Without a shadow of a doubt one of the best things about my job is having the opportunity to meet new photographers and illustrators every day. It is, and always has been, a real privilege to chat to people about their work. I never really know what to expect when I walk over to reception to meet these artists, I never really know what kind of person will be waiting for me. And over the last ten years I have met quite an eclectic mix of personalities that have entertained and enhanced my day in some way.
But no one in recent times has brightened up my day quite like Shaniqwa Jarvis. Even her name makes me happy. As she walked into the coffee bar with her purple dress and sunny disposition I could feel the atmosphere in agency lighten. Without saying so much as a word she managed to tell us all to relax and chill a little. By the time we sat down I really wanted her to be my new best friend.
Shaniqwa, a native New Yorker, has lived in London, LA, New York and is now currently based in Jersey city. With an amazing studio space in Mana Contemporary, apparently Jersey City is turning into a huge artist community (you heard it here first !). After initially planning to become a Montessori teacher, a mishap with an application form sent her instead in the direction of a stylist internship at Paper Magazine. While assisting on fashion shoots for Paper, Jarvis reignited a love of photography that she had discovered in junior high school. She started studying photography again and the rest is history.
Shaniqwa moved to London in December 2007, took up photography full time and ‘spent a lot of time cycling around in the rain while crying because London was so dark ! ’. She also created her first brilliant series ‘This Charming Man’ which documented street cast young men photographed in their own homes, exploring the ways in which these young men live and how they express themselves.
This Charming Man exhibited in London and Tokyo and suddenly everyone wanted to work with Jarvis. Alongside a ton of editorial work, especially in music, Jarvis has now shot for Sony, Adidas, Nike, Converse, GoodHood, Asos, Reebok, Stussy and seems to be the queen of Supreme, collaborating regularly with the brand.
Her most recent project is a very cool series about people and their cars in Los Angeles. Comprising of three short stories featuring Victor Saldana, Howard Nourmand and The Gibbs Family the three films and series of photographs explores the aesthetics of classic mid-century automobiles and their owners in sunny LA.
Jarvis describes this project as an ‘Ode to Los Angeles’, with Nowness adding that she captures ‘that dizzying bright light, wanderlust, and overly excessive car use that you only get in LA’. It is seriously great. Watch the film. And just listen to that music. Because that music by the way, is what it sounds like when Shaniqwa Jarvis is in the room.