Limited Release: The Black Quartz Collection

Work meets play

We love that moment when passion and work intersect on The Modern Trail.

Inspired by making discoveries and finding new paths, photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis sought out portrait subjects who carved their own space in their fields.

She captured nine subjects in their studios, classrooms and warehouses to photograph them in their element. Below, we’ve showcased two of these men, each modeling the Black Quartz Collection (check out four other interviews for the Chestnut Quartz Collection).

On her inspiration behind the project, Shaniqwa said, “Each of the nine subjects have taken non-traditional routes to get to where they are today. In my opinion, that takes a lot of ambition, style, patience, and dedication. I photographed them at work, in their own offices and the results are these intimate and thought-provoking images that shed light on daily routine.”

Below, the portraits reveal the self-expression, individual style, modern workplaces and the visionary men who occupy them. 

The Artist

Erin D. Garcia  -  @erindgarcia  -  Los Angeles

If careers are in fact made by blazing trails, can you take us down an abbreviated version of yours? In other words, how did you get to where you are today?

I was born and raised in the south between Alabama and North Carolina. I made it to LA in 2001, started to focus on music and drawing and now, I draw more than I make music.

Do you work to live, live to work or a combination of the two?

If I’m out all day with friends, at the beach, backyard or park, having food or hanging out, most of the time I’m also parsing ideas about problems that I’m working out in the studio.

It’s definitely a balance. You have to go into the world to create new ideas – it’s not only your thoughts that matter.

What about your work brings you the most pleasure?

Just thinking. Standing in the middle of my room concentrating on the best possible answer to a problem that, for all intents and purposes has no validity outside of my head.

It’ll be a great idea – I might even start talking to myself, maybe even do a little dance – but the only application for it is how I perceive and create my work and possibly, how I see other people’s work. But those brief, solitary moments of comprehension are what I really enjoy.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done, work-wise?

I don’t know about hard, but I find it tough to push things out into the world sometimes. I’ll work on an idea for weeks, not show anyone, spend all this time figuring it out, and I’ll be really excited about it.

Then, some weird thing pops in my head and I decide to not show it. I’ll just hold the idea back for a bit until finally, the idea just feels old and it ends up in a box in a room. It ain’t hard but it’s not always easy to trust yourself.

What’s inspiring you right now?

Details. I’ve always been interested in just making things work – I want them to work well – but, that’s as far as I’ve ever wanted to take it. Now, I’m not mad at a little gloss. I mean, what’s a car without a good paint job?

What music are you currently listening to to get into work mode?

I’ve been listening to Tony Allen a bunch; I like that he can go fast and slow at the same time.

What one item of clothing represents your personal style?

I don’t think I can pin it to a single piece of clothing but if I look at what has remained constant over the years: everyday I wear a thin gold chain.

The Art Director & Professor

Stephen Serrato  -  @sserrato  -  Los Angeles

How did you get to where you are today?

Slow and steady wins the race. I discovered graphic design when I was 18 and quickly identified with it. Along with taking every class I could related to the Arts & Design at my local community college, I obsessed over the discipline and spent countless hours working on personal projects.

However, I did take my time off this path. Sometimes its good to pull off the road and explore. By the time I went back to Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, I was 23 with more life experience and ready to pursue my career full-steam.

I was constantly challenged, studied under some amazing designers and congregated with a small but inspiring group of individuals who are friends and colleagues to this day.

From 2006–2008 I freelanced with multiple studios, collaborated with like-minded designers and artists, taught a bit, and had my own clients (mainly independent record labels).

Then, I moved to the Netherlands to study under Karel Martens at the Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem. There are not enough words to sum up my experience. It was there that I knew that teaching would become an integral part of my career.

All of my mentors who are teachers were able to balance education with their own practice. Fast-forward to now – I’ve found myself back at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena teaching Typography and mentoring a younger generation of designers.

Do you work to live, live to work or a combination of the two?

Both. I love what I do and I am blessed that it continues to sustain me.

What about your work brings you the most pleasure?

Collaboration with others. Being able to translate someone else’s message into a shared vision.

What about your work brings you the most pain?

Clients who say they respect what you do, yet actually don’t put their full trust in you. Over the years I’ve gotten better at avoiding these creatures, although every now and then they creep up on you.

What’s inspiring you right now?

The youth.

What music are you currently listening to to get into work mode?

Anything by Julio Bashmore & Seven Davis Jr.

What one item of clothing represents your personal style?

Raw denim jeans. Workman-chic.

To get your own pair, check out the Black Quartz Collection that Stephen and Erin are modeling.

Learn about more inspirational artists, craftsman, musicians and creatives on the Modern Trail – check out our past and present MarkerMakers, like musician Jamie N Commons and photographer Benjamin Holtrop