Artist Jesse Greene gives us his take on contemporary fashion with his creative vision Re:purposed. Most people know him as a photographer but looking at this project it seems like he’s moving in a different direction. Using repurposed goods Greene has figured out a way to create a new canvas for himself with wearable materials. Visually he takes elements from his abstract paintings and murals which create a vivid, poppy, contemporary color pallet that complements the wearers form and natural motion. Lets get into Jesse Greene’s head and understand what it is that goes into Re:purposed.
Let’s start from the beginning, tell us a little about your artistic background. When did you first start painting?
That’s like a 25 year story but to keep it brief I’ve been artistic since I was a child. I started taking it seriously at around 11 or 12 and have been painting at a professional level since 2004. I have been working with photography since 1998. I was born int he summer of 83′ and raised in Hyde Park a neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois and went to college at SAIC. I moved to Texas around 2009 and have been traveling abroad showing paintings ever since.
When did you first realize you were interested in the fashion industry as a whole?
I was always into fashion as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s and then into high school I just didn’t really understand it overall, I just knew I liked what I liked. A lot of it was mostly street wear stuff like Ecko, Phat Farm, and Enyce, but by the time I was 25 I had managed some well known Chicago boutiques and worked at more high end clothing retailers in Texas like Barneys, Metropark and places like that. I also lived in Paris for a good amount of time where I learned more about fashion houses, and fashion week which skyrocketed my creativity. Vice magazine really got me interested, and a lot of the look books I would receive at work really inspired me to get more into DIY fashion and photography.
What other artists do you draw a lot of your inspiration from? What about designers?
I get a lot of inspiration from graffiti artists, along with photographers. Most of the artists I drew inspiration from were Jordan Nickel, EWOK 5MH, OBEY, Banksy, Basquiat, Murakami and The El Barto, mostly artists that use a lot of vivid colors and iconography but I’m constantly inspired by artists on a daily basis, there are just too many to name. In terms of high end designers Ive always loved Dior, but over the past maybe ten years Ive been really inspired by Alexander Wang, BAPE, YSL, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Versace, Off-white, The Blondes New York and Patricia Field but I don’t feel like I take anything from them conceptually aside from possibly presentation. I also really enjoy when artists and fashion labels collaborate like Levis and KRINK, or some of the KAWS collaborations. I feel like the street wear look has successfully blended itself into high fashion so were going to see a lot more graffiti influence and more distressed hand made garments in the near future.
If Re:purposed had a particular vibe what would it be?
I would call it grunge-hop meets high-end street wear. I don’t even know what grunge-hop really is but I imagine a kind of punky, swagged out, street wear brand. Nothing specific to any demographic but definitely for the more fashion forward.
Do you usually have a clear vision of what a piece is going to look like when finished or do you just start painting and see where it goes?
Its kind of both. For some garments I might already have an idea in my head I’m just looking for the right color or fit, other times I look at it as a challenge to do something creative with. I feel like that approach shows an artists abilities to adapt to trends and styles a little bit more than just doing graphic tees or hats or something like that.
What’s your favorite fabric to work with when painting clothes?
Right now I’m doing a lot with denim. I like denim because its durable and you can damage it and not worry about it fraying as much or absorbing too much paint. I’d really like to work with silk and leather soon, I know that’s going to be a bit harder to find.
Walk us through your creative process- in terms of color, application, etc.
I basically approach it the same way I would approach a canvas. I study the amount of space I have to work with for a few days, then I start thinking about colors and designs that flow with the cut of the garment. The creative process requires a few preliminary adjustments but after that the application of paint and any other hardware becomes a lot easier. The patterns and colors are somewhat coordinated but are also a stream of consciousness in some ways. For me aesthetically its really all about logical placement and color balance.
What’s your favorite piece that you’ve done so far?
There are two blazers honestly that are really sick but by the time the runway arrives I might have made something totally new that I love… There’s also a starter jacket on deck, so I really cant say at the moment. I will say that I enjoy making everything.
What can we expect from the mind of Jesse Greene in the near future?
This weekend 5/4/19 I’m having a runway casting for a show I’m curating this summer that is also a clothing commission/donation event that’s taking place at STRUT studios. I encourage anyone interested in commissioning me to do a garment to attend. You can get all the info here. Also check out the latest looks shot by me here on my website. I’m also on instagram. And don’t forget to check out the awesome accessories by hand bag designer Milanblocks here.