Nassau is one of my favourite streets in Toronto. In one little block between Bellevue and Augusta there's the original I Deal Coffee, eco-friendlies Heart on Your Sleeve and Left Feet, t-shirt emporium Hardboiled, low-key watering-hole Ronnie's Local, DIY central Lettuce Knit, and as of last June, poster, stationery and design boutique Kid Icarus.
Owners Michael Viglione and Bianca Bickmore opened Kid Icarus to provide a venue for the city's many prolific artists and crafters to showcase their talents and wares. The store sells contemporary crafts on consignment, screen printed posters, art prints, handmade papers, postcards, greeting cards, stationery, t-shirts and handmade toys. Almost all of the products are created locally, although the store also carries a few items made in other provinces and U.S. cities that border the Great Lakes.
In the back of the store, Michael prints a variety of different posters, gift boxes and wrapping papers through their custom screen printing shop Studio XIX. All are printed on recycled paper using water-based inks. In fact, many of Toronto's best-loved bands including Metric and Apostle of Hustle go to Michael to print custom-crafted, limited run gig posters, a selection of which can be found on Kid Icarus' shelves.
Among my favourite items currently on sale are the beautiful hand-printed 2008 calendars (each month is designed by a different artist) and a series of freshly screened t-shirts.
Busy prepping for a group screen printing project and art show that will come together later this year, Michael recently took a time-out to fill me in on some more details about the store. Read my interview below:
What's the story behind the name Kid Icarus?
Icarus is the character in Greek mythology with wings made of wax and feathers. I liked the idea of handmade wings. It relates to what the store is about - DIY handmade. I wanted a young, contemporary sounding store name, and so 'boy' or 'kid' was perfect. Icarus Kid sounds playful, but in the end Kid Icarus won the vote. There's a nice verbal flow to it.
I really think the name reflects who we are. Not to be confused with the video game some may recall. I think we are far enough past that to worry about it.
How's the location on Nassau Street working for you?
I could not imagine this store being located anywhere else in Toronto besides Kensington Market. Sometimes it's hard to explain what the store truly is, and in this culturally eclectic part of the city, it blends in beautifully. The only problem with Nassau Street is that it's off the beaten track from the hustle and bustle of streets like Baldwin, Kensington, and Augusta Ave.
People who don't know about the store could easily miss it completely. Those who stumble upon the store almost accidentally, walk in wide eyed and gaze with excitement. That's when we know our vision has come to fruition.
What's the relationship between the store and Studio XIX?
Studio XIX is our custom screen printing shop. We've been working with various bands and visual artists since 1999. I found that many people are unaware of what screen printing really is. There's a fascination by the lack of machinery, and the whole handmade process that goes into this type of printing.
I wanted to be able to sort of display what we were creating, and open the studio for the public to see. This is how the storefront/studio concept all started - to share my passion for screen printing in a public environment, and stock it full of things that others had created by hand as well.