custom painting on denim jackets

People have been painting on denim jackets since the earlier decades 70's,80's, 90's, all with their own aesthetic to fit the decade. Fast forward to the now 2020 and we're still at it!

I want to take a moment to share with you why I decided to start painting on denim jackets, my experience with designing my first series of original characters, and what art materials I use.

At the end of last year I began reflecting on my previous art endevours asking myself, what projects hadn't I made time for or simply forgotten. When considering the new year I always reflect on what I don't like doing anymore. For me this isn't the start of a "negative process" evaluating things in this way has just always been easier for me. In the past years my preferred surface for painting has been rough and cold press water color and custom made birch wood panels from my friends over at Moose Canvas.

Now, denim jackets! Previous to this year I had never "professionally" painted on denim or any sort of textile other than traditional canvas material. Looking back tho on my mischievous nature I have plenty of experience from grade school drawing on myself and childhood friends uniforms, backpacks, shoes, and skin with sharpie markers, glitter gel pens, and ball point Bic pens. Of course I got into trouble for doing so but whatever, like many things when scolded, it would enter one ear and out the other. After reminiscing on my past I figured it was time to revisit some nostalgic roots. But this time around with a more "refined touch". I made my first purchase of three denim jackets in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia. Two medium adult and one kids sized jacket. I bought the kids size jacket with the intention of painting the first one as a gift for my little sister. I obviously wasn't thinking clearly because my little 13 year old sister would of never fit in a kid size jacket! At the age of 13 she's already caught up to me in height and shoe size. That kids sized jacket didn't go to waste. I ended up painting the Grape Sugar Skull Ice cream cone on the jacket as a birthday gift for a good friend of ours.

I fell in love with the way that my first Sugar Skull Ice cream cone character came out that I just had to carry out the additional companion characters. The first edition of "single scoop" Sugar Skull Ice cream cones all started off as digital designs that I then transferred onto hand painted denim jackets in acrylic paint.

When I first started to sketch out these characters I assumed that I was creating something that was a less tedious and complex in composition in comparison to my other artwork that has lots of fine detail. I thought that I'd be knocking out these designs super quick, in 2 hours tops. But this pop-graphic style posed new challenges and questions to consider. For example:

  1. What's the story behind these characters?

  2. How can I continue to evolve this series?

  3. What color combinations can I come up with?

  4. How far did I want to take them in detailed line work?

  5. What are their personalities?

  6. How are they going to exist together?

  7. How can I continue to integrate minimal design aspects of my Mexican - American heritage?

The list goes on really to about 6-10 more questions. I suppose the design process really doesn't have to be made into this overly complicated thing. But this is where I always end taking myself into this head space which I value to be a crucial part for any real artists creative process. My Sugar Skull Ice cream cone series is a direct reflection of my admiration for all things Sanrio, Nintendo, and the Japanese kawaii aesthetic.

Phase one is always the most tedious with getting everything just right. The line work, color selection, stylizing the drips, creating personalities, positioning, and consideration of accent designs is the most time consuming. Phase two is much easier, executing it physically in an acrylic painting in this style is the pretty straight forward.

So I had to add on another element to my work, teaching art online. During the video editing and voice-over work I was so anxious to finish. When I finally completed my first course I was so proud of myself and motivated to create more. My first online art couse "How to custom paint your denim jacket" is now live for enrollment on Skillshare, Udemy, and TabletWise. I have also decided to make all my future art course available to my $10 tier Patrons on Patreon as a "reward". I show students the step-by-step processes I take, offer files of my design for you to reference, and include a pdf of art supplies with prices on materials. Skillshare is currently offering the first two months of premium membership for free.

I've decided from here on out to create as many online art classes as possible. I want to share and help you develop your skills and techniques as well as motivate you to either start or continue your own artistic journey. Watching my first class back now it's already a lil' cringing just one month later, haha. But we all have to start somewhere and I promise to keep getting better! My plan is to start from the beginning with teaching the fundamentals of art and materials with a few creative exercise based projects along the way. If you have any specific art related courses you'd like me to teach please don't be shy to reach out to me or write it in the comments down below. I'm currently finishing up on editing my second class, "Creating a watercolor color chart". If you're interested you can follow my Skillshare profile so that you're notified in the future when I publish my next classes. Until then, if you find that I'm absent from social media it's because 1. I don't live there and 2. I'm focused on new projects I'm trying to hack out in a timely manner.

Thanks for checking out my poorly written blog, haha! I'm not a professional writer nor am I trying to be. I've started a blog to hopefully become more genuinely connected with fans of my art. Overall, I'm a pretty private person... But! I've found myself wanting to share a lil' more of an inside look on my process as well as some art info along the way for those whom may find it helpful.



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Weslaco, Texas, USA - Canggu, Bali, Indonesia, SE Asia