This year marks THEMUSEUM’s third annual Beer + Series, where we pair unique topics with local breweries and industry professionals to deliver fun, exciting events. For this year’s third event, Beer + Screen Printing, attendees will get to make their very own ugly holiday sweater. We’ve partnered with Civilian Screen Printing and Abe Erb to make sure that everyone attending has all the tools and creativity they need to make their very own “ugly” holiday sweater!
How did you guys get into screen printing and decide to make it a family business?
It was sort of accidental to tell you the truth. I have a tattoo on my right bicep with the words “Accidental Aspirations” in it, which sort of sums up how we got here. In university my roommate and I started a small clothing company. Initially we were having the garments printed with a local Waterloo printer. A peer who also had his own clothing brand approached us about buying a screen printing press so we could print our own garments and cut out the middle person. We each threw in a bit of money and a few weeks later had a DIY printing shop set up in our basement. At the time my brother, Cory, was doing a lot of local punk/emo shows around town that we sold our shirts at. Eventually we all joined forces under the same umbrella and used the clothing company to promote our shows. Bands started coming up to us and asking if we could print their merchandise, which isn’t something we really considered, we mainly just wanted to print our own clothes part time. Within a few months we were printing for most bands in our local scene and our girlfriends were getting pretty sick of living in a full production print shop. At this point I quit my part time job, dropped out from WLU, and opened our first store front on Duke Street. The first shop was about 500 square feet and even that may be exaggerating, it was incredibly exciting none the less. We grew out of it in less than a year and moved a block away to Queen Street. We were at Queen for about 7 years before we moved to our new shop on Ahrens Street. The new space is beautiful and we finally have the room that we actually need. It’s funny to think that what started out as a hobby in the basement of a student house has grown into a full scale business with 7 employees.
What is the most unique design you’ve ever printed?
That’s hard to say. Honestly, I don’t think I can talk about some of the crazy things that we have printed in here. I feel that we are in a unique situation because of our roots in the local DIY scenes of art, music and culture. We work closely with a lot of artists and musicians that are always pushing the boundaries and challenging us to work outside our comfort zone. We love working on projects that are outside traditional “spot colour” screen printing. We’ve printed plate metal for guitar pedals, wedding registry books, pillows, posters, wood “round tuits,” beach balls, beer cozies, the list goes on; pretty much any weird thing that customers bring in, we print.
Why do you think screen printing has become so popular?
Hipsters, haha. I’m only semi-joking. I think as our culture becomes increasingly digital, and hands off, that there is a groundswell of interest in traditional hands on arts. This workshop is a perfect example. Craft beer has enjoyed huge amounts of success lately as people have become increasingly aware of the benefits of drinking, eating, and shopping local. There’s something about small scale artisan production that you simply can’t find with the mass produced. I believe there is a desire for people to connect to the products they consume, which leads to traditional arts such as small batch brewing and screen printing gaining popularity. Screen printing is an ancient art form, much like brewing, and they are both still practiced in ways that are very similar to how they were centuries ago. Of course both can be done at industrial levels, but what’s really cool is that they can both be done at home just as easily.
What do you think makes the perfect “ugly” holiday sweater?
Originality. It’s become a big trend lately. Everyone seems to be doing it from the Blue Jays to some of my favourite bands. I believe you want a balance between corny, original, and well designed. Keep some classic Christmas elements in there, and definitely keep it cheesy, but add something that makes it more than just a cheesy Christmas sweater. I was given a Boston Bruins one last year and I absolutely love it.
What is your favourite Christmas movie and why?
Definitely Home Alone. Cory and I definitely had a TalkBoy when we were kids. It was always a classic around out house, so many classic lines. James (our production manager) came in with this design he did in his spare time, it’s based on the scene in the hotel room with the old timey gangster movie.
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