In DIY DOC’S, we take a look at how illustrators, artists and designers put their stamp on Dr. Martens shoes. Painting, tattooing or de-constructing – we’re giving them the creative freedom to express themselves off of the canvas.
My name is Adam Villacin. I’m an artist, Los Angeles native, and student of cultural signifiers. I’m primarily an illustrator, and have self-published small art books that are studies of aspects of subcultures.
When and how did you start drawing?
My mother and grandmother instilled illustration as a method of expression in me at a very early age. Reading comic books and making zines carried that interest into adulthood.
How do you decide who to draw in portraits?
I like to draw people that are outliers, and representative of movements – people who are symbols for ideas that are bigger rather than just being a single individual. I like to find moments that are emblematic of recent history, and those are often related to politics, sports, or popular music.
You started out publishing your work in zines. Do you feel that was a useful way to share your work, more so than a gallery or show?
Useful is a good word. What I find interesting about zines as a method of communication is that they are accessible and proletarian. I think of my work as information, and the goal is to spread that information. The books I make are affordable, collectable, and shareable. I have no issue with showing in galleries, and I do fairly often. I just also like making, publishing and selling zines 100% on my own terms.
Do you work exclusively with ball point pens? What do you like about this medium?
I work exclusively with Sakura Pigma Graphic 1’s. It is by far the raddest archival pen on the market and I go through hundreds of them per year. They didn’t dry fast enough on the boots, though, so I did them with an Ultra Fine Sharpie.
Talk us through your customized Dr. Martens. Why and/or how did you settle on this design?
This time, I wanted to touch on fetish lifestyle, specifically the idea of crushing. There are excellent fruit crushing videos on YouTube that are completely G rated and utterly captivating, and those were my inspiration for these boots.
Was it a challenge working on the boots?
It actually was! I’m so used to drawing on a two dimensional surface, so the curves would throw me off a bit. I guess that’s why I was so bad at tattooing.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens:
I got my first pair in junior high. Black 1460s, bar laced. I had a friend whose older brother introduced us to the 3rd wave ska bands that were big at the time: The Pietasters, Skankin Pickle, Hepcat, Let’s Go Bowling, Mealticket. Those bands led me to record shops, where I discovered Two Tone bands, and the fashion that went with it.
You’re an LA native, what keeps you in LA? What’s your favorite thing about living in LA?
That’s kind of a tough question. I think LA is cool because it doesn’t look like the rest of the country. I guess what I like most about it is the true diversity, and the experience of so many cultures. Los Angeles is so big and broad and all encompassing, it can be whatever you need it to be.
What are you excited by in the LA art scene today?
I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many artists who I admire and respect. I’m blessed to be able to make beautiful things with them. I host a quasi-monthly drawing party with my friends and frequent collaborators Daniel Rehnberg and Sterling Bartlett. We get a couple dozen rad, LA artists together and draw to a theme, and make a zine with all the works made at the end of the night. The zine is limited to only those artists present, so I leave with some of my favorite books and experiences.
Stop by Dr. Martens Studio City in Los Angeles on April 29th where Adam will be on hand customizing boots and shoes.