Stockist Spotlight: Kid Icarus, Toronto
GETTING TO KNOW OUR STOCKISTS
Maker’s Magazine is always finding new places to hang. Issue 2: The Morning is patiently waiting to be picked off the shelves of small shops run by people with big dreams - individuals who have diligently carved a path of their own - dreamers with stories worth sharing. In an effort to get to know the awesome people & shops stocking Maker’s Magazine, we’ve launched a Stockist Spotlight Series on the blog.
In today’s edition of Stockist Spotlight, we’re ‘popping by’ Kid Icarus to talk shop with co-owners Mike and Bianca. Kid Icarus is a screen print studio and retail shop nested in Kensington Market (a must-see if visiting Toronto). The storefront offers an impressive collection of handmade goods to shop, and behind the counter is home to the in-house Kid Icarus Print Department, where you can watch their printing process unfold.
Mike and Bianca both come from a background in the arts. Mike studied design at OCAD, and after falling in love with screen printing, graduated with a major in printmaking. He worked at a local screen printing shop for a couple years until they shut down, and later printed part-time for bands and artists while his full-time job selling computers carried the bills. Bianca went to school for graphic design, and spent some time exploring different design opportunities, from layout & web to corporate branding. Pre-shop days, they dabbled in their respective mediums, pursued various business ideas, and after some trial and error, arrived at the perfect balance between studio & shop... and Kid Icarus was born. Kid Icarus allows Mike and Bianca to continue practicing their craft alongside fellow printmakers, while supporting local artists and artisans from many mediums.
How did Kid Icarus grow from an idea/dream to a full-time print studio & shop?
The idea really morphed over time. The first step was just to be able to financially survive by offering screen printing as a service. Once there was enough business, we started collecting a lot of studio prints that we were able to sell. We like brick and mortar retail, and the social aspect of a small shop always appealed to us. Most studio’s had seasonal or yearly sales, but we thought, why not sell all year? The answer at the time was easy - it wasn’t sustainable. The average person then didn’t even know what screen printing was. As technology became more prevalent, most people were able to print in full colour right from their own home. This actually became our advantage. The printing method became niche; nobody was doing it. So we thought, let's let people see the process happen right in the retail space. And if poster sales can’t pay the rent, then let's sell contemporary crafts from all the people around us who are making great things. So looking back, we didn’t really have a grand scheme 16 years ago. It’s a lot of hard work plus a little bit of the right timing that made this what it is now.
Why is print important to you?
We share a Yin and Yang with the visceral hands on print world, and the digital world. We like new and shiny tech, and find ourselves spending a lot of time learning and reading and listening to tech feeds about the latest and greatest. But sitting with a morning newspaper, sketching in a notebook, or staring at screen print saturated with rich colour - it somehow feels grounding. Being able to print multiples and share these prints, whether it be a large poster or small greeting card, becomes very important to us. We feel like we're sharing our skill.
The chaos of classes and cultures all smashing together in one giant city block. Hustle and bustle meets slow and sleep. We’ve never felt so relaxed in such a crazy place. It was a little more rough around the edges in the late 90’s but it sucked us up and we knew we could never leave. Next year we will be celebrating our 10th year!
What is your role in the Kensington community, and how can creatives get involved?
We feel like we might have stepped back a little in the past couple of years, in terms of an active role in the community. There definitely is no lack of creativity here in Kensington. There are so many people and things happening that sometimes it’s nice to sit back and be a spectator. A few times a year it’s great to get out and do some live screen printing for different events, but what really interests us the most these days is our workshops. We love teaching people how to print and better than that, how to do it from home. We get a lot of praise from the classes and it’s fulfilling. The more people printing the more awareness there is about the medium.
As 9-5ers & side hustlers ourselves, we always love to ask this question… From your experience, what advice can you offer to aspiring artists & makers with little money but a big dream?
Start by being a weekend warrior. Break down your dream into phases that you can manage. Dedicate your days off to your craft, and sacrifice your down time to learn how to do everything you need for that phase of your plan to successfully happen. When you start to make money hire someone to do what they are good at so you can focus on what you are good at. And most important, don’t be afraid to pivot or fold when you know you are on the losing side. That experience you’ve gained will just make the next endeavour that much easier.
Shop the goods, meet the peeps:
KID ICARUS | 205 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4