On Trend with Denim: Flagler Student Displays Paintings in a Different Way

Bella Adams wears one of her pieces featuring a whale she painted. Many of her painted denim pieces are inspired by her love for the ocean. Photo by Bella Adams

By Maiya Mahoney| gargoyle@flagler.edu

It all started out with a pair of jeans from Forever 21 that didn’t fit right. Always having a love for art, current Flagler student, Bella Adams, saw an opportunity to create a product others would enjoy.

“I posted a picture on Instagram of a pair of jeans I had painted and a bunch of people asked where to buy them or if I could make them for them,” Adams said.

“That’s when I decided to start doing this.” 

Growing up, Adams’ love for art was inspired by her father, who is an illustrator for children’s books. 

“My dad had an influence on me,” Adams said.

“I always wanted to be like my dad growing up and he would always teach me how to draw certain things.”

The process for painting Adams’ denim takes time with jackets taking around four to five hours and jeans taking two to three hours. Almost every day, Adams will set aside time to paint the denim.

“I use acrylic paint with fabric medium, which is a liquid mixed into acrylic paint to make the denim waterproof,” Adams said.

“I also do a white base to make colors pop more and I turn the jeans inside out and iron the inside of the pocket or the part of the pants I painted. Since acrylic is plastic based, it will melt so it is less likely to come out in the washer.” 

Most of Adams’ paintings are inspired by the ocean. Lots of her denim can be seen with different sea creatures or ocean waves. However, Adams’ paintings are not just limited to the ocean theme. She also does custom orders where people send in the denim they want painted and they get to choose the design. 

“I try to appeal to everyone and if someone asks if I can do something, I try to make it happen and do it in a way they would enjoy,” Adams said.

At Flagler, Adams is studying graphic design and in the future wants to pursue a career that ties to social media in some way.

“I want to do something in social media account management and do promotional things for companies,” Adams said.

“I always try to make things look nice and reach a large audience.” 

Social media is not a foreign concept to Adams. In addition to her growing business, Adams also has a Youtube channel. However, most of Adams’ success has been due to TikTok, which is a new video-sharing networking site. 

“I started a TikTok that shows the process of painting the denim and I found out that people find that more interesting,” Adams said.

“I made a custom order on TikTok that featured a sunflower for a friend that I went to high school with and it blew up.”

While Adams has been able to find success on Instagram and Youtube, her TikTok for her hand-painted denim has gained the most attention. Currently, Adams has more than 31,000 followers on TikTok and her video that blew up received more than 3 million views on the app.

To contact Adams about getting custom hand-painted denim, visit her Instagram @artistrybybellaco.  

“I get a lot of people asking for my hand-painted denim and so I stay motivated because people expect me to get it done quickly,” Adams said, “Also, I stay motivated because it’s something I like to do and it makes other people happy.”

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