Continuing our spotlight series in Golden Hill, we interviewed Taylor Johnson and Dusty Peterman, co-founders of Mortis Studio. Late last year, the duo opened a studio space at the corner of 25th and C Streets. With their unique style and approach, Mortis Studio has breathed new life into Golden Hill’s creative scene.

From left, Dusty Peterman, Co-Founder, Andrew Reyes, Senior Designer, and Taylor Johnson, Co-Founder. Not pictured: Tony Bartish, Studio Manager and Producer

“Enjoy what you do.”

Friends Taylor Johnson and Dusty Peterman launched Mortis Studio in 2016 after years of freelance work. “We felt we could offer something different,” said Johnson. That difference, it turns out, is the broad range of skills the pair bring to the table. From graphic design and illustration to video art direction and podcasts, Mortis Studio infuses their unique brand of “cool” into any medium.

Patagonia “Big Oil Don’t Surf” US campaign
A series of graphics were designed for Stussy with a look towards the past and into the future

Since its launch, Mortis Studio accumulated an impressive list of clients. Flipping through a magazine you’re bound to come across some of their campaigns and products. Well-known brands like Urban Outfitters, Patagonia, and Stussy hired Mortis Studio for graphic design projects. Music videos for bands like Django Django, Quicksand, and Turnstile all feature Mortis Studio art direction.

Mortis Studio collaborated with Urban Outfitters to create a series of graphic tees

Forgoing a shiny steel and glass skyscraper or remote office park, Mortis Studio boldly ventured down a new path. The team chose to open their creative studio in a retail storefront on a neighborhood main street. Having lived in the area years back, Johnson and Peterman knew Golden Hill had the atmosphere they were looking for. “We love being surrounded by movement in the community,” said Johnson.

But opening an office in a former pawn shop came with challenges and opportunities. The storefront at 1038 25th Street has a large display window once filled with jewelry and musical instruments. Other retail-to-office conversions would have removed the display and replaced it with curtains. Johnson and Peterman opted instead to transform the display window into a rotating art gallery. “I really enjoy seeing art in the window,” said James Milton, a resident of Golden Hill. “It’s the coolest part of walking down 25th Street.”

Inside the studio, Johnson and Peterman have decorated with bold colors and patterns; blurring the line between office space and trendy gallery. You won’t find any grey, soul-crushing cubicle walls at Mortis Studio. The layout reflects the openness and spirit of collaboration Johnson and Peterman are trying to cultivate. Indeed, it’s hard not to be inspired at Mortis Studio. Every direction you turn your head there is some eccentric piece of art to fascinate over.

Mortis Studio’s storefront façade features a rotating art gallery in the display window

Feeling like I may accidentally spend the afternoon exploring the studio, I asked Johnson and Peterman my final question, “What advice would you give a young entrepreneur?” Peterman was quick to answer, “Enjoy what you do.” One look around and it’s obvious Mortis Studio enjoys every moment of what they do.

We at the Golden Hill CDC commend Mortis Studio for investing in Golden Hill. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend away from brick-and-mortar retail leaving many unsightly vacancies. Experts agree, the solution to vacant storefronts will require new ideas. Mortis Studio’s transformation of 1038 25th Street represents the future, and we wish them success.

Mortis Studio loves collaboration and welcomes new projects. They are located at 1038 25th Street and online at Follow them @mortis_studio or send emails to

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