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Art

PRIDE 2018: DR. MARTENS SPEAKS TO BROOKLYN ILLUSTRATOR MOHAMMED FAYAZ

Pride is a chance to honour everything Dr. Martens stands for — diversity, empowerment and rebellious self-expression — and with our 2018 Pride boot, we continue to support and honour 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.

The Brooklyn-based Mohammed Fayaz‘s illustration is all about representation: through his art, he documents and illuminates queer and trans people of colour, giving visibility to an otherwise left-out group. In one word, we’d call his illustrative style happy — celebrating and uplifting the beauty and joy found in his community. Also one-third of Papi Juice, a collective at the intersection of art, music and nightlife, the 27-year-old spends his time intentionally creating space for QTPOC to be themselves. Read on to get Mohammed’s thoughts on Pride, how his community influenced this particular piece — and his favourite dish to serve at dinner parties.

Tell us about yourself and your artwork in general…

My name is Mohammed and I am a non-binary Queer Muslim from Queens, NY. I am an illustrator whose work focuses entirely on my community of queer and trans people of colour—we are so big, bold, and vibrant and I feel an immense gratitude for this ability to depict my community as brilliantly as I know us to be.

What has been a reoccurring or important theme in your work lately?

I’ve been very intentional about showing characters touching one another lately. Whether it’s two lovers embracing in the night, or best friends holding hands, a touch on the shoulder, an arm wrapped around another, a soft kiss—it’s been super important for me to create these images of folks unafraid to connect and sharing time and space together. We can get so lost behind our screens that we forget how simple the root of all of this connectedness is, and that’s those hugs that lift you up and those sweet kisses that bring it all the way home.

Why is Pride Month important to you?

I went to my first New York City Pride at 17 in what was a great introduction to a very large, very diverse community. As I grew older, my peers taught me that Stonewall was indeed a riot, and at its roots were Black and Latina transwomen paving the way for all of us. Knowing that this history was left out when I first came across Pride, the importance of honouring our queer ancestors and carving space for those left off the books, the anthologies, and the posters. Like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera and the countless unnamed, my community today is working and kneading acceptance and excellence into the culture, and it’s my duty to detail our stories.

Tell us about the work you created for Dr. Martens and what inspired you.

When I think of Pride, I think of chosen families. I think of the crew of gay youth that accepted me as a teenager, the queers of colour that taught me self-worth and community, the Black women that help me with my hair care journey, and I thought of illustrating this crew in my favourite NYC pastime which is chillin’ on a stoop in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Everyone has their own flavour, their own backgrounds, their own histories they’re bringing to the table and at the intersection of all of these things is a sisterhood (regardless of gender) and a good old time. Warmth, strength, respect, ease, and familia is what I wanted these kids to convey and they remind me of crews I’ve seen all over the world.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Be kind to yourself, Momo. You will know beauty, both in you and in others. You will find truth, you will learn to cherish silence, and the 20 million influences and stressors coming your way don’t stand a chance. And most importantly, bring your mother endless joy. (P.S. “gender” is about to make a whoooole lot more sense to you and your beautiful body!)

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.

I am suchhhh a homebody! It’s funny because I throw a queer dance party called Papi Juice and am such a social butterfly, but you’d be hard-pressed to find me outside of the house. I love to host dinner parties—currently very proud of my salmon, and dreaming of taking a crack at a crawfish boil later this summer if I can find the nerve. 45-minute after-work recipes are my current forte and my spice rack is my best friend. Currently wondering what to do with tonight’s Argentinian shrimp…

Tell us about your first pair of Docs…

My first pair of Docs were a classic, 1460 leather boot that I bought with one of my first paychecks almost 9 years ago. I had only just started developing my personal style, and as my jeans got slimmer I was craving a polished and classic look that could handle New York’s unpredictable seasons. After seemingly endless indecisiveness on floral vs classic, I, sure enough, was on my way to breaking in my first pair of Docs. To this day, I still wear them in rain, snow, and any day I’m giving a sleek and slicked back low bun!

Photography by Hawa Arsala

Styling by Milton David Dixon III

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