POSTED ON Jul 3, 2019

When Denim Becomes Art – Jeroen De Boer

Not only denim can become art, but it can make the magic happen in such different and unexpected ways. For example, denim can become the canvas that an artist can use to start from scratch. We met Jeroen De Boer, founder of The Olifants, creative agency based in Berlin, who decided to use no paintbrush on this occasion: he showed us how he uses denim as an ingredient for creativity, making his scratched on denim portraits under our eyes. We met him and seized the opportunity to ask a few more questions about his art and his special relationship with denim.

What’s the technique you used to scratch on denim?
The Scratch & Jean denim fabric was quite an innovation for the market, and for me too. Being new to it, I used different tools to work it, like a sanding machine, different types of sandpaper, pumice natural stones, scissors, scalpels and knives! It wasn’t easy to find the right touch to treat this fabric: when you work on denim too carefully, you could get no effects, or otherwise if you press too hard, you can accidentally make holes in it. So this was quite an interesting quest!


Why is denim always hype?
Denim is always hype because of its value and versatility… And because it’s so easy to style it: you can always match any kind of shirt or shoes with a pair of jeans. 


What does denim mean for an artist?
I’m into denim for different reasons. First, I enjoy painting on recycled denim jackets. It reminds me of the old skool jackets made by graffiti writers for their crews during the ‘80s and the ‘90s: I’ve always been inspired by this movement. Second, denim is different from any white canvas you can paint on. As an artist I love getting out of my comfort zone, and denim gives me this feeling every time I work on it: I can use big denim cuts to paint on, or to scratch on… Or create something with the fabric itself, or customize a designer’s piece.

What’s the thing that makes denim the street favorite?
Denim is the street favorite because it’s everywhere. Probably the third shop you’re passing by now, sells denim. It’s not that expensive and it’s easy to get. 

Do you have a favorite denim piece?
Seven years ago, during a cold winter day in Berlin, after watching once again the classic hip hop flick Wild Style, I was so hyped that I bought a denim jacket in a thrift store for 10 Euros. I started painting on it and it took me three days to finish the first drawing on the back… I put an incredible effort in this painting. I love this jacket because of the good memory and the inspiration brought by a movie. When you create something, you find some joy in yourself: that joy sometimes comes back when I’m wearing that jacket, even if most of the time the piece is just hanging in my studio.


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