At Dr. Martens, Pride is an opportunity to celebrate everything we stand for – diversity, empowerment and rebellious self-expression. Across America, we continue our tradition of supporting and honoring the LGBTQ+ community with our 2019 Pride boot (learn more about the boot and our support of The Trevor Project here).
Last year, we were honored to work with Brooklyn artist Mohammed Fayaz who’s illustrative work documents his community of queer and trans people of color. This year, Mohammed returned to interview his friend, the talented Loveis Wise as they brought their unique artwork to life on our NYC Herald Sq. store windows. Loveis is a freelance illustrator based in Philly (but soon moving to LA). Much like their name, Loveis’ work exudes happiness – bright colors, playful shapes, and empowering characters. See the mural they created and learn more about the artist below.
Photography by Justin J Wee
Mohammed: Good morning, really nice to see you. Can you introduce yourself?
Loveis: My name is Loveis Wise, I’m a freelance illustrator and designer based in Philadelphia currently but moving to LA soon.
M: Very cool, how soon?
L: In about two weeks.
M: Okay, this one is for both of us. When and where did we meet each other?…so, we met last year. Pride 2018, at the march.
L: Feels like I’ve known you longer though.
M: Yeah I must’ve known you before, in separate lives. Because the second I met you we clicked.
L: Exactly, it was instant.
M: I met you and our friends Adam and Ismael at the same time. And I was like, these are my people. I just felt so connected. I had seen your work because I had stalked you on Instagram.
M: And I was like “oh my god, this person is incredible.”
L: Yeah, likewise. I remember you being this ball of light when we met. It was just instant. We just clicked. I absolutely love your work and everything that you do.
M: Thank you. It’s nice because there’s always a lot of downtime at the parade, so it was really fun just to chit chat. There’s a really cute video of us marching, with our signs, looking like a million bucks.
L: And dancing! It was such a great time.
M: What do you enjoy about each other as individuals and artists?
L: Ohhh. With you, I feel like there’s no difference, you’re all-encompassing of both those things. You’re just an overall creative and amazing being. I love the way that you tell stories and represent your community and our community through your work and your visual voice.
M: Thank you so much. I’ve admired your work for a while. Even before I knew who you were, I saw your cover for The New Yorker – and it’s really nice because big moments like that are one thing that you do but then there are so many complexities to your work. So when I see the work that is really personal to you (and not exactly your commissions) I’m like ‘Oh I LOVE this, because it’s the YOU that I know. It’s very, Chaka/Whitney “I’m Every Woman.”
M: You’re all of these things. But I can tell when a piece feels very personal to you.
L: In your work, I feel like there’s no difference. You’re yourself wherever you go. And I really admire that about you. It’s like “I’m doing this thing, this is how it’s going to be, deal with it.”
M: I wonder if we’re part of this new wave of artists and illustrators that are like “okay you want to collaborate? This is what I do. Let’s get on the same page and do it together.” Instead of trying to do what I think they want me to do. Let’s collaborate on this truly, even if it’s a giant brand – let’s do this together.
M: Tell us about your artwork in general. What is your preferred medium or style, etc.
L: Right now, I’ve been describing my work as all about radical joy. And I try to literally manifest that in everything that I do. It’s all about storytelling and sharing different voices – from the queer community, from a person of color’s perspective. It’s all about body positivity through a digital medium. I’ve been dabbling into more traditional work too, like using paint again which is really nice. I love getting tactile and hands on.
M: I really like that sometimes I can’t even distinguish what’s digital and what’s not. I love that your style translates to so many different mediums so well. Could you talk about your use of color? The way that your colors talk to each other is so beautiful.
L: Oh, thank you. Color is something that has always been very important to me in my life. It definitely describes the mood, it describes emotion, and I try to really push that, whatever subject matter I’m working with. I like to deal with a lot of joyous topics because I want people to feel the things that they are seeing.
M: Tell us about the artwork you created for Dr. Martens’ windows and the inspiration behind it.
L: While creating the images that I made for the windows, I was thinking about how Dr. Martens are a staple in fashion. Especially during Pride. Every Pride that I attend, they’re always being worn. They’re just such a great statement piece. I wanted to show that and showcase different folks just celebrating themselves with what they wear.
M: Definitely talking to me. I get that for sure. How large is the piece going to be?
L: Pretty fucking big. I don’t have the dimensions on me but we’re just gonna wild out.
M: What are some of the challenges of creating this mural?
L: Working with glass can be a little tricky. Managing the layers and how the paint will lay on that type of surface… and then the size on top of that. But, we’re gonna work it out! It’s gonna be great!
M: Yeah! For sure. And the scale, that’s just fun to work with.
L: Yeah, I love working big.
M: You just get lost in it.
L: Definitely, but then you find your way. Like “this is a mess! But I’m just doing it.”
M: And then it’s a wrap, haha. So, what do you love about Pride Month? And this Pride Month especially since it’s going to be World Pride, which is such a big deal.
L: Yes, such a huge deal. In the past few years, just being a queer person and being within the LGBTQIA or plus community, it’s so important, and so loved, much more than before. I remember when I was younger, it wasn’t as accepted, but we were starting to get there. I feel like now, people are more able to just be themselves and be free. It’s much more loving, it’s much more embraced. I’m excited to see how this moment will translate over the next ten years. This is just going to be more normalized.
M: For sure. It’s exciting because I feel like this year, the roots of Pride are more relevant, with it being the 50th anniversary [of Stonewall]. Everyone is talking about where it actually started. It feels really good.
L: Yeah, we’re really going back to our history.
M: I went to Teen Night at the Brooklyn Museum and one of the drag queens, her performance was reading a passage from Marsha P. Johnson. And that was the performance. And I was like this is so historical and so beautiful. It represents Pride just as much as the parades and the parties.
M: So, tell us about your first pair of Docs. When and where did you get them?
L: Oh great question. I remember having a hand-me-down pair of the classics, when I was in high school. The first pair I ever bought were so special to me. They were the Jadon boot, I got them about six years ago. I had just started college, just started art school. I still have them, they’re really dusty, and painted, like WILD. I wore them everywhere and everyday. They were like my uniform.
M: I can see that. Young Loveis in college just stomping around campus with your paintbrushes.
M: So, I wanted to ask you, where is someone most likely to find you when you’re procrastinating on a piece? Where’s your sweet spot when you should be working?
L: Lately, this is gonna sound strange, but there’s this cemetery in my neighborhood. Everyone just runs in it and there’s a huge flower field. People picnic there, it’s really cute. So I’ve been walking there and I just lay out and vibe out, do my thing. That’s where I’m procrastinating because it’s the only way I can find peace… with the dead folks.
M: Haha, some quiet. It’s actually really beautiful because so much of your work has these lush, beautiful, green fields. And I feel like it’s probably coming from that space.
L: Yeah, I just love grounding, and being in nature. It’s super helpful. I almost always come home with ideas.
M: Okay and my last question. What do you love to snack on when you’re working on a mural?
L: Mm. Anything with dark chocolate, pistachio, or almond is great for me. And lots of fruit. Always fruit.