Bijan Berahimi (FISK)

Age: 29

What does he make? The images in his client's heads spill out onto the page.

Bijan Berahimi has his adolescent hormones to thank for his graphic design career.

In high school, Berahimi developed a crush on his art teacher. When she mentioned needing a website for her horse-painting hobby, he volunteered to build her one, despite having no clue how. He took an online tutorial and just sort of winged it.

"She gave me, like, $150," he says. "And I thought, 'This could be something.'"

Up to that point, Berahimi, a first-generation Iranian American, had an interest in art, but no idea how to make a living at it. As the son of immigrants, he felt pulled toward a more practical profession—he thought becoming a pharmacist seemed "pretty chill." But with that first paid gig, everything changed.

"If I didn't find graphic design, I don't know what I would be doing, to be honest," Berahimi says, "because I felt lost most of my childhood."

After graduating from the California Institute of Arts, Berahimi made his way to Portland, following his dream of working at Nike. After a year at the sportswear giant, he left in 2014 to open his own design studio, Fisk. (He also opened a gallery under the same name with partner Michael Spoljaric.) In the three years since, he's taken on a multitude of clients, ranging from Nike projects to album campaigns for musicians like Tiesto and Toro y Moi to a complete branding redesign of West African restaurant Akadi in Southeast Portland, which he offered to do pro bono simply because he loved the food.

Aesthetically, Berahimi admits his style can be hard to pin down, but the key lies more in his process than the result. He's big on conversations—when developing a concept for Toro y Moi's Outer Peace album, he and frontman Chaz Bundick discussed everything from normcore to old Enya record covers. And in the case of Akadi, he dove into the visual language of the Ivory Coast to come up with a look reflective of the owners' heritage.

(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)

"I don't like to make things out of nothing," he says. "I like to have references and do research, and study things."

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