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.
Meet London-based artist Alexander James, who’s strong influence of Native American culture is reflected through his customised Vintage Dr. Martens x Alpha Jacket. Read on to find out more…
I’m Alexander James and I am a London-based artist. I paint my interpretation of the world both abstractly and figuratively. Painting is the forefront of all my works incorporating digital print, photography and a host of other materials. I have found that painting is the link to all mediums – it’s expressive and is always evolving.
Who or what do you take inspiration from?
My inspiration has mainly come from cinematography, western films to be specific. The Native American culture also heavily inspires me, identity is at the forefront of their culture and there is an on going struggle to define it. This led me to delve into my own identity and appreciate the impact clothing has had on my life. I’m always experimenting with colour using different mediums. My interest is combining elements together such as paint with film. I enjoy being playful with videos – pausing, playing and re-playing scenes, creating a dysfunctional image comprised of colours. I see an empty canvas as a jolted screen or a paused video. I have a collection of 15 videos from my current practice which use existing footage from Western films, coated with filmed footage of myself painting and observing work.
Do you have an illustration or project you’re most proud of?
My focus has gone towards my current practice, ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ (TCDR), still a work in progress. This project consists of a collection of overlaying existing and personal footage, experimenting with colour, painting on worn clothing and canvases, and using my paint-stained cloths as finished works. TCDR is a title to a personal story. Each title is like a chapter in a book. When I paint, I find relationships between elements in the same way storyboards for films are created. I have two exhibitions approaching, one in London and the other in Berlin. I will be showing some collage work linked with a film installation I’m currently making.
Talk us through your customised Dr. Martens, was it a challenge working on a jacket?
I chose the Alpha x Dr. Martens bomber to customise. I love the idea of being part of a group represented by their own unique colour and patterns. Each Native American tribe had a distinctive look to intentionally stand out. Through this, I have created my own uniform and signature by combining colours for people to wear in a variety of colours and patterns, superimposed onto items of clothing, designed to capture their identity.
Do you listen to music whilst you work?
Each day I try and listen to a different genre of music to inspire me when painting. HOMESHAKE have been on repeat at the moment, I can’t get enough.
If you could have any super-power, what would it be?
Definitely Teleportation, I want to experience the interesting time frames I missed.
If you could draw anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Pat Morita, (Mr. Miyagi) I loved that guy growing up watching all the Karate Kids.
Tell us your favourite thing about the city you live in:
London is simply the best city in the world. It’s hard to sum up one thing. It’s definitely the centre for creativity right now. I would recommend checking out London’s galleries. White Cube is my favourite space followed by the Gagosian Gallery and Saatchi Gallery. I’m usually venturing between those spaces.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens:
My first pair of Doc’s were the Chelsea boots, I think I was about 16 years old. The quality of the shoe is something that always got me buying more pairs. Also they last forever. Dr. Martens has always been important to me, mainly due to what they’ve stood for – self-expression. This is something you have always pushed throughout history not just in fashion, and that is something I strongly believe in.
And finally, what do you stand for?
Stay focused on your vision, if you believe you’re onto something then keep pushing it and put everything into it. Ignore all the outside noise, when people see you making progression they will try and pinpoint all your faults and never your success.