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In DIY DOCS, we take a look at how illustrators, artists, and designers put their stamp on a Dr. Martens product. Painting, tattooing or de-constructing – we’re giving them the creative freedom to express themselves off of the canvas.

Australian illustrator and artist Brolga has made a big impact on the streets of New York. Literally. His surrealist wheat-paste characters, street art and large-scale murals grace multiple spots in Manhattan and Brooklyn — including an installation at the new World Trade Center. Now based in Melbourne, Brolga recently brought his bright pop-art style to a pair of white 1460s; keep reading to find out about his inspiration, his background and how New York influenced his work.

Introduce yourself. Tell us who you are, what you do, and where you’re from.

I’m Brolga, an Australian artist and illustrator.

How did you get started doing illustration?

I’ve been drawing all my life but I fully committed after landing in New York as a backpacker and trying out some casual illustration classes. It was instant love!

My first gig was doing window doodles for a shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My first mural was of Muhammad Ali in the same neighborhood.

How did you choose the moniker “Brolga”?

Brolga is a nickname of mine. It’s a stalk-like water bird in Australia. I scored the nickname because I was a skinny, long-legged kid.

What drew you to murals and wheatpasting as a medium?

Brooklyn has heaps of amazing work up around the streets. I wanted to create weird things and slap them on walls too, so I started making large characters and putting them up as wheatpastes.

I finally worked my way up to painting murals, they stay up for years and can have a bigger impact.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the design you created for DIY DOCS.

These Docs were super fun to make! I improvised with creepy characters that were either straight from my notebook, stickers that I’ve put up on the street or from my recent murals.

How does the art scene and community in NYC compare to Melbourne?

The New York art scene was really warm and diverse. I’ve only recently moved to Melbourne, so I can’t say too much yet.

What do you love most about New York City?

I owe a lot to New York. It allowed me to live off my creativity from quite early on and I’m forever grateful. I’m not sure if I could have gotten that anywhere else.

Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens.

I got my first pair recently, actually! They’re Vegans. I wore them to my mate’s wedding and they got me through a night of dancing on a jetty.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I love to travel, so I try to get away as much as possible. I was in Thailand recently for Songkran, the Thai New Year. The whole country stops for a few days to have a massive water fight. How good is that?

Check out Brolga’s art on Instagram.

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