Marissa Geoffroy, artist and curator
Nicole Travis, marine biologist and environmental scientist

Marissa, tell us about your dog Kol. What is special about him?

Kol is a jet-black bat-eared wild man. I've always loved dogs, and animals in general, but he has surprised me with his impact on my life and my mood. Whether he's sprinting 35 mph after a ball, or curled up like a fuzzy donut in my lap, Kol makes me smile and shifts my whole outlook. He's also ridiculously good looking. Seriously, my dog gets cat-called.

Nicole, what is it about giant squid?

Giant Squid! They live in the deep ocean where they wrestle whales and have eyeballs the size of frisbees, what else do you need to know?! Humans have only explored about 5% of the oceans, so I know there is a lot of cool stuff just waiting to be discovered.

What inspires you?

Marissa: I'm inspired in life and in the studio by the work of great artists, both those who came before me and those practicing now. I'm inspired by the melding of concept and aesthetic, by artworks that bring visceral delight but also permit deeper examination. I'm inspired by examples of genius, but also - and maybe more so - by those people who tirelessly give it their all, whatever their undertaking. 

Nicole: Nature's processes inspire me. Yeah I know it's a cliche, nature is inspiring, but I love thinking about all the powerful movement and change in the natural world. I mean, just visit Northern California and watch the waves crash against the sea cliffs in clouds of spray as they carve out natural arches over centuries. So awesome.  

What are some of your favorite spots in Oakland?

Marissa: I moved to Temescal less than a year ago, and I'm loving it. There are some fantastic family-run Korean restaurants in my neighborhood. And Cholita Linda is another great place in walking distance. Now, that I reread the question and realize it wasn't food-specific...Oakland has awesome galleries. Just a few that come to mind: Vessel, Johansson Projects, Aggregate Space. Point Isabel is my favorite spot to bring Kol.

Nicole: I am a big fan of walking around Lake Merritt. I usually get pizza from Arizmeni Bakery and cruise around the lake with my husband. It's always great people watching, especially when nice weather brings everyone from the East Bay out with their dogs, skateboards, BBQ grills, tattoos, babies, instruments. It's such a mix! A fresh-squeezed greyhound cocktail at Cafe Van Kleef is also the best.

What's your favorite part of speech and why?

Marissa: Hmmm this is a hard one because I love words. I'm going to go with adjective. Adjectives add the flavor. They allow us to point out attributes, but also to communicate beyond objective description to express our opinions or impressions. 

Nicole: I love the conjunction. It's just so understated and under-appreciated. Conjunctions glue all the pieces of our sentences together and help bring together ideas in new combinations with new meaning. Also, the Conjunction Junction song.

Shop the story






What do you love about your Grammar shirts?

Marissa: I'm a sucker for a good twist on a classic. A white button-down shirt is never the wrong thing to wear. I'm not an ironer, so I appreciate that my Grammar shirts don't have to be newly pressed to look good. I can wear mine in the studio, and be all set to head from there to a gallery opening or out to dinner.

Nicole: I work in a lab where I usually wear a horrible lab coat over whatever I threw on that day. I try to dress up for presenting at scientific conferences though, and I love how incredibly confident I feel when I wear my Grammar white! It's like, "Yes! I can look fabulous, and also tell you why oxygen deficient ocean waters release greenhouse gases!"