ARTIST INTERVIEW: Shawn Merz of Mr. Merz
Founded by Shawn Merz, Mr. Merz is luxurious line of beautiful Turkish towels. The company, as Shawn explains, “is a platform to create sustainable and environmentally friendly products with a cultural heritage and bringing them into the contemporary setting of the U.S.”. We spoke to him about his inspirations.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
I’m a half Chinese half Swiss 25 year old who grew up in Basel, Switzerland and Laguna Beach, California before attending UCLA School of Art. Upon graduation, I worked in a dental office in DaNang, Vietnam for a year. Upon losing 25 lbs, having permanent tonsillitis, and looking a bit like Gollum, I returned to the U.S. to recover. Somehow I stumbled into becoming the studio manager and managing editor of a famous fashion photographer and his magazine. I remember my first day at work was at Milk Studios shooting the cover of Cosmopolitan featuring Khloe Kardashian. That was pretty cool. I had literally gone from the country side of Vietnam to the most decadent and glamorous industry that many people dream about. All these experiences compounded into making Mr. Merz. Mr. Merz is a platform to create sustainable and environmentally friendly products with a cultural heritage and bringing them into the contemporary setting of the U.S.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Absolutely. I draw inspiration from where I am. Moreover, I think it’s pertinent to spend time in the “birth place” of my products. With my endeavor in Turkey, I spent a month and a half working in a bazaar, working with weavers, and learning all aspects about what I was making and doing. This time spent allowed me to bridge Turkish culture with California culture while adding a bit of my Chinese Swiss twist to it.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
Alvar Alto Desk
Caran D’Ache Ballpoint Pen