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Art

DR. MARTENS SPEAKS TO TOM J. NEWELL

Dr. Martens has teamed up with Sheffield born artist and illustrator Tom J. Newell, for a customisation event in our Sheffield store, Saturday 8th October. We’ve caught up with Tom J. Newell ahead of the event to talk about his customised #DMsLITE Newton boots, where he gets his inspiration, and what he stands for. 
 

Tom J. Newell and his artwork.
Tom J. Newell and his artwork.
 
 
Introduce yourself:
Hello, Dr. Martens. My name is Tom J Newell. I adopted the use of my middle initial in a domain name-related panic some years ago and it stuck. I am an artist, illustrator, record collector and turntable tinkerer. I draw pictures of things for people to look at, and play records for people to listen to. 
 
Who or what do you take inspiration from?
I’m inspired by my parents, my wife, my family and my pals… 
Also by the black and white drawings by Simon Bisley and Charles Burns, and the multi-coloured music of Don Van Vliet and Madlib. 
 
Example of Tom J. Newell's artwork in Sheffield.
Example of Tom J. Newell’s artwork from the ‘Herd Of Sheffield’ project.
 
 Do you have an illustration or project you’re most proud of?
I’m usually the most attached to and proud of the drawing that I’ve most recently finished. But looking back over the last few months, it has been brilliant to work with one of my favourite musicians ‘The Gaslamp Killer’, and to have been involved in the ‘Herd of Sheffield’ project where I decorated a life-size, fibreglass elephant alongside a great line up of artists, in aid of Sheffield Children’s Hospital. 
 
Talk us through your customised Dr. Martens, was it a challenge working on a pair of boots?
I’ve painted on a few pairs now so it becomes less daunting to put pen to boot each time. The Posca pens I use are really easy to use on the leather; the hardest part was probably trying to reproduce the freestyle pattern I did on the first boot in reverse on the second boot, but I think the imperfect symmetry that this produces gives the design a bit more character.
I painted wings on this latest lightweight pair with a ‘light as a feather’ concept floating around my head. 
 
The customised #DMsLITE Newton boots, by Tom J. Newell.
The customised #DMsLITE Newton boots, by Tom J. Newell.
 
 
Name three tracks you can’t hear enough of:
I listen to records in the studio. Turning them over breaks up the process of sitting at the drawing board for long stretches, but I often end up listening to the looped crackle of the run-out groove for far too long with the looped thought of “One more line and I’ll turn it over.”
1. After hearing Erkin Koray in a bar last week when I was on holiday in Turkey, I bought a record of his when I got home and I’m listening to his track ‘Yagmur’ right now.
2. My wife and I recently got tickets to see Black Sabbath at one of their final ever shows in Birmingham next year. We often listen to ‘Planet Caravan’ on a Sunday morning.
3. The third track I can’t get enough of right now is Thundercat’s – ‘Them Changes’. This record always gets a great reaction when I play it out and it’s a lot of fun to drop the Isley Brothers ‘Footsteps..’ drums in to follow it up. 
 
Tell us your favourite thing about the city you live in:
I live in Sheffield. I’m from Chesterfield which is a nearby town, so my favourite thing (after living in London for a while) is being close to family and friends. Many of them are involved with or have their own creative businesses here, so it’s amazing to see and to be a part of a larger creative community which extends all over the city, county, country and beyond… No borders. 
 
I design stuff for Twisted Burger Company, Bear Tree Records and Steam Yard where you can pick up a burger, a record and a coffee from respectively. I also play records every Thursday night at Picture House Social, which is a good place to hang out. 
 
tom-j-newall
Tom J. Newell shall be customising boots in our Sheffield store, on Saturday 8th October.
 
 
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens:
I think I was about 12 years old when my mum bought me my first pair of DMs from the local army surplus shop. I wore them as part of my scout uniform, but later on I tippexed ‘Nirvana’ down the back of the right boot… my first taste of Dr. Martens customisation. “It’s not class or ideology, colour, creed or roots, the only thing that unites us is Dr. Martens boots.” -Alexei Sayle (Radical Posture) 
 
And finally, what do you stand for?
It’s Bill & Ted’s motto, but one I think you can’t go too far wrong with: “Be excellent to each other and… party on, dudes”. 
 
Find out more about Tom J. Newell on his website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter