Brooklyn Whelan is a Sydney based contemporary artist. Brooklyn’s art is a defined juxtaposition, a balance of beauty and power that takes many forms. There is an element of fantasy that’s often grounded by bold strokes.
A product of pop culture, his background of graffiti, skate boarding and snow boarding is reflective in his high contrast work as a well respected and highly published fine artist. A true counter culture artist of our time, his influence on the DENIM CoLAB program sees a smart gentleman’s style influenced by urban hip hop culture with quality customisation and points of difference unique to Brooklyn. Fresh off the back of his Melbourne Art Series opening at Chin Chin, we caught up with Brooklyn to chat art and denim.
DCL: What drives you as an artist?
BW: Its something I don’t think I really had a choice in - I’ve made drawings and painted since i was a young kid and I’ve always had that drive to make. Now I’m just lucky that people want it and its opened up the doors to travel and make a living from.
DCL: You’ve had a diverse career across many disciplines. What’s driven you to focus your career as a fine artist?
BW: My working background was as an Art Director. I felt that I needed to get back to a more hands on analog type of approach... I guess i just got lucky, I found something original in my works and went from there.
DCL: You come from a counter culture background- skating, snowboarding, graffiti etc. How do you think this lifestyle has shaped your career?
BW: It keeps you thinking outside of the box I guess.. It was definitely a rebellious type of lifestyle growing up in the 80’s as these sub cultures were developing - and being a big part of them were exciting times... Its that certain way of thinking that I’ve stuck with as I grow and develop myself as an adult and as an artist.
DCL: How does music fit into this mix for you?
BW: Massively. Like anything, its a feeling that can definitely influence an outcome.
DCL: Do you find what inspires your art influences other aspects of you life?
BW: Its something I don’t really think about. I just keep on moving through it… Haha, maybe like a weather pattern.
DCL: Has your art influenced your denim design, if so, how?
BW: More so the way I practice my art. The denim and the build definitely had to be quality. I tend to destroy my jeans pretty easily, especially painting in them all the time. So we needed to come up with something that not only looked good, but wore really well and were super comfortable to work in.
DCL: We’ve all got denim in our wardrobe… when you were working on the early design stages, what did you look for in choosing your denim?
BW: I’ve got a favourite pair from a trip to Japan a while way back.. You know that Japanese raw denim type vibe. So that’s what I went for.
DCL: How is your jean design unique to you? What particular features make your design a part your lifestyle?
BW: Definitely the fit and style. Also the stitch on the back pockets. A lot of denim labels have their own unique stitch, so of course I wanted mine to kinda rep what I do in paint. I came up with a cloud shaped stitch that I think works really well. Also the inside pocket detail and the back inner pocket for my brushes etc. - I’m always using my back pockets as brush holders when I’m painting.
DCL: The stitching is bold, we like it!
BW: That was also something I wanted to do. I’m a huge fan of contrast, especially in my work.
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