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In our conversation series ‘5 Minutes With…’, we chat style, culture, influences, and of course, Docs, with creatives who are shaking up the scene. From musicians and artists to tattooists and change-makers, we get to know the exciting individuals wearing Dr. Martens.
Here we chat to Leon Washere, the artist behind our ‘What Dr. Martens style are you?’ Instagram filter. Utilising Leon’s unique style of illustration to create 6 exclusive animations to hero six of our most-loved and iconic styles through frame-by-frame hand-painted animations.
The filter chooses a shoe or boot for the user and, once selected, cuts to one of six full screen, hand-painted animations featuring a figure wearing the style. The animated figure integrates the user’s face and is overlaid in real time.
You can try out the filter here, and don’t forget to share with us which pair of DM’s you got by tagging @drmartensofficial.
Read on to find out more about Leon’s work, his inspirations and his year so far.
Please introduce yourself…

My name is Leon Washere. I’m a freelance artist living and working from my home studio in New Jersey, USA.

Tell us a bit more about what it takes to create your work? From the starting point to the final piece, what’s the creative process like?

I typically have an idea of what clip I want to rotoscope, (Rotoscoping is an animation technique that animators use to trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action). When it comes to hand-coloring each frame it’s more fluid. I like to work through an entire set of frames with one-color then go from there. It gets a bit tedious as each animation takes about 8-10 hours for 3 seconds of animation. Once done coloring I scan into Photoshop and clean each frame up then it’s done. For the most part, what you see on paper is what you get in the final.


What influences your work? Do you find inspiration in any unexpected places?

I live out in the marshlands of Southern New Jersey on the water. The constant change of color and wildlife that come and go each season. I enjoy the subtle changes in things and how, for example, a single color or tone can change the entire feel of a piece.


Which Dr. Martens style are you? And which style did the filter tell you you were?

I’d like to think 1460 Boot but more likely than not I’m closer to the 1461 Shoe.


What does self-expression mean to you?

Freeing yourself from whatever constraints have you blocked off from being your authentic self.

How have you found 2020? How has the pandemic affected your work, and if so have you found specific ways to cope with this?

I work from home and spend a lot of time here to begin with. I found that just constantly working has helped me through some of the tougher patches. I mean, I’m not alone in this so I try to reach out to others as well. It’s been trying for a lot of people, not just myself. But yeah, talking to my cat Mitas way more than ever. Showering her with compliments helps.


What does Dr. Martens mean to you?

Tradition and quality.


What do you stand for?

Free Wi-Fi for all. Education reform.


If you weren’t doing what you do now, did you have a plan B?

Probably be a fisherman or something as I’m on the water and watch them go out every day. There’s a lot of discipline and honourable attributes I like about providing a service like putting food on someone’s table.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your industry and what it takes to become successful? What are people’s presumptions about your creative field?

Following trends is a dead end, do what you feel is the most honest work you possibly can. I suppose most people still dismiss the fact I make art for a living. There’s a lot of sacrifices one has to make to dedicate their lives to it.


What have you learned from this year?

There’s definitely such a thing as too much downtime. Can go a little batty real quick.


What advice would you give to young people trying to get where you are?

Learn as much as you can wherever you’re currently at. It will come to fruition down the road. I’m still pulling from my experience as a designer from years ago.


See more of Leon’s work here.
Read more about the creatives that inspire us at DM’s, here.

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