Posts Tagged ‘Toronto’

My First Train Ride to Independence

Author: robertinseattle

I was originally determined to go to Montreal to attend Sir George Williams University to go for my Master of Fine Arts degree. Dad has always promised that he would pay for our college when we finished high school. Unfortunately, Dad’s interpretation of going to college meant that he expected us to pursue a ‘professional’ career: lawyer, doctor, architect. But definitely NOT art! Ah – Chinese parents and their expectations for success!

I realized I had creative skills early on and never let anything hold me back in exploring my artistic skills. I was so blessed to have had an encouraging art teacher during my junior high school years and at the end of Grade 9, she awarded me with a scholarship for Grade 10 at the Nova Scotia College of Art! (I think it was Mrs. Williams?) She was one of the first people to ever acknowledge and praise my art and it truly gave me the confidence I needed to keep at it (especially during the generally unpleasant three years of my Junior High life). And she kept awarding me with another scholarship for the next year’s class until she gave me that scholarship for my first year of High School. So I also ended up going through high school art classes on scholarships each year until I was finally awarded a full scholarship to the College. (Dad would certainly never pay for any of my art classes!)

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TBT: Customized T-Shirts in the 70’s

Author: robertinseattle

Digging through some old boxes of photos and memoribilia and came across a few things from back in the 70’s.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I’d made my first big bucks by building several successful t-shirt businesses. I eventually sold my businesses and properties in Toronto and bought a camper van to travel across North America and down to Mexico and back for over a year, eventually living in Paris where I did a lot of painting and writing before settling back in Toronto in ’75.

I ended up building a new business with t-shirts as customization became even more personal because of technology. My friend, Thach, and I launched FaceLift, to bring personalized t-shirts (and other products) into the mainstream. Xerox had brought out the 6500 color copier a year or two earlier and we had come across a company that developed a plastisol-coated paper that could run through these color copiers and produce full-color iron-on transfers that could then be pressed on to t-shirts, tote bags and all sorts of personal goodies. So we launched a shop inside the Hudson’s Bay Center Mall at Yonge and Bloor to generate retail business. Then we also pursued a wholesale business where we would provide these customized products to all the photo processing shops that were as popular as coffee stands are today. Anyone remember those? PhotoHut, PhotoLab and more. (Of course, those businesses are long gone with the advent of digital photography and photo processing inside of almost every major drug store chain these days.)

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