Almost every day during Covid I have run past TwentySix Café, the local coffee shop near my house. I used to visit more frequently when I would walk my dog stopping to catch up with a couple of friends, chat with some acquaintances, grab a cup of tea and a dog treat. Then I’d carry on with my walk. I was always refreshed after those short visits but still, I felt like something was missing. It is hard to take the time and be present on most days of our life. Our busy schedules, thoughts of work, and worrying about far-away family and friends keep us from seeing what’s important and right under our noses.
By Abby Morgan
Hidden in plain sight, only slightly off bustling Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, FISK, is a design studio and art gallery on the border of the Eliot Neighborhood. Your best chance of noticing FISK, their name emblazoned on the facade of their space, is if you plan on dropping by Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen or Mothership Music in the near future.
Founded by Iranian-American graphic designer, Bijan Berahimi, FISK evolved from a zine into a gallery and professional design practice in 2014. Its evolution coincided with Berahimi relocating from Los Angeles to Portland. Design-wise, FISK’s heart is in cultivating strong relationships with clients, focusing on typography, identities, and experiences. They have worked with Toro y Moi, Cult Classic Magazine, Nike, Akadi, and the University of Oregon.
On the gallery side, FISK hosts artists from all over the nation and world. In the last six years and at the time of this article, FISK has put on nearly 28 shows featuring artists trained in commercial practices such as graphics and set design, animation, and illustration.
Design and art are treated holistically. Seamlessly and architecturally interwoven, each discipline at FISK informs the other, and often, the intersection happens through products. Made in collaboration with other makers, Maak Lab and Cloudforest to name a couple, the shelves of the FISK store are lined with unique books, prints, and objects.
At FISK, there is never a dull moment and it is that energy that Berahimi says FISK thrives on.
“Diversity is essential to what we do. We want to offer Portland a glimpse into what the world has to offer and we’re doing that by bringing innovative, exciting artists to the community. No two days are the same, no two projects or products identical. We are always trying to bend the rules or make up our own. We like to have fun and we’re good at it,” Berahimi explains.
It is this mentality of “let’s make cool stuff and have fun” that has allowed FISK to flourish in many ways, especially through free, community events. This summer will be no different. Berahimi along with co-curator Michael Spoljaric, will kick off summer 2019 with a show by British artist, Sophy Hollington. Opening on June 14th, Hollington’s relief prints explore themes and symbolism in folklore.
Type designers and font fans alike, mark your calendars for August 2nd as local type foundry Future Fonts will celebrate their one year anniversary. Their site allows typography designers to upload work in progress type specimens for peer review and purchase.
FISK plans to offer a couple small pop-ups and get-togethers throughout the rest of summer, with dates announced via their newsletter and social media. If you’re curious about what is to come, drop by or email hey at fiskgallery dot com to join their newsletter –both the gallery and store are open to the public.
Wednesday-Friday 12-6, Saturday and Sunday 12-4
Follow FISK on Instagram @fiskprojects @fiskgallery
FISK at 3613 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Portland, OR 97212
Before there were the whitewashed walls of the small gallery space next to Bridges Café, there was clutter and a grotesque carpet. Heidi Snellman and her friends pulled out the carpet, added a wooden window bench and transformed the “box with a great window” into Union Knott Gallery.