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.
Meet our next DIY Docs artist, American artist Derek Erdman, who has customised our White 1460 Mono boots. Find out more about his work and what he stands for below:
My name is Derek Erdman, I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, spent a long time in Chicago, and for the past five years I lived in Seattle. Aside from painting and drawing, I do miscellaneous office things at Sub Pop Records. I also love sleeping and eating.
When and how did you start drawing, painting, etc.?
I was never talented in drawing or painting as a kid. While in Chicago in the early 2000s I developed a fascination with clip art and the idea of creating it, my style was born from that.
Who and/or what inspires you?
Mundane everyday images, candy packaging, vintage corporate logos and advertising. I love a lot of color and things that are joyous. Artists that are inspiring: Jason Polan, Ray Johnson, Raymond Pettibon, Barney Bubbles, Tom Tierney. Pranks and gags, misinformation, those sorts of things.
Do you have a project/piece you’re most proud of?
I think to choose one thing would make that project a high-water mark, and everything being downhill after that. Because of the fragility of “the artist type,” that’s something I try to avoid.
Talk us through your customized Dr. Martens. How did you come up with your design?
It took a while to decide what I wanted for a design. I considered something relevant to the current political climate, but I decided for something different. I’m not saying these drawings are a way to forget about politics, or a conscious diversion of, “f**k politics, let’s talk about tennis!” but I wanted something closer to a group of things that make me (and maybe others) happy. Though I guess you can’t put things like “dust” or “cleaning” in that category. But actually, I really like cleaning. These kind of remind me of drawing on shoes in high school study hall, which I loved to do. But those drawings were usually bands and anarchy symbols, not, uh, Triscuits. So these aren’t images of things that I particularly love, just things that exist.
Was it a challenge working on shoes/ boots?
In a way, yeah. I considered painting on them, but the size and shape was difficult, and my tests with latex and acrylics peeled off of the leather. Once I found a pen that wouldn’t smudge (Sharpie Ultra Fine), I had to make the decision of clustering the drawings sparsely or really close together. I think the choice of making the boots busy in design was the right way to go. I’d wear these boots, probably. Coming up with the things to draw was the best part. Thinking about things that I encounter that make my life better, or remind me that I exist. I love dim lighting, my girlfriend hates it. She always uses high wattage light bulbs, we change them constantly when the other isn’t around. That’s going to go on forever. The biggest caveat was that halfway through I realized that these doodles look exactly like Jason Polan’s drawings. So, in a way they’re a subconscious homage to him. I wrote to him to let him know, I think we’re still friends. At least I hope!
If you could have any super-power for a day, what would it be?
To make people pause so I can go through their homes to see how they live. That’s such a hard thing to describe without sounding like a total creep, but just hanging out in a stranger’s living room or raiding their fridge; that sounds kinda fun.
If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be? And why?
Oh, that sounds like going to a lot of trouble, y’know? But it would probably be cool to hang out with Bela Bartok for a couple of hours. I’m not really great at collaborating, I’m too much of a brat.
Tell us your favourite thing about living in Seattle.
So many pho restaurants! And also good sushi. And Sub Pop, plus the friends I’ve made here. It’s a fine place to live.
How/Why did you start offering Seattle residents free drawings of Carol Channing?
That’s a thing I decided to do when I first moved here, sort of as a gesture of good will. Carol Channing was born in Seattle, and she had pretty great style. She also took fastastic photos, which made for good drawings.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens:
I’ve always been fond of Mary Janes, so I bought a pair of red ones when I was a teenager. I still have them, and they’re in great condition! I picked them up at a place called The Alley in Chicago.
Head to our Seattle store on Friday 3rd February to get your Doc’s customised by Derek Erdman.