We’re hitting the road for an eight-stop customization tour across America, with a lineup of artists from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Their mission: to create one-of-a-kind boots and shoes for Dr. Martens customers.
Amberella is a Philadelphia-based mixed media and street artist, whose conceptual work comments on popular culture, body image, or social justice — often evoking emotions and feeling at first glance. In other words: a natural fit for the Philly stop on our customization tour. In mid-March, Amberella stopped by Dr. Martens Philly to create some eclectic and unique shoes and boots for our customers. Keep reading to learn more about the motivation behind Amberella’s work — and check out the custom pieces she created.
Which of your designs/phrases describe you best?
LOVE SICK because I’m interested in emotions and relationships and expressing them when it’s often taboo to be vulnerable. I endorse talking about them, owning them, and/or working through them. What’s a life without love? It has created the worst and best feelings I’ve ever had.
The other would be DREAM IT/ BELIEVE IT. Call me a cornball but I’m a dreamer. Believing that your dreams can come true is a must to making them a reality. Anyone that knows me, knows that whatever the dream is I’m going for it! It will happen!
What drew you to street art (as a medium)?
About 7 years ago I created a body of work commenting on catcalling. When deciding how to present the graphics I remembered learning about wheat paste in college. Conceptually, the idea of putting the work back in the streets where it originated made the most sense to me. The work was in your face and uncomfortable just like catcalling; it needed to be delivered in the same manner. I fell in love with the idea of being able to put my work out into the universe whenever I felt like it. I could get things out of my system when I wanted. Pasting became my greatest escape. Although viewed publicly, it’s a very private, personal time for me when I’m in the streets.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I’m attracted to boldness, text, wit, and anything to do with emotion. Some of my favorites are Baron Von Fancy, Steve Powers, Jenny Holzer, Shepard Fairey, Aubrie Costello, ishknits, the former Hanksy, Olivia Steele and Barbara Kruger.
What was the inspiration behind your customization?
I thought back to the 90s and channeled them HARD. My flash sheet is divided into two feelings from that teenaged era. My first is the ‘hippie’ standing up for peace and love, and being brave enough to do so. Absolutely applicable to the times we are in now. I also wanted to play with embellishments that I had back then so I found some vintage daisy trim, peace sign patches and ribbon. The other feeling you will find on my flash sheet is ‘teenage angsty punk rocker’. With designs like OVER IT, GO AWAY, and REALITY BITES, the art is bringing back all the feels – studs included.
What are you most looking forward to for the customization tour?
Creating all of the one-of-a-kind pieces and getting to know their owners!
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens.
Patent leather bubblegum pink. I wish I still had them!