Alex Steele Makes Vintage Denim Into Works of Art

by Kristen Philipkoski

When I visited West Coast Craft in November, I was on the hunt for anything and everything denim (as per usual). Have you been to West Coast Craft? It’s an amazing collection of artisans that happens twice yearly at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It’s extremely well-curated and you’ll find incredible handmade and beautifully-designed items to wear and for your home. (Check some of my other favorites at Forbes!)

When it came to denim, Alex Steele’s booth grabbed my attention like no  other. Not only did she have perfect vintage Levi’s, but they were decorated with her really cool art. She paints with bleach directly onto the denim. The palm-leaf print initially caught my eye, and her nudes (and more) on jackets won me over.

I quickly learned that Alex doest much more than paint on jeans—she has dabbled in everything from jewelry design to taxidermy. Check out our interview below!  

1. Where are you from and where do you live now?
“I am from Miami, FL and I currently live in Oakland, CA. I have been in the Bay Area since 2004.”

2. Can you briefly describe your art background and experience?
“I have a pretty extensive background in art, I went to multiple art schools from the 6th grade through college. Beyond college, I broadened my creative skills through visual merchandising, taxidermy, gallery installation, and museum diorama creation/installation. I definitely consider myself a multidisciplinary artist, and I am always curious to learn more and experiment with new mediums. I am currently involved with designing and creating my eponymous brand of clothing, jewelry and home goods.”

3. How did you become interested in putting your art on denim?
“Well, I love denim! It is a staple item in my wardrobe, so naturally I was drawn toward ways to enhance it and make it more unique. Denim is also a great material for bleach painting on, since it is tough and durable. Plus, denim does not adhere to seasonal exclusivity, and can be worn with anything.”

4. Do you use exclusively vintage denim? Do you have any favorite brands/styles?
“Yes, I particularly hunt for vintage denim. I have a discerning eye for a good denim wash, a nice shape in a jacket, and a high waist of a pair of jeans. My favorite brands are Levi’s, Riders, and Guess.”

5. What are your plans for 2017?
“I plan on growing my small business, and growing as an artist. I want to continue to explore using different mediums and methods in my work, and to expand my brand with more business-minded approaches.”

 

Alex Steele

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