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Throughout Dr. Martens history our boots and shoes have been worn by an eclectic mix of people, who have fought for and celebrated their individuality. WORN DIFFERENT NYC is a project bringing together NYC-based artists and makers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to celebrate self-expression with a clash of art and music.

We’re excited and honored to be working with Brooklyn-based artist, Tamara Santibañez, for the second time. Her work is rooted in subcultural symbols and explores the different meanings we assign to materials and objects. Read on for more about Tamara, her artwork, and the significance she associates with Dr. Martens.

Tamara in her Brooklyn studio.

Introduce yourself, what do you do?

I’m a tattoo artist, visual artist, and publisher. I feel like everything I do feeds into and stems from everything else; they’re impossible to separate. I’m always figuring out as I go, which to devote time to or prioritize at the moment. Check out samples of Tamara’s work.

What brought you to NYC? 

I moved here to go to art school and stayed – it’s been twelve years now.

What’s the best thing about living in New York?

I like that it’s as private or public as you want it to be. You could spend all day in different places with different people or be anonymous in a crowd. I love that I’ve lived here twelve years and haven’t even come close to exploring everything. There are tons of free resources and events. Also, New Yorkers might be in a hurry, but they’re the nicest people. When they make time to talk to you, it’s genuine.

Where’s your favorite place to grab a slice of pizza?

I used to love Vinnie’s on Bedford for vegan slices, donuts, and the clever signage. Now, I’m beholden to Sizzle Pie for their ability to make a gluten-free pie with vegan cheese and real pepperoni.

What’s your favorite neighborhood?

I definitely have a soft spot for the East Village and LES (Lower East Side). As a young punk moving to New York, St. Marks Place, Tompkins Square, ABC No Rio, and the like were meccas. I worked at a coffee shop on St. Marks for years, and have fond memories of giving free coffee to all the kids that haunted the area.


Without giving too much away, what are you working on for Worn Different NYC? 

I work with objects that are symbols of subculture and explore the non-verbal cues we use to communicate things about ourselves. I’ve been imagining shoes as people recreating power and relationship dynamics.

How would you describe your personal style?

I used to joke that I was a heavy metal mami chula. These days it’s more toned down and I practically live in Carhartt overalls with a tube top underneath for summer, turtleneck for winter.

What comes to mind when you hear Dr. Martens?

To me, Doc’s are an emblem of subculture, of queerness and the working class.

Tell us about your first pair of Docs.

My first pair of Doc’s I got as a gift for graduating high school. I think I was sixteen – I was a nerd. They were classic black 10-eyes with zippers up the sides. I felt like I had finally made it as a punk.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Being a positive force for change.


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