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We’re hitting the road for an 8-stop customization tour across America, with a lineup of eight artists coming from a variety of backgrounds. Their mission: to create one-of-a-kind boots and shoes for Dr. Martens customers.

For the second stop of the Dr. Martens Customization Tour, we brought Anka Lavriv to Dr. Martens SoHo in NYC. A Ukranian visual artist and tattooer currently living and working in Brooklyn, Anka’s work is influenced by mysticism, occult, and ancient symbolism. Anka owns Black Iris Tattoo, where she is currently based. Keep reading to learn more about the artist and see how she customized Doc’s for our New York customers.

Tell us about some of your favorite tattoos.

I love anything related to occult and alchemical imagery, and narrative scenes preferably centered around a female protagonist. I also love tattooing cat portraits for people because it’s very sweet to hear the stories behind them and clients often get really emotional in a beautiful way. My favorite tattoos on myself are the ones done by my business partner John O’Hara, because he’s a genius.

Have you ever talked someone out of a tattoo?

Oh, yeah! Many times! When I started tattooing I had to do whatever came my way and sometimes the ideas were really out there. I’m very lucky to be in a position now where I get to chose projects I want to work on.

What was the inspiration behind your customization?

The main inspiration for my customization was Ukrainian protective patterns. I love wearing them drawn over clothes and tattooed on skin. Protective needlepoint is a big part of my culture and I am thrilled to use this idea reimagined in a modern way.

What are you most looking forward to for the customization tour?

I can’t wait to meet the other artists and see how they approach the challenge. I love to see artists execute the same concept in completely different ways.

Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens.

It’s actually really funny- growing up in post-soviet Ukraine, I dreamed of owning a pair of Dr. Martens, even had a catalog cut out in my journal as a teenager, but there was no way my family could afford it. I got my first pair as a hand me down from a female regular at a bar I used to work at – I was so happy!

What is your favorite thing to do in New York City?

Going to the Met! I’m absolutely obsessed with that place. You can go there a million times and still find new things that will blow your mind. I love New York with all my heart, it’s been 12 years and I feel just as in love as when I first got here.

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