Friday, 7 June 2013

Hatch Show Prints Nashville

I've already plundered a few of my holiday snaps from the recent US road trip (did you see the amazing Shack Up Inn in Mississippi? Loved that place!). There will be more plundering – we just saw sooooo much great stuff.

In today's post, may I introduce you to Nashville's legendary poster shop, Hatch Show Prints. Our friend Ashley used to live in Nashville and has some of their bright screen prints on her kitchen wall. When I admired them, she told me all about the shop. So while we were there we went to check it out.


This is the tempting wall that greets you as you enter the shop, which is also where the printing happens, as you can see lower down in this post.

I bought a postcard version of the cool Patsy Cline print, above (there's a clearer image below, too). Did you know that Cline was was the first female artist to headline her own shows in the late 1950s? I've been listening recently to modern Nashville singer, Caitlin Rose, who does a lovely cover of Cline's 1957 number, Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray. Gorgeous.

But back to Hatch.

Hatch began as a family-run business in 1875, when the two original Hatch brothers brought their letterpress skills from Wisconsin to Nashville.

They started pretty much as they continued, by advertising all sorts of southern American shows – from travelling circuses, to carnivals and vaudeville acts. The posters would be plastered up the sides of barns and city buildings. Meanwhile, the day-to-day work of designing advertising posters for filling stations, laundries, grocery stores, and movie theatres was the company's bread and butter (you can see the current range of advertising posters here).

And then, along came country music – which is probably made Hatch Prints (and, of course, Nashville) famous, rather than just busy – and explains why it is now owned by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, to which it was donated in 1992.

The company – by then, under the management of a new generation of the family – carved the faces of some of the genre's biggest stars into its woodblocks. Johnny Cash, the above-mentioned Patsy Cline and Hank Williams have all been immortalised by the store's inks and distinctive simple, graphic, bright designs – as well as legends from other genres, including Elvis, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. You can buy reprints of all the old favourites, as well as lots of brand new designs.  

And here are some of my favourite Hatch Show Prints. The good news is they recently opened an online shop and ship worldwide. And the prints are so affordable (they start at just a couple of dollars a-piece) that, even if you're outside the States, the cost of the postage should be off-set by the cost of your artwork. Probably best to buy a few then...

Above: Eat, Drink and be Married (good wedding present!) and Dolly Parton and her Traveling Band show poster.

I bought the Terrier on Duty print for Ashley, because as well as being our remote Nashville guide, she is also my Jack Russell Reggie's chief doggie sitter. It is printed from hand-carved lino blocks, with text typeset from antique wood typefaces typical of the Hatch archive, explains the blurb. It also informs us that the dog in the picture is Hatch's own hound, Finnegan, who is on duty at the shop Monday to Friday.

The other two prints are: Johnny Cash and a classic – but classy – tourist souvenir of Music City. And it really is a music city – you cannot walk more than a few seconds before finding another acoustic guitar and mournful singer covering Dolly et al, wafting from the next bar room window. God we loved it, even in the super touristy city centre where Hatch Prints has its home. Even the Civic Centre has giant speakers on the pavement, pumping out country tunes. Totally brilliant if country floats your boat – though, if it doesn't, you probably aren't going to be in Nashville any time soon.
 


And here's good old Patsy, along with a 1998 advertisement Hatch made for the Kentucky State Fair that I brought home for co-editor Abi (and, ahem, myself). We both do like an equine graphic.

Now, as they'd say in Nashville: have great weekends y'all!

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