- Kessler Ramirez started shopping for thrifted jeans to resell as a way of making money while she searched for a full-time job.
- She leaned into her passion for art history by hand-painting jeans' back pockets with designs inspired by artists like Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Sandro Botticelli.
- Some of the designs can take Ramirez 30 hours to complete.
- Since 2017, she's been selling her painted jeans and denim jackets through her business, Kessler Ramirez Art.
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Kessler Ramirez told Insider that she's been painting and drawing since she could hold a brush.
Ramirez said her mom used to teach art classes out of her garage when she was in elementary school, so she would always sit through those.
"I have been painting and drawing since I could hold a paintbrush. My mom always instilled creativity in me," Ramirez said.
After graduating college, Ramirez started buying thrifted jeans and reselling them on an app as a way to make money while she was searching for a full-time job. She also wanted her side-hustle to involve sustainability and loved the idea of giving an old pair of jeans a new life.
"I love jeans so much, but they take an enormous amount of water to produce," she said. "I found that thrifting them, you can not only find some really cool unique pairs, but it's also kind of closing that loop in production."
Ramirez's thrifting side-hustle soon turned into a creative endeavor.
In the midst of thrifting and reselling jeans, Ramirez was inspired by artists who had doodled or drawn on denim.
The inspiration led her to use her penchants for art history and painting to try her hand at re-creating famous masterpieces on the back pockets of her thrifted jeans.
At the end of 2017, Ramirez turned her idea into a business. She sells her unique clothing items on her website, Kessler Ramirez Art, as well as shares tutorials on her intricate denim paintings.
Ramirez draws inspiration from famous works of art.
When Ramirez is choosing how to decorate her jeans, she gets inspiration from paintings that are available in the public domain — so she avoids infringing on any trademarks — and that she thinks will fit well on the pocket design.
"There are so many beautiful works of art out there, but not all of them fit on the jeans," she said.
Ramirez said it can take her up to 30 hours to complete a pocket painting, depending on how complicated the design is.
When Ramirez is starting on a jean pocket, she starts by printing the painting to the size of the pocket.
Then, she tapes the pocket and paints it white to create a blank canvas.
After that, she'll sketch out the painting with a pen — and finally, she meticulously fills it in with paint.
Ramirez's favorite works of art come from Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet because she sees their subjects as timeless.
"Their colors just work so well on denim, and their work translates so well to modern times," she said, referring to the painting styles of Monet and Van Gogh.
Ramirez said that paying homage to famous painters is her way of educating her social-media followers and fans on art history.
"I want them to know the history of the work they are putting on, its legacy, and how unique and special it is," Ramirez said.
In addition to revamping classic jeans, Ramirez also adorns denim jackets with her detailed paintings.
Ramirez used to hand-paint custom designs on denim jackets, but now, she chooses masterpieces that speak to her — such as the design above, inspired by Hokusai's woodblock print, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa."
She loves the challenge of bringing iconic works of art to a smaller, wearable canvas.
One of Ramirez's most intricate designs is a re-creation of Sandro Botticelli's circa-1480s painting "The Birth of Venus," pictured above.
Ramirez said the pocket is one of her favorites because of the 30 hours of work she's poured into it.
Since she's started selling her painted jeans, Ramirez said she's been blown away by the response.
Since Ramirez started her business, she was featured in Vogue Spain, which made her realize that her creative work was getting noticed.
Ramirez's one-of-a-kind jeans are available to purchase a few times a year.
Ramirez releases collections of her hand-painted clothes a few times a year on her website. Each release includes between five and seven items, and her next launch is August 30.
Find more of Ramirez's work on Instagram.
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