Paul Souza spent the summer of 1993 backpacking through Europe. His first job back in Carpinteria was at Galaxy Graphics, a small screenprinting shop in the quiet lane behind Carpenter’s Chapel, originally opened by Peter Small in 1972.
Just a few months after starting at Galaxy, Souza bought the business from the second owner, artist Margaret Gennario. He relaunched the shop under the name STP Screen Printing and has been screenprinting t-shirts, hats and other textiles for 25 years.
While other screenprinting shops have long since transitioned to automatic machinery, Souza prints all of his jobs by hand using a manual silkscreen printing press. With average jobs between three dozen and a few hundred, Souza prints thousands of shirts per year for nonprofits, schools, businesses, family celebrations, sports teams and so on.
STP started with 15 screens for regular customers and today has 500. Souza has cultivated a loyal clientele that stretches from UCSB to Carpinteria. “Over all these years, I’ve never missed a deadline,” said Souza, “I think that goes hand-in-hand with customer loyalty.” In 25 years, Souza estimates he has printed a quarter of a million shirts.
For the past five years, Souza has been using his screenprinting chops to help children in Cambodia. Every year, he prints school uniforms to donate to the Red Road School in rural southern Cambodia. The school was founded by Rachel Riggio, a graduate of Santa Barbara City College, with the mission “to give our students (the) opportunity to grow into future humanitarians of Cambodia who can help to make this beautiful country and world a better place.”
Souza travels to Cambodia to deliver the hats and shirts with the school logo. “It’s an adventure, but it’s really sweet. It’s the most important job I’ve had, memorable and wonderful,” said Souza.