In an annex of Philadelphia Brewing Company, Brian Potash, 39, owns and operates Devilfish Ink – a printmaking and graphic design company that he has run for 17 years.
But it wasn’t until four years ago that Potash took his business to the Martha Street complex, after some pit stops along the way on a road he had no idea he’d be heading down.
“I literally fell into the world of graphic design, professionally speaking,” said Potash. “I majored in fine art printmaking, but my outlook was that I didn’t go to art school for a career. I went there to learn.”
Three months prior to his 1997 graduation from Tyler School of Art with a BFA in printmaking, Potash created the first CD cover art for his band, The Sideshow Prophets. The band’s recording engineer at the time was the head of the graphics department of a local Kinkos, and upon seeing Potash’s design, offered him a job.
Once he graduated, Potash used all of his savings to purchase his first silk screen printing press. Potash continued to work on his own projects on the side until deciding that he’d pursue working on his own full-time.
With a desire for more of an artistic challenge than Kinkos had offered, Potash took his services to various reproduction houses in Center City before going to work on his own in 1999.
“It got to the point where I was working 50 hours a week for somebody else, and 30 hours a week on the nights and weekends on my own stuff,” said Potash.“I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, so I should do it now.”
On the road to getting established, Potash had worked from nine different locations throughout the East Kensington and Fishtown area, including a three-year stop at a building on the corner of Front and Norris streets. Unfortunately, when the building sold, Potash and Devilfish Ink were forced to relocate again.
It just so happened that a good friend of Potash had the space for him.
“It was dumb luck,” said Potash. “ I ran into Philadelphia Brewing Company founder Bill Barton at the Post Office and told him I needed space. Two weeks later, he offered me the space.”
Today, Devilfish Ink offers a variety of printing options and specializes in both modern and traditional ways of graphic art. Potash lives in the neighborhood with his wife, and The Sideshow Prophets are still going strong.
– Text, images and video by Mark Whited