Bremerton's new art studio, Fingers Duke, gives exposure to young artists

Graphic designers Greg Cook and Mark Gaviglio stand next to the T-shirts at Fingers Duke on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. The design studio and screen printing shop aims to use young artists for their art shows and retail products. - Lynsi Burton/staff photo
Graphic designers Greg Cook and Mark Gaviglio stand next to the T-shirts at Fingers Duke on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. The design studio and screen printing shop aims to use young artists for their art shows and retail products.
— image credit: Lynsi Burton/staff photo

The artists at Fingers Duke want to take what aspiring artists think is impossible and turn it into reality.

They rip T-shirt designs from private sketch books. They display paintings from amateur artists in their gallery. They teach young entrepreneurs how to show their pieces and promote their work.

“If we are looking through a sketch book and say, ‘This needs to be on a shirt,’ we have the power to do it,” said designer and printer Mark Gaviglio, 21.

Fingers Duke, on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton, is run by seven people in their late teens and early 20s, and caters to a young demographic. It has printed original T-shirts and posters since September, opened its gallery for First Friday Art Walks since December and opened retail hours this week.

The people who work there are all students or alumni of Northwest College of Art in Poulsbo and they hope to give young artists like themselves a starting point where they can learn to show their work and gain experience early in their careers.

“In school it seemed like galleries were unattainable, like you’d never get to that spot,” said graphic designer Greg Cook, 22. “With this, we say, ‘Yes you can do it. If you create it, we’ll display it.’”

Nicole Gelinas, a 23-year-old freelance graphic designer in Poulsbo, showed some paintings at Fingers Duke in December for Bremerton’s First Friday Art Walk. It was the first time she had publicly shown her work outside school.

“It’s really hard to show art unless you have connections or do really hard networking,” Gelinas said. “Fingers Duke is really good for people starting out to have that and put that on their resume.”

In addition to providing a platform for young artists, Fingers Duke also sees itself as an all-in-one service center for original art and graphic design, doing website design, screen printing, promoting other artists’ work, networking and producing original T-shirts and posters for businesses and events.

And if they can’t create it, they will contract with other local artists or designers to accomplish a task.

“That’s the whole idea, this being a community collaborative for artists,” said Andrea Sullivan, 22, sales and marketing coordinator.

Fingers Duke also helps clients promote their events and distribute their posters.

“If anyone needs anything, we’re not afraid of going out and helping them out,” said Derek Gress, 23, general manager and designer.

The company sees itself as one of the few businesses in Kitsap that offers their range of services - with most graphic designers gravitating to Seattle, there is a dearth of such work west of the Puget Sound, they said.

“A lot of people we work with really want local,” Gress said. “Kitsap is really great about wanting to shop local and do business locally. There’s not a lot of accessibility to stuff like what we’re doing over here. Most of the big names want to be in Seattle.”

There is also a lack of modern art in the area, said 24-year-old Adam Runestrand, a graphic designer and freelance artist who showed paintings at Fingers Duke in December.

“For people from oustide the Seattle area, there’s not much of a younger crowd for gallery showings,” he said, adding he was surprised at how many people attended the First Friday Art Walk event. “I was impressed with how many people showed up. They made it feel really contemporary. I liked the style of what Fingers Duke was.”

The Fingers Duke designers say they’re tapping the talent that’s already here.

“We have such a huge community of designers and talented, creative people that we can do pretty much anything,” Gress said. “I think that’s something that this area could really use.”

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