New Toronto store that screen prints their own designs has been years in the making
A new store in Toronto screen printing their own attention-grabbing designs has been years in the making, and it all started with something we're longing to get back to: hanging out in live music venues.
Paranoid just opened up their own storefront a month ago at 640 Dundas St. West, selling their own brand of streetwear printed with wacky designs that might reference anything from smiley faces to Garfield to aliens and magic mushrooms.
Bucket hats and shirts read "half empty" in script.
The brand is a partnership between Caleb Cooper and Matt Chrones Scott, who developed a relationship making music videos for Cooper's band Diemonds.
They first started screen printing together in 2014.
"We first explored the idea of buying a screen printing press on a foggy weekend at the Bovine," Chrones Scott tells blogTO.
"We both had screen printing experience from working at other shops and had an in on some cheap equipment, so we scrounged some cash together and bought our first setup."
They moved into shared creative space in Chinatown where they started screen printing merch for bands as well as their own designs.
Quickly outgrowing the space, in March 2015 they committed to the brand and moved Paranoid Print Company into 609 Queen St. W.
Chrones Scott is the main illustrator and designer, having fallen in love with screen printing after learning it in high school and having worked for both larger and underground printing shops.
He says his ideas for designs are inspired by "life's absurdity, magic mushrooms, the hypocrisy of religion, the BS of politics, and the corruption of humankind."
"Some ideas come to me in the shower and I have a rough sketch within ten minutes, and some ideas build themselves over hundreds of hours of drawing a single concept," says Chrones Scott.
"That said, the collaborative aspect can not be denied. Many concepts are brought to the table by each of us and many designs are worked out over a session of laughter and beer."
Chrones Scott and Cooper come together to choose colours and designs for garments, and collaborate on all the details that bring apparel to life.
"We both have a strong passion and love for streetwear and there is a lot more to clothing design than the graphic illustrations that are so prominent in our branding," says Chrones Scott.
"We have no standard process and no real set schedule. We are constantly evolving and creating in different ways as we juggle the weight of running a business-to-business print shop as well as a brick and mortar streetwear store and an online store."
Though it's a juggling act, Chrones Scott and Cooper may have never had the opportunity to open a brick and mortar if not for the time the pandemic gave them to focus on their own brand and online sales.
"When the pandemic hit in 2020 we really had a turning point as a business," says Chrones Scott.
"Our clients were largely based on live events and retail sales for their business and the orders virtually stopped coming in for bulk merchandise."
They ended up actually running out of space in their print shop, and had to expand to the retail space to fulfill online orders and offer in-person sales.
Chrones Scott says the new store is "hard to miss if you are walking by" and that their "location next to Kensington Market gives us good exposure to the type of people that can dig us."
Considering their out-there designs, Cooper and Chrones Scott have relatively wholesome future plans: they're both engaged, and Chrones Scott is expecting a baby girl.
"We are just excited to be doing what we love and making our own rules," says Chrones Scott.
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