About Me

John-Michael Mendizza

I was born and raised in Southern California and now live in Erfurt, Germany. I work full time as a jeweler, but also practice Argentine tango and photography. Although these three activities are challenging in very different ways, they do have many things in common which fascinate me:


- They are creative and require improvisation.

- Form and composition play a major role in them.

- Each has a structural logic to follow.

- Precision and attention to detail are crucial for good results.


I am fortunate to be able to spend my time and energy with these endeavors.





As a young boy my mother brought me along when she went to the jeweler, who took the time to show me his workshop and demonstrate some processes like melting gold right before my eyes.


Years later while halfheartedly completing my bachelor in Global Studies at the University in Santa Barbara, I happened to take adult education classes in jewelry making. The additional chance encounter with Gregore Morin, a world class jewelry artist, lead to a part time apprenticeship.


After completing my bachelor degree in 2010, I moved to Germany, began the German apprenticeship program and became a certified Goldsmith in 2014. In 2016 I began working at Goldschmiede Backhaus in Erfurt, and in 2023 I took over the business.

Photo: Max Hamman // maxhamann.myportfolio.


Like a lot of people, I took ballroom classes in high school and college. While I enjoyed dancing in general, I was distracted by the variety of dances and thought it would be better to concentrate on one. So in 2008, I decided to take an Argentine tango class and got more interested in it. A few months later I met the woman who would become my wife and tango teacher. We now dance and teach together in Erfurt as well as around Germany and in the US on occasion.




Photography is the newest of my creative endeavors. My father is a film maker and photographer; while growing up I was encouraged to help with the equipment and play on film sets. He got me an old Yashica-D camera and taught me the fundamentals of photography, but it didn't hold my interest until later.


Later came in 2016, when I wished for a “real camera” to take pictures of my jewelry pieces as well as at tango events. As soon as I purchased a Canon DSLR I became increasingly hooked, resulting in thousands of pictures.

Photo: Pavel Metelitsyn // pavelseye.com

Less than a year later, with some encouragement from my boss, I became interested in analogue photography. I picked up a Rolleiflex from 1938, and started experimenting with film.


Currently my focus is on people, portraits and fashion photography. Using a mix of Film and digital cameras.