On the corner of 19th and Mission, Shawn Cotter arranges his grey jacket on the handlebars of his girlfriend’s scooter. A cigarette between his index and middle finger, he turns to me with a good-natured smile. 

“I was living in New York, but my girlfriend got a job offer and was living here,” he explains, “I moved here back in May.”

“I do sculpture—like clay or stone. But I’m still settling in and [I’m] just trying to find out where to start.”

He pulls up his right sleeve to reveal the words, ‘While I breathe I hope,’ etched into his bicep in black ink.

“These are my family’s words. I’m not sure where the exact origins of the motto came from, but [my aunt] tracked our family history back and found our code of arms and everything. Once I heard that that was our family motto, I thought that’s excellent because I generally try to live by that.”

At present, he said, he’s jumping from job to job. “Whenever it starts to really get me down, I think, just gotta keep carrying it on. I’ll eventually find something that sticks.”