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3 Fish Studios is a workshop and studio where art happens daily and visitors are always welcome. The owners Eric and Annie and their 2 employees make affordable art: paintings, prints, magnets, postcard sets. We got a chance to interview Eric in August 2017.

Check out their website here www.3fishstudios.com and their super popular Instagram here instagram.com/3fishstudios (follow along with Annie’s Doodle a day series!)

You should also stop by their studio/store in the Outer Sunset, at 4541 Irving St (@ 47th Ave) for the complete experience: they are open 10am-6pm everyday.

Eric, what’s your story and background?

I was born in Michigan in the 60s, and hopped the California Zephyr for San Francisco in the mid-80s, drawn by the dream of being an artist in California. I ended up working in print houses doing production, and was involved in the early days of desktop publishing. This ushered me into the first tech boom, and as I became more seasoned in the software industry, it became less satisfying.

My gut told me that if I put as much work into my art development as I put into software development, things would work out. It was a long grueling ride to get to a place where I could support myself with my artwork, but it happened and I am going to be eternally grateful to San Francisco for being a place where dreams like mine can come true.

How did 3 Fish Studios get started?

After years of making art in our home, we started participating in ArtSpan’s Open Studios in the Fall of 2004. Then, after 2 years of selling art out of our garage in the Outer Richmond, we decided to open up a studio in the Dogpatch. We wanted a studio where we could make our art, collaborate with other artists, and engage the community with classes, events, etc. So 3 Fish Studios was born in 2006. We have been in business for eleven years!

[In addition to owners Annie and Eric,] we employ two other artists who help us with production. We also try to get a youth intern or two in during the summer.

Who are your clients, and what are your main products?

We sell a lot directly from our studio, but we also have great wholesale relationships with shops like the SFMOMA store, Green Apple Books and design boutiques around the City and California. Our designs are inspired by living our lives here, so there is deep vein to tap into.

We’re widely known for the re-introduction of the “I Love You California” Bear, and we’ve been enjoying the public discovering other parts of our line. My “California Rising” piece was recently featured in Time Magazine as the lead for their story on the California pushback on the Trump administration.

This lead to more exposure for our other linocuts- many of which are based on the beauty of our 7×7 peninsula.

Annie’s Doodle-a-day series on Instagram is also a huge hit, with thousands of followers waiting to see what she’s going to post every day.

Where does the name ‘3 Fish’ come from?

Our name comes from Ireland, where Annie was born and lived until she moved to SF in 1989, just two weeks before the earthquake. Her family name is Galvin, and three fish are prominently displayed on their family crest!

Anything new at 3 Fish Studios?

We were just awarded “Best Art Prints” from San Francisco Magazine. This followed our award of “Small Business of the Year” in District 4 by Supervisor Katy Tang and the rest of the Board of Supervisors!

We’re honored to be so widely recognized by our community for the work we do, and that inspires us to keep making new work. And I am working on a new Godzilla print for the popular monster series, this one wreaking havoc on a new addition to the SF Skyline. This new block will be printed -with a steamroller!- at the Roadworks Printmaking Festival next month.

What does the future hold?

We were fortunate enough to purchase our building in 2013 with the help of a Small Business loan, and that changed everything. It cemented us in the community and gives us the security of being able to continue doing our work here. So the future holds the same promise as the present! We’ll be doing our work, selling our artwork, and we’ll provide a space for the community to engage in our process.

Why manufacture locally?

We love to say, when people visit our studio, that everything they see here is made here. We think making and buying locally makes a huge difference – it gives a simple purchase a lot more impact as it is easy for buyers to see that supporting a small business makes a big difference in the community.

Why did you join SFMade?

We joined SFMade early on -I think in 2008- when the organization was just starting, because we knew how important it was to be identified with San Francisco. Mark Dwight at Rickshaw Bagworks was actively recruiting businesses in the Dogpatch at that time, and it was easy to sign on with the enthusiasm he brought to the organization. We’re really pleased to be part of SFMade, and look forward to many more opportunities to engage with its members in the years ahead.

– an interview by Pierre @ SFMade


Photo Credit: leslie sophia lindell photography