Festival registration is open! Design Week 2020 runs April 18–25.
Back in the day, Fran Bittakis loved throwing parties around Portland. To help spread the word, she’d screen print her own promotional posters to pass around town
Meanwhile, her husband, Nick, was working for a well-known screen printing shop. When the shop owner decided to sell the business, Nick and Fran took over—inheriting rare screen printing equipment for an especially affordable price. The couple turned their skills and interests into a professional business, donning it “Seizure Palace.”
Eleven years later, Seizure Palace is one of Portland’s most iconic screen printing shops. The studio has printed for world-famous rock bands (Pearl Jam, Metallica, etc.), as well as the everyday three-piece garage band. They’ve also worked with major brands like Nike, adidas, and Harley Davidson, and they’re the go-to screen printing shop for many of Portland’s premier creative agencies.
And for Design Week Portland, Seizure Palace will host its first ever Open House.
According to Bittakis, Seizure Palace is “going all out” for their event: filling their 10,000-square-foot facility with an art installation, an arcade game (Street Fighter!), snacks, and beer. Attendees will get both a guided tour and a live demonstration of printing (Seizure Palace will do the initial layering beforehand, then execute the final layering with attendees). People can then take posters home with them.
Leading up to DWP, we spoke with Bittakis to learn about Seizure Palace’s passion for screen printing, as well as what makes the studio so singular and unique.
What distinguishes Seizure Palace from other screen printing shops?
What we do is very niche. I don’t think there are any other shops around here that do what we do. If they do, it’s most likely a smaller version.
Our process is also very old school and labor intensive—it’s not just pressing print and something comes out. But even though it takes a lot of time, most people really appreciate it. When you run your hand over the piece, you can feel the layers of ink under your fingers. It creates this tactile and very distinct look, almost retro.
Why does your studio go through such a painstaking process for each poster?
First of all, what artists do is a miracle to me—how do you think of something and translate it onto paper? That blows me away.
So when we work on a poster or a print, we’re aware of that process and what it means to the artist—of them being hired by a band or whoever, then working on a concept, then illustrating it and eventually translating it into a digital file.
Basically, we want to do the best we can for that artist. We know how hard they worked on the design, and we want them to feel really good about how we translate their artwork into something tangible.
What excites you the most about having this Open House?
When I went to a DWP event last year, I realized how important it was for me to represent Seizure Palace this year because nobody else does what we do. Also, the fact that I’m a woman and Thai…I think people like supporting a local business owned by a woman of color.
In our 11 years, we’ve never advertised, yet we’ve been lucky to stay extremely busy. But there are still people who don’t know about us. We’d love to have more of the design community understand how special our process is, and we want other designers to know we’re here so they can take advantage of our services.