A jacket for Memphis

When the media heaped attention on Memphis Depay’s jacket - with his girlfriend on the back - around Valentine’s Day, Ardy Samandarpour could jump for joy. The RUG student, artist and creator of the jacket couldn’t escape the spotlight, either.

At first sight, Ardy Samandarpour seems to be a glamourous type: sunglasses on, a neat beard and sporting his own painted clothing. However, as soon as the third year pharmacy student begins to talk, he is nothing but modest.

Thanks to the work he did for Manchester United player Memphis Depay, he is suddenly in the spotlight as an artist. RTL Boulevard paid him a visit, Instagram followers are growing and there is even a new order from an international celebrity. ‘In three weeks, you’ll see who…’, he says, with an air of secrecy.

Finger paint project

His painting skills were, in his own words, discovered in group one. ‘We had a finger paint project and I got positive responses to that. The teacher even called my mother to tell her that she had to come and see my work. At that age, you are sensitive to that kind of external motivation. That is when I started to draw more.’

He typically relied on traditional media: paper and canvas with oil paints. Samandarpour, known as an artist under the name of ‘ArdyArt’, taught himself the finer points and intricacies: ‘I’ve wondered once or twice about whether I should take lessons, but it was actually through the lack of lessons that I developed my own style. That could have been drummed out of me.’

Since last year he has been busy doing make overs on clothing items. Up until that moment, he had not been painting a whole lot. ‘I drew on writing blocks, but in my room, that could not be done. I would have to turn everything upside down so that I could set up a canvas. I began painting t-shirts and shoes for myself and wearing them. Then, friends wanted them, too. It rolled on from there via social media.’


Last year, Samandarpour received a message from rapper Bollebof. He asked whether Samandarpour could paint a jacket with his girlfriend on the back for the ‘Kwasten’ video clip. In the end, the 22-year-old also did some body painting, which can be seen in the ‘making of’. Depay, a good friend of the rapper, wanted something similar for his girlfriend, and Bollebof thus submitted a request to the artist a month ago.

‘I said yes straight away’, Samandarpour laughs. ‘Then, I had to see how that would fit in with my study, which is pretty intense in terms of contact hours. It was hard work; I worked a lot on the jacket in the evening and at night. I am a very unstructured person myself, and that gets worse the busier you are. It is a bit of juggling. In the end, I delivered the jacket one day before the deadline.’

‘He could buy anything, but he chose my work’
Depay never spoke with him directly, but the compliments were passed on via Bollebof. ‘Of course I felt it was a big compliment: he could buy anything, but he chose my work. It is a sign that my work is appreciated. It was certainly difficult; it had to be kept a secret. I was happy and excited that I was allowed to do it, but I could not tell my friends who I was working for. The thought had already crossed my mind then that this could turn into something big.’

Art is a hobby

That is exactly what happened: newspapers and TV stations both in and outside of the Netherlands were talking about Memphis’ jacket. The Instagram post from the footballer got around 70,000 likes. ‘I got friend requests, messages from old classmates and I was mentioned a lot in the media. My mother made me save all the articles and photographs.’

The attention surrounding his work means, aside from the order from the mysterious celebrity, an influx of new work. ‘Much more to plan, many more choices!’ exclaims Samandarpour. He does not, however, see himself as an entrepreneur. ‘I have always said: art is a hobby. As a job, it is too uncertain. You remain dependent on the perception of the public. If they do not like your work anymore, you cannot force them to like it again all of a sudden.’

‘If I had to choose, I would not stop studying pharmacy’, he says decisively. ‘But that is easy to say, since I am not currently facing that choice.’ Couldn’t he make those boring lab coats nicer? Samandarpour laughs: ‘I don’t think that is allowed in connection with safety, unfortunately. But on my coat, I have drawn on pens with faces and there are also holes in it from fire, which is also a kind of art!’