Ahead of the upcoming release of the Jordan X Levi’s® collaboration, Jordan Brand approached Artist and Designer, Julian Gaines to transform the Air Jordan 4 and a reversible denim jacket in the pack.
Gaines explains painting on denim vs painting on canvas:
It’s very different. I’ve been painting on denim for almost 10 years now and denim is more challenging. From high school throughout college, I continued to explore painting, printing and distressing techniques on denim clothing, turning them into functional fine art pieces.
Painting is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in drawing and painting and clothing allows one to have functionality with the art. You can’t take your favourite painting, which might be on a wall, and put that on your body, and go to the club. You can’t take a Rembrandt and lay it on yourself. That’s why I gravitate to clothing a lot, even though my heart is in painting canvases.
The denim on the 4s and this jacket is really receptive to the ink, and it only gets better after a few wears. This denim was a great canvas; its durability allowed me to heavily distress the 4s, aging them about 30 years!
Without going any further let’s check out the creative process and approach to the project:
Step 1: I always put the piece on because you see the product differently when you have it on. I know how I would want it to be seen. If I’m walking away, what are people gonna see? I’ll flip the collar, I pay attention to the creases and the cuffs. I’m very detailed about certain things that separate something being standard issue and something being handmade.
Step 2: Lay the product out. I took bleach and put it in a spray bottle. The idea behind the spraying, is that I wanted it to look like somebody just threw paint on there. So we have drips going down the sleeve of the jacket as if somebody just dripped over my shoulders. The spray bottle helps a lot.
Step 3: Customizing with the kitchen knife, trying to recreate the plastic mesh that’s on the AJ 4 by distressing the sides.
Step 4: Sandpaper. Even around the air bubble, I want it to look like somebody had already worn these. So there’s a lot of sanding down.
Step 5: My homie Wiz and I stonewashed the 4s and rinsed them off.
Step 6: Wearing the shoes in, walking around in them. There’s going to be certain creases that are only going to be developed by just wearing the shoe or going out.
Step 7: Before continuing to customize I went through some 50 to 100 reference pictures of old Levi’s® denim to see how it looks when people wear it like a lot. It’s easier when you can draw inspiration from certain spots and I knew where I wanted to go with this.
Step 8: We have to drop some paint.
Step 9: You have to let your projects dry. There are times when you just have to be patient. If you rush any part of the process, you might ruin a certain splatter detail, etc. It’s an abstract painting on shoes. This is really a storytelling shoe for me simply because it’s a Jordan 4; the all over denim allows me to visually tell my own story.
Step 10: Can I use the sewing machine? I want to sew an old Levi’s® tag on the shoe I just know that would take the piece to a whole different level!
images via jordan