I was introduced to Hatch Show Print after a university art teacher saw a restaurant exhibit of my linocuts and woodblock carvings and said to me, "You need to see this dying old show poster shop downtown before it goes out of business." I responded, "What's a show poster?" So she took me to see Hatch Show Print, and there it was, this cornerstone of southern culture. Carved woodblocks leaned into each other, stacked next to photoplates of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, somebody named "The Willful Stumble," and everyone in between. This was 1984.
Everything was still basically there in one place, even though the shop had been rifled through from time to time. It was obvious that if the shop continued to lose money it wouldn't be able to stay in the location it had been at since 1921. It likely wouldn't survive all the changes that were about to occur in downtown Nashville. In 1992, the shop relocated just around the corner to 316 Broadway and its contents were donated as a gift from Gaylord Entertainment to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
I used to do most of the printing and designing at the shop-including all of the band posters. However, little by little with each passing year, I have become more chained to the shop's deskwork. We have an entire staff to design and print all those posters now. Every now and then I'll throw my hat in and say "let me do that job," but for the most part my printing is relegated to the woodblock one sheets and the monoprints. This is a natural progression of things.
I think it's accurate to say that when I started at Hatch I needed that place as much as that place needed someone like me. I had a college degree but was waiting tables, and that shop had degrees of success but was waiting for tomorrow. I never imagined we would be seen as a "destination" for graphic designers, or that letterpress would enjoy such a revival as it is today. All I wanted to do down there was print posters, put some meat on the bones of the shop's history, and maybe even write a book.
Manager, curator, and chief designer of Hatch Show Print