Metropol Industries (formerly Metropol Event Poster Services) started as a gigposter delivery service in 2003. Employee zero was Steve Webb, a former promoter who recognized a need for a consolidated postering service during a tumultuous period for event marketing in Victoria; there were too many posters, too little space, and no communication. Steve felt that he had a solution with a system of fair and equal representation through a managed core poster service. Over a decade later, this system still operates 7 days a week.
Metropol EPS was run from a gymnasium in the Duck Building on Broad street, in space shared with a photographer and a graphic designer. Metropol existed for the first few years as a postering company and publisher of The Metropolitan Magazine, a local magazine featuring photography, artwork, music reviews and essays. It’s worth noting that this gymnasium and was the birthplace of the Metroball Dodgeball Society, Victoria’s premier dodgeball club and the Canadian representation in the 2008 World Dodgeball Championships.
It soon became clear that it was essential to offer poster printing services along with the design and postering, so Metropol struck up a deal for use of the photocopier in the back of a local bar. For the first few years, the poster printing was done by carting in boxes of paper on a hand-truck between bands loading and unloading. This was, of course, completely silly.
During this period, there was a surge in interest in gig poster artwork and Metropol employed a large number of graphic designers to make them beautiful. This time is often considered the Golden Age of gig posters in Victoria. There are hundreds of examples of great posters from this period, many done with multiple colour separations on a Risograph printer. Many of these artists have gone on to established careers in the design and illustration fields.
Metropol incorporated in 2008 and acquired some digital printers and cutters to offer full blown print services. The first street level location was opened in October 2010 in the Atrium building. The 300 sq. ft. space was a tight fit, but Metropol Print managed to make a name in the print world by offering fast-turnaround and extended hours.
Metropol decided to move the postering and design departments from the iconic location in the Duck building to a more suitable space in early 2012. A deal was made for a converted office in Chinatown which had street-level access and parking, two things that were sorely missing on Broad St. The Metropol Studios was born. This location has been renovated three times since to accommodate the changing needs of the space.
After a few years of goofing around with sub-standard equipment, Metropol entered the market of large-format printing in late 2012 with the acquisition of a Roland LEJ hybrid UV printer. The Roland LEJ was a huge leap forward, allowing for printing directly on to substrates such as wood and plexiglass. A storefront was leased in the Westshore to accommodate the space requirements for such a large machine and work began on renovating the unfinished storefront. Metropol West opened in January 2013. Since that time, services have expanded to stickers and lamination with the addition of a Roland Pro4 XR-640 and a Kala Mistral 1650 laminator. A notable feature of Metropol West is the front counter made with thousands of VHS cassettes. An image taken the day of it’s completion went viral on the web, reaching the front page of Reddit within 24 hrs.
In January 2013 (in a move considered crazy by many), Metropol moved the bulk of the print operations from the Printshop location with the installation of a Xerox 800 digital press in Metropol Studios. This move represented a shift from inexpensive and quick printing to a focus on quality and innovation. The space was changed drastically to store the huge volumes of paper required and the massive bulk to the digital press. In January 2015, most of the walls were removed to make way for a second digital press, the Xerox Versant 2100. These two machines working in tandem have allowed Metropol to grow into one of the largest digital print producers in Victoria.
The Metropol Design Studio was opened in September 2013 on the 5th floor of the Wilson Building in Chinatown, the same building as the Metropol Studios. It occupies a converted apartment with harbour views and the best sunsets on Southern Vancouver Island. The space serves as a home for the design and postering departments, as well as one of the most complete collections of original mirrored pinball back-glasses in North America.
The Metropol Printshop remains the customer service hub of Metropol and was given its first facelift in January of 2016 to better represent the company aesthetic by featuring outer space, robots and neon.
Metropol continues to grow and innovate; celebrating a decade and a half of hard work and good times.