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 freelance graphic designer and illustrator Mélanie Johnsson, who has customised our white 1461 Mono shoe. Read on to find out more about her customisation, relationship with Doc’s and focus on positive thinking…
I am Mélanie Johnsson, a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, from France, now living and working in London. I design for small and big businesses across different fields: fashion, travel, beauty, publishing… I love getting to work on so many different projects. I also run a small stationery shop next to my design and illustration projects.
Who or what do you take inspiration from?
I am really inspired by the work on my late Swedish grandfather. He could do everything and worked all the time. He was a graphic designer and photographer, but also found time to draw comics, build polystyrene planes, teach kids how to play chess and create huge family trees for the whole corsican village where he retired with my grandma. I think about him almost everyday. On another note, the garden view from my studio is really inspiring. I need sunlight to function properly, and I loved seeing foxes, cats and goldfinches out of the window. Nature is probably my biggest source of inspiration.
Do you have an illustration or project you’re most proud of?
My proudest project so far is the book I designed for Hachette, Doing it. I got to design and illustrate 300 pages and fill them with monochrome patterns and typographical games. I had total freedom to do what I thought would look best and I loved creating original paintings for it. I can’t say I have only one dream project. There are so many things I’d like to design. I would say that I’d love to work on something I’ve never done… maybe a project for the music industry, the food industry and also the beauty industry? Everything is exciting!
Talk us through your customised Dr. Martens, was it a challenge working on a pair of shoes?
I wanted my pair of Dr. Martens to be quirky, colourful and punchy! I hope that my work comes across as quite happy and I like to make people feel good about themselves. I think it’s important that we all support each other, especially in the creative industry. The shoes are saying ‘You (yes you) are very seriously amazing’. I loved the idea of having a lettering that would make the person wearing them smile. It was quite tricky drawing on the shoes, primarily because I always paint with ink and a brush, and I illustrated the shoes with two different pens. I had to adapt my style to the new medium, but I loved the challenge! I would definitely wear these, with an all black look, so the shoes really pop out.
Do you listen to music whilst you work? Name three tracks you can’t hear enough of:
I listen to a lot of podcasts, but I also love listening to music, especially when I paint.
1. Escape – Rupert Holmes – my guilty pleasure. I have this weird taste for slightly cheesy music from the 70s.
2. I want you back – Haim
3. Pretty Pimpin – Kurt Vile
If you could have any super-power, what would it be?
Breathing underwater – that would be the coolest superpower! Imagine roaming the oceans next to giant blue whales and never having to go to the surface.
If you could draw anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Napoleon. That would be fun.
Tell us your favourite thing about the city you live in:
I am from Paris, so London feels very creative and crazy compared to the City of Lights. I live and work in North East London and I love that you don’t know what to expect when you step outside. You could walk past a new little café that wasn’t there the day before, discover a new gallery and see people from all over the world. I love how many opportunities London can offer to anyone who is willing to get out of their comfort zone. I love to walk around in my spare time, and just discover things as I go. But my favourite walk is along the Regent’s canal.
I love hanging at the Good Egg (amazing food) and the Green Room in Stoke Newington. Clissold Park is also amazing in the summer.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens:
I did not buy my very first pair of Dr Martens. My mom did! She got me a pair of those little black with purple flowers boots when I was five and I wore them almost everyday. She also got me a little leather jacket. I think I was a pretty badass five year old.
And finally, what do you stand for?
Do what you love every single day and don’t take no for an answer. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, so you might as well have fun!