile of denim clothes with different shades of indigo. This observation stuck with him. Once he entered the university, he started thinking of using denim in the artwork.
Berry started experimenting with denim when he was employed as an art director with TMW Unlimited and working on brands, such as British Airways, Guinness, Nissan, RAF, and Talisker whiskey. However, he was unable to pursue this, since he left TMW to work in Australia and then to Sweden. It was in Sweden that he started devoting full time to develop this form of art. His art is by no means easy and involves a lot of meticulous work.
Berry uses a variety of denim pieces of different shades to infuse contrast and shadow in his creations. This he achieves by cutting, stitching, and gluing different shaded pieces of denim in multiple layers. Such is the finesse of his work that to the viewers, his creations seem like indigo-colored oil paintings or blue-toned photographs.
According to Colin Fraser, his fellow artist, “(Berry) uses denim as a painter uses paint, but with a difference; he makes what I call ‘denImages’. The entire surface of these works is made from denim. The scissors are Ian’s paintbrush and he handles them with virtuosity.”
Much preparation goes into creating art with denim. Berry first makes a rough sketch and then selects the right denim samples of the required shades. In the next step, he cuts, trims, and glues these pieces according to what he has in mind, taking care of depth and space. The end result is a 3D indigo collage.
Berry works out of his studio in Poplar, East London, where he has thousands of pairs of jeans of different indigo hues, organized from light to dark. His source of denim are contributions from global brands, denim mills, charity shops, vintage stores, friends, and well-wishers.
Berry was adjudged a leading top 30 artist under 30 in the world. He was also a Rivet 50 winner that got him among the top 50 influential persons in denim in the world in 2019. His works are displayed in many galleries and museums across the globe. He also has many awards to his credit. His book, titled ‘Ian Berry | Denim on Denim’ is out in the market.