In DIY Docs, 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.
I’m Elizabeth Ilsley, I’m an artist, designer and model. I studied at Birmingham City University doing Fine Art and have a studio in Digbeth where I work every day on my leather jackets and prints. My hobbies are drinking beer with my friends, dressing up and collecting great clothes.
Who or what do you take inspiration from?
I take most of my inspiration from music and my favourite bands, so right now I’m really influenced by Hole, Sonic Youth, Skinny Girl Diet and Babes In Toyland. Real punk bands with real girls. This has been my primary genre from a very young age and I’m trying to get back into that headspace. Everything from the sound, lyrics and aesthetic is inspiring my next collection.
Do you have an illustration or project you’re most proud of?
I’m probably most proud of the first ever jacket I painted which said ‘I Shave My Legs For You’. I really changed my life with just one jacket. It’s lovely and I haven’t been that funny since.
Talk us through your customised Dr. Martens, was it a challenge working on a pair of boots?
Well, I don’t want to sound big headed or obnoxious but this was the easiest thing for me. I have worn and loved my Doc’s since I was 14 and they make every outfit I wear more ‘me’. This is a dream brief for me and I saw exactly what they were going to look like before I had even mixed my paints. My inspiration for the boots was like most of my designs, very 80s metal inspired. Pink flames, big heavy soles, covered in my pink and red broken heart logo, and to keep it personal to me I painted my life motto onto the boots: ‘We’re all friends here.’ I will be wearing them all the time, a lot of my friends and followers are dying to have a pair, my DM inbox has been so crazy. I’d like to think that Courtney Love would wear them. Imagine that.
Name three tracks you can’t hear enough of:
Talking Heads – ‘This Must be The Place’
The Stooges – ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’
B52’s – ‘Rock Lobster’
If you could have any super-power, what would it be?
Teleportation. So I could just click my fingers and be anywhere in the world whenever I want.
If you could draw anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
What’s your favourite thing about the city you live in?
I do go on a lot about how much I adore Birmingham, I’m from Dudley so I’ve always had a rubbish accent and I’ve eaten orange chips a lot. But honestly Birmingham is great for music, its got a huge house music scene and the best independent venues hosting gigs like the Sunflower Lounge. The beer is pretty cheap still here and, oh my god, Birmingham has the best food. In my spare time you’ll find me at The Sunflower Lounge, Ikon Gallery, eating at Digbeth Dining Club or Original Patty Men or dancing at Night Owl.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens:
On my 15th birthday I received a pair of red patent Doc’s from my mum. I loved them and wore them everywhere. I’ve had 5 pairs of different designs since. I feel confident and like no one will mess with me in my Doc’s.
And finally, what do you stand for?
Like I said before my motto is ‘we’re all friends here’. Good job I put that on my boots.