Bag art has been a growing trend for years now, one that I really disliked at first. The first custom painted bag I ever saw was the very poorly customized Nene Leakes Birkin, which captivates by having its graphics fight over which element of them is the worst, the content or the execution.
As the trend has grown, I've realized that I love it- under specific circumstances. Art ("art") on a piece that has been designed for shock value or to amplify the wealth obsession that the culture of luxury fashion covers, is not, and will never be, for me. Art to personalize, sentimentalize, elevate, or salvage a bag has very much grown on me.
Art was my passion in high school. Almost all my lasting friends, good memories, and useful skills came from taking every art class I could. I still love the arts from the perspective of an enthusiast and patron, but I haven't (hadn't) made anything in a very long time, and I missed it.
My technical skills as an artist are the main skills I use in restoration, so the motions were well practiced, but creating something was an old, dusty, forgotten idea. In late March, trying to break out of the depressed yet overwhelmed (and of course, anxious!) rut I fell into quickly with the start of the pandemic, the one thing I tried that really got me back into focus was deciding to revisit creating art.
I'd had this cotton canvas Ferragamo tote for months, and the stains on the front were permanent, I'd tried everything. I convinced myself to paint it. I hadn't painted in years, and for some reason chose not to brush up on my skills before setting brush to bag. Definitely a practice bag, I chose to connect with Ferragamo's Florentine roots and (with no single reference image or practice) cover the front of the bag with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
I'm a perfectionist to a fault, and being out of practice and using new mediums under very unusal circumstances is a combination that warranted way more careful planning than I used. I was fairly happy with how it turned out, but I was happiest about how this impromtu experiment gave me a chance to learn as I worked, motivating me to expand on the idea and perfect it.
This Louis Vuitton Speedy 40 was painted by me for a very special client. She expressed interest in having it painted, and asked me if I would be open to it after I shared a photo of the first bag I'd painted with her. I'd been asked before, and referred clients to other artists, not yet confident in offering to do it myself.
The concept is sentimental, "My first memories in my grandma's backyard was her cutting lilacs off her tree." Kelly also expressed intrest in impressionism, greenery, personalization and the idea of a cascading pattern. After three mock ups, I took the bag and got to work. I returned the bag this week, and seeing her joy solidified my decision to start offering painting as an extension of the Chicologie services.
A full, detailed outline of the service will be available in part 2, next Friday. For questions, inquiries, or to commission work in the meantime, contact me.