Such is the demand for works by Huddersfield-born artist Ian Berry, who uses fabric from denim jeans to create portraits, installations and urban landscapes, that almost all of the works in a new London exhibition were sold before the doors opened.

In fact, Ian says he often has to tell callers to his studio in Sweden, where he now lives and works, that he has nothing left to sell.

It’s a problem that many artists must wish they could share.

Ian, 29, has been a full-time artist for four years now, working under the title Denimu, and says he believes the appeal of his art is that most of us have owned a pair denim jeans.

He explained: “So many people come up to me and say they don’t like art but they like what I do. Jeans are for everybody and art should be the same.

“Everyone has their favourite pair. When I began using denim it was purely for the aesthetic value of all the different shades. But we all have an emotional attachment to denim jeans. They are the only things I feel comfortable in.”

A former student at the University of Huddersfield and a graduate of Buckinghamshire University, where he studied graphic design and advertising, Ian worked in advertising in London and Sydney, Australia.

Artist Ian Berry
Artist Ian Berry
 

But art had always been on the back-burner. He started using denim to create art after his mother asked him what he wanted to do with some old jeans that she’d been clearing out of his room.

He cuts, stitches and glues the fabric from charity shop jeans, giving the finished ‘canvasses’ a 3D feel.

 His finished works sell for thousands and this summer he was voted one of the 30 most influential artists under 30 by Art Business News magazine.

Redundancy from his job in Australia allowed Ian to focus on his art and today his work is sought after internationally.

He recently appeared on Belgian television and is being filmed by a German television station. He has been featured in magazines and publications around the world.

While he accepts that media attention is important to bring recognition for his work, Ian says the current degree of interest seems almost surreal. Demand for his art has kept him busy, working 16 hours a day.

“I find it quite distracting when you are in the studio working and I’m getting phone calls all the time,” he added.

Although it’s many years since Ian lived in Huddersfield, he has strong links with the area and remains a keen supporter of Huddersfield Town. His parents, Eddie and Christine, still live in Netherton.

His latest exhibition, only the second he has had in the UK, is at the Catto Gallery in London until December 11.

Ian Berry's work
Ian Berry's work