It’s located in the ocean-bordering Dogpatch district, but that’s not the inspiration behind 3 Fish Studios' name. It actually comes from the Galvin coat-of-arms from Annie’s family in Ireland. In addition to three fish, the phrase “By Industry We Prosper” also appears on the coat. Seems like a pretty positive foundation for a business, right? Annie and Eric love inviting people into the studio to check out the space and work in progress, as well as encouraging people to make their own art in a printmaking class:
SCOUT: Eric, your work features everything from an Atari joystick (link to actual pieces on the site) to The Wiggle sign. What does it take for something to inspire you so much you want to craft a piece around it?
ERIC: I'm beginning to realize I am hopelessly nostalgic. Most of my work is recalling a memory from a time in my life that has a certain staying power. For instance, the Atari joystick recalls my youth in Michigan, and a specific memory of spending snow days with our white German shephard named Thor pulling my sister and me down the snowy streets on a toboggan, then going home afterward and playing Tank Battle on the Atari system. And the Wiggle reminds me of when I would bike from our home in the Outer Richmond to our studio in Dogpatch, before my tire got caught in the Muni tracks and I took a spill. I'm always looking for iconic imagery to remind me of these things.
SCOUT: Annie, we’ve seen your 49 Mile Scenic Drive piece in a bunch of different places. What’s the story behind it?
ANNIE: When I first moved to San Francisco, the sign really caught my eye. It's so iconic and simple. The 49 Mile Scenic Drive was introduced on September 14, 1938 as a promotion for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. The drive also presented views of the newly-built Golden Gate Bridge (opened May 1937) and the Bay Bridge (opened November 1936). In 1955 the famous blue, white, and orange seagull sign was designed by local artist Rex May. I have done - and continue to do - many paintings with different interpretations of the sign, but I always give Rex May credit in a card I attach to the back of each painting. I've never done the drive, but one of these days I will!
SCOUT: What’s been your most memorable piece to date?
ANNIE: I did a custom painting for Twitter that hangs in their San Francisco offices and somehow manages to get into any photo that accompanies an article about the company. When Lady Gaga visited Twitter recently, there was a photo of her with my painting hanging on the wall behind her.
ERIC: I started painting SF and Oakland shipyards shortly after moving into our studio in Dogpatch. One particular painting drew the attention of a collector here in SF, and he came to the studio to view it and discuss my process in creating it. He purchased it, and arranged for delivery to his home in Pacific Heights. When I arrived with the painting, it was clear it was now part of wonderful, curated collection, and it dawned on me that my dreams of being an artist were coming true.
SCOUT: There’s a heavy SF influence in both of your artwork. What do you find so special about this city?
ANNIE: I moved here from Ireland in 1989, two weeks before the Loma Prieta earthquake. (I considered the City "pre-disastered" and stayed.) I'm so glad I chose San Francisco for my home. I love the tidy size of the city, the ocean at my doorstep, the diverse neighborhoods, and of course the amazing creative people I meet here. It's such a popular destination around the world that I like to find "locals only" landmarks and paint them - like Sutro Tower and the Doggie Diner head on Sloat.
ERIC: San Francisco is the only place I have ever lived where people say "You should do that" instead of giving you a litany a reasons why it won't work. I find that so inspiring, and this attitude has fueled me creatively and professionally. I really don't think we could have accomplished as much have in any other city. Also, I am constantly inspired by the diversity of the people and the landscape here. From its inherent natural beauty to gritty urban underbelly- there is always something to look at more closely.
SCOUT: You two aren’t the only ones crafting some amazing art at your studio, you also hold printmaking classes. Tell us more about those and why you started them:
3 FISH STUDIOS: About a year into the studio, people began asking questions about how Eric made his prints. A couple of Annie's co-workers convinced us to teach a class showing them how to do linocut printmaking, and the classes evolved organically from there. Word of mouth soon brought us the attention of Daily Candy, who ran a feature on us, and the next thing you know, we have a waiting list. Since then, classes have become the lifeblood of the studio. It is great to watch people experience the joy of creative process, from the initial trepidation (I am not really an artist) to the satisfaction of the finished piece (I made that!). We are very enthusiastic about what we do, and teaching classes is a natural extension of that.
SCOUT: You’re very open to people dropping by the studio. Why do you love having visitors?
3 FISH STUDIOS: We think our studio awakens the creative spirit in people. We love when people drop by to check out our work and see the studio. It's a wonderful space. We often see visitors - who might work in an office all week - looking longingly at the etching press and the paints and we just know that they want to stay and make something. Everyone has that drive and inspiration as a kid, and we love rekindling it.
SCOUT: You guys attend a lot of events. What’s coming up next?
3 FISH STUDIOS: In May we are going to be exhibiting at the Maker Faire, and Eric is part of a show opening at the Graton Gallery on May 29th. In June, Eric will be showing his Panamax paintings at Suite Five, truly one of the coolest salons in the city. We will be preparing for the Renegade Craft Fairs in SF and Chicago as well.
SCOUT: Besides your site and coming out to the studio to visit you, where else can we get our mitts on your work?
3 FISH STUDIOS: Zinc Details, Rare Device, The Curiosity Shoppe, Needles & Pens, Rag Co-Op and CandyStore Collective, but we are always interested in talking to new people about carrying our work and/or giving us a show.
SCOUT: Your studio is out in the Dogpatch, which we think is an under celebrated hood. What makes it unique?
3 FISH STUDIOS: A neighborhood anchored in the traditions of shipbuilding and steel mills is not what immediately comes to mind when you think of San Francisco. Dogpatch has that, as well as remnants of what the city was like before the earthquake, before the fires, as you walk down around 22nd and Tennessee streets. It is all very intriguing. We are thrilled to be watching the neighborhood catch on with both locals and visitors.
SCOUT: The floor is yours for Shameless Plug Time:
3 FISH STUDIOS: We also put out a monthly newsletter which you can subscribe to on our homepage. We also have a growing fan base on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Olivia Carter.