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Prefab77 decorates new Dr Martens shop in Newcastle

When design outfit Prefab77 were asked to decorate the new Dr Martens store on Tyneside, not much imagination was required as Sam Wonfor explains

Artist Marc Ross, with his work in the new Dr Martens store in Newcastle
Artist Marc Ross, with his work in the new Dr Martens store in Newcastle

“IT’s kind of like wallpapering... in a very abstract way.” Marc Ross is explaining the intricacies of decorating the walls of the new Dr Martens shop in Newcastle... although looking at the resulting artwork, I’m guessing he would probably charge a bit more than your average painter and decorator.

The artist – and longtime partner in Newcastle-based design collective Prefab77 – has just finished installing his panoramic vision of the iconic brand in the shop, which opens this week, following a couple of long days in-store installation.

“It’s never finished in your head though,” he laughs. “I left there last night thinking it was done, but there’s always extra things you think you might do. There’s a few days until opening though, so there’s still time.”

Having counted themselves a fan of the Dr Marten brand since establishing Prefab77 more than a decade ago, Marc and founder Peter Manning, were delighted when they were approached to get involved in a pitch.

“Dr Martens always use local companies when they’re launching new stores and OPR (a public relations company in Newcastle) were pitching to look after the opening. They asked us if we’d like to be involved – which is always the best way to get a job!

“We put some bits together and it went from there.”

Once they got the gig, as it were, Marc and Peter started the way they always do with a job of this kind.

“The brief was quite loose... it was more of a history of what the brand was about and all the cultural references over the years. There had to be bits in the work which referenced the city where the store was going to be,” says Marc, who studied at Northumbria University.

“With things like this, we usually ask the client if we can use old source imagery – like old adverts, slogans, pieces of ephemera that they might have lying around,” he continues.

“Because of the nature of what we do, we can weave in anything,” he adds, referring to the signature layered and collage-style of their artwork.

“They gave us a full file of old imagery and stuff, which was a great starting point. Then we weaved it together with our stuff and it came together quite quickly.”

And it wasn’t like they needed acquainting with the brand, which has become synonymous with rebellious style since the first boot came off the production line in 1960.

“We’ve always been fans and so the match was perfect. It wasn’t like we had to try too hard to gear the artwork to suit,” says Marc.

“The pieces we’ve been creating for the best part of 10 years share the attitude of the DM brand anyway,” says Marc. “Some of our existing artworks have the Dr Marten boot in them, whether it be on a girl’s foot or something. It was a great job to do... and it’s probably our highest profile work in the city to date.”

To celebrate the launch of the Newcastle store, Dr Martens will launch their ‘#STANDFORSOMETHINGNCL Search’ – a regionwide hunt for an authentic Newcastle Doc Martens wearer to star in its international Spring/Summer 2015ad campaign. To enter the competition, local characters of any age are being asked to tweet their photo and a statement of what they stand for using @DRMARTENS #STANDFORSOMETHINGNCL throughout September.

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