Imitation is perhaps the sincerest form of flattery, but it can also be a high-spirited stampede.
Ariel Adkins creates clothing inspired by instantly recognizable works of art, whether it’s Yayoi Kusama’s giant yellow pumpkin, Claude Monet’s water lilies or Donald Sultan’s black poppies.
Adkins, who also works on Twitter, meticulously hand-paints the dresses, skirts and jumpsuits in her Brooklyn apartment.
“I’ve always loved clothes and I’ve always spent a lot of time putting my outfits together, so it was only natural to say, ‘Well, I love art and I love clothes, so why not combine the two? “said the 36-year-old, graduate of William & Mary with a BFA in art history and art.
She combined her two loves starting with an old white dress and an image from one of Jackson Pollock’s large-scale paintings.
“He put a canvas on the floor and splashed paint on it. I thought it was something I could do, so I gave it a try,” Adkins said. “The dress turned out great! After that the floodgates opened and I couldn’t stop.
It was in 2010, when she launched Artfully Awear, a line of sustainable clothing that offers unique pieces inspired by art. Since then, she has hand painted hundreds of garments, mostly for herself and her friends, and sometimes in collaboration with artists.
“I also do errands,” she says. “Usually the client chooses a work of art that is meaningful to them. Sometimes we talk about it together, about what would be inspiring for them, and sometimes they already have an idea of what they want.
Prices start at $500.
One of Adkins’ most beloved art-inspired creations is a skirt she created at the request of the Guggenheim Museum in 2019. The arts institution staged a museum-wide takeover with the works by Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, famous for her colorful abstract. paintings. Adkins spent weeks crafting the piece, an orange number with Klint-esque shapes, and paired it with a white turtleneck and boots for a photo shoot at the museum before the exhibit opened to the public.
“Hilma af Klint was linked to spirituality. I did a lot of research and found a skirt that she probably would have worn in her lifetime, and painted it based on one of her pieces that hung in the exhibit. Adkins said, “It was surreal to be surrounded by your art when no one else was around.”
She and the Guggenheim posted the photos from the shoot on their respective social media. He introduced many art enthusiasts to the work of Adkins, who now has over 26,000 followers on Instagram.
“I don’t know what my job would be like without social media. My online community is such a big part of what I do,” Adkins said. “It’s not just about posting a photo to get a lot of likes. It’s about sharing inspiration and hopefully inspiring others.