This month we bid a fond farewell to The Fuge, one of the two brilliant graphic designers who helped me birth The Bollard a dozen years ago. Our other founding art director, Sean Wilkinson, went on to start the successful branding-and-design firm Might & Main several years back, and The Fuge now leaves us to concentrate on his own rapidly growing business, Table 6 Designs, which he launched with his wife, Jessica Ouellette (a.k.a. Lady Fuge).
Known to the authorities as Mich Ouellette (and to the staff at King of the Roll as Fresh Oyster Michael — long story), The Fuge was an original member of Table 6, the official fan club of the intergalactic, psychedelic musical duo known as Eggbot, which played Portland’s clubs and bars during the waning days of the previous millennium. That’s when I first met Mich, who became The Fuge when he and Sean (a.k.a. Country Rhodes) paired up to host a popular comedy-bingo night at the Free Street Taverna (now the Dogfish Bar & Grille).
The Bollard was conceived in a haze of smoke and alcohol on the Taverna’s back deck in early 2005, and debuted online that summer. The humor and enthusiasm Mich and Sean brought to this enterprise were as crucial to its success as their formidable design skills. You haven’t realized it, but The Fuge has been inside your head for a long time. In addition to gracing these pages, his work is all over town. For example, he designed the skyline logo for Portland Buy Local, and the new logo he made for Bayside Bowl is now a prominent feature of that skyline. He’s designed album covers for many of Portland’s best rock bands (including the forthcoming Covered in Bees album, Vulgar Display of Chowder), and Table 6 Designs’ clients include many of Portland’s most popular businesses, including Coffee By Design, Eventide, and Central Provisions.
In addition to doing all of our in-house ad-design work, The Fuge has taken hundreds of photos and created scores of graphics for this magazine. He’s been my companion on dozens of assignments over the years, like the time we went into Parkside late at night, with an armed bodyguard, to interview ruffians on the street (“The Dark Side of Parkside,” August 2009), and the emotional day we spent with Furniture Friends, delivering beds and chairs to needy families around town (“Like Christmas Every Day,” December 2016).
There would be no Bollard today without The Fuge. His crucial contributions in the beginning were just that — the beginning of 12 years of dedication to this publication, including during some very lean, dark and desperate times. There have been more months than I care to contemplate when I knew that had Mich quit, The Bollard would be finished — not only because he provided moral support, but because there’s no way we could have afforded to pay someone to do everything he does for the meager (and usually late) compensation he received. I never dared tell him that, but I’m sure he knew, which makes his willingness to stick with this business all the more remarkable and worthy of my deepest gratitude.
So thank you, Fuge, or Mich, or Michael, or whatever the hell your name is. You’ve kept this crazy dream of mine alive and enabled it to continue, hopefully for years to come.
— Chris Busby