Errant is a journey encapsulated in a gem.
My name is Rafael Rios. I'm a jewelry designer, professional photographer, educator, and creator of Errant.
I was born and raised in Guatemala City, but my creative journey began on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina while I was studying commercial photography. Latin America has a rich history of artisans selling their crafts and art in the street markets. I would sell my photography prints at the market, and quickly became friends with some of the best jewelry craftsmen in Buenos Aires. This is where my curiosity for both jewelry making and traveling began.
I returned home to Guatemala after finishing my studies and built a successful commercial photography business, but I was still eager to explore the rest of Latin America and take my creative expression to another level. In 2013 I decided to set out on a series of adventurous documentary photography projects dedicated to capturing the diverse experiences of Latinos across both the South and North American continent. I believed my images could be used across Latin America to bring awareness to the social issues shared by so many countries.
As I set out on a journey to explore Mexico, I stumbled upon my first jewelry mentor in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California. Javier Campos, a traditional Mexican silversmith, used an air bellow torch to create his jewelry. From Javier I learned the basics of silversmith from melting materials, stretching wires of silver, creating pieces from wire, setting stones, reticulating sheets of silver, and casting objects using the lost wax casting technique. My earliest work reflected many of these techniques and this skill set now serves as the foundation of my filigree practice.
After Mexico, I set out to Colombia where I documented different ancestral festivities and taught photography workshops. While admiring the goldsmith work of the ancient Tairona people in the Museum of Gold in Santa Marta, I was invited to visit Mompox to see the work made by contemporary jewelers. The small town of Mompox is next to the Magdalena river and has a long colonial history connected to the extraction of gold from the Andes. During colonial times, the Spanish sent some of the most talented jewelry makers to this area to prepare jewelry pieces for the royal family and the Catholic Church. The art of filigree has remained in Mompox since then. I sought to find the most talented teacher and was received as the apprentice for Eligio Rojas.
After years of adventures, I have finally found the time to unpack all the treasures I collected on my journey and create Errant, my jewelry brand. I am also the founder of Ojo Creativo, which provides bilingual photography classes to young people in San Diego and Latin America. Now I divide my work between my photographic projects and my metalsmith practices.