Pride is a chance to honor everything Dr. Martens stands for — diversity, empowerment and rebellious self-expression — and with our 2018 Pride boot, we continue to support and honor the global LGBTQ community. This year, we’ve taken it a step further, and asked four LGBTQ artists to create artwork featuring this year’s 1460 boot to celebrate Pride.
Chella Man is one of a kind. As a 19-year-old deaf, genderqueer, Chinese/Jewish artist currently transitioning on testosterone, his boundary-breaking worldview — and his graphic, visceral art style — is unlike any other. Living by the adage “Be Your Own Representation”, Chella Man documents his transition experience on YouTube, and is a columnist for Conde Nast’s Them, educating others about issues surrounding being queer and disabled within a safe space (all while studying virtual reality programming at The New School in New York City). Read on for his thoughts on his art’s recurring themes, advice to his 16-year-old self and his first pair of Docs.
Tell us about yourself and your artwork in general . . .
I am a 19-year-old, deaf, genderqueer artist, currently transitioning on testosterone. Art has always been cathartic for these frustrating emotions. It is a type of therapy for me; so, I am constantly sketching, especially on the subway. I feel as if the abstraction of my art reflects this state of mind. The sharp, geometric lines incorporated in my art mix together, creating a type of calm chaos. It has its own original style due to my unique perspective of the world being deaf.
What has been a recurring or important theme in your work lately?
Recently, I have had a few revelations about maintaining a healthy relationship after looking back upon my first serious one when I was sixteen years old. So, most of my sketches have been based around this.
Why is Pride Month important to you?
It is a time to pay tribute to how incredibly far queer rights have come, but it is also a reminder of how far we have to go.
Tell us about the work you created for Dr. Martens and what inspired you.
For the sketch, an androgynous subject appears, wearing the Dr. Martens’ pride boots.
The hands of the individual are linked to create the sign “UNITY” in American Sign Language.
The sketch overall represents how closely connected the queer community is as we come together annually to celebrate our identities and the history behind them.
What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
It’s worth it. Keep going.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
In the summer going into 8th grade, I was bored out of my mind, so I took a trip to my local bookstore, bought an encyclopedia, and started memorizing it all.
Tell us about your first pair of Docs . . .
My first year of college, I found the black and white brogue, wingtip shoe. I instantly fell in love with the design as I have always loved a bold mixture of black and white. Most of my artwork represents this.