Friday, December 4, 2009

The History of a Great American Poster Shop

I just finished reading "Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop", in preparation for my upcoming internship. It is a really great book for people who are interested in letterpress posters, or the history of Nashville. The book goes into a lot of detail about the times, places, employees, and even some technical details about the shop, and considering that the shop has been in operation for 130 years,that is a lot of ground to cover.

The story is a straight forward history detailing the founding of the company, and the basic types of posters printed. It's interesting to see how advertising with posters has changed so much in 130 years at Hatch even if technology has not. It seems when entertainment changes, posters are still there, whether it be minstrel shows, country music stars, wrestling, state fairs, or politics, Hatch Show Print has been there! For me, the best part of the book was being able to witness the decline of the business and the triumphant return of the shop to its glory days in its new location.
--(above) My first Hatch Show Print--

I feel like this end part of the book is where I come in. Around 3 years after the book was published I went on a road trip to Nashville with my brother and my cousins, to see the Curiosa Festival. When we arrived we were too poor to afford tickets and instead spent our time riding Go-Karts, playing mini golf, and going to the Opry Mills mall. We also went downtown to checkout the happenings. While walking past a building I looked in the window and saw a poster of the concert we were unable to attend. Inside I bought a copy of the poster I had seen on display in the store window. That store was Hatch Show Print.
--(above)Pieces from my Hatch Show Print collection, not including window cards, or t-shirts--

At this time I had yet to take a single printmaking class in college, but I knew that the distinctive Hatch Show design was something great. A few years later my mom went to Nashville on business. I asked her to ask the employees of Hatch if they were hiring. A few days later she returned with a couple of postcards, a print from Hatch, a t-shirt, and news that they were going to have internships available in the Fall of the next year. I checked out the website info and began looking into what I needed to do to get the internship. That summer we went down for the day and like always, stopped in to Hatch Show Print, where I bought a sticker, a t-shirt, and a print. As a joke I asked them to go ahead and put my name down on the list for interns the following fall. The person behind the counter told me I would have to apply online. For the next year there was nothing on my mind but to work on my BFA show/graduation, and think about the internship that (hopefully) awaited me afterward. I wondered what it would be like to work in the shop, printing the way people have been printing for hundreds of years! Getting to learn a new type of printmaking, getting hands on experience, meeting new people and being able to live on my own in a different city.

A few months later I graduated, and I sent off my resume for the Fall 2009 session of the internship at Hatch. I got a call back for an interview, and I thought that I did okay. They decided not the pick me for whatever reasons, but said I could still be considered for future sessions. I was excited by that, but I felt like I shouldn't get my hopes up. They didn't pick me before, so why would they pick me now? I thought I should focus on getting a real job, moving out on my own, and maybe thinking about grad schools.

Luckily, (in a way) I didn't have a new job, or a place of my own, or a grad school selected, because I received an email from Hatch Show Print a few weeks ago inviting me to participate in the February-April internship! I, of course, was bouncing off the walls with excitement and had to change my mission for my life once again. So that is pretty much it. This week I received my internship packet. Like one would expect, it includes letterpressed stationary with a personalized message, a card with a letterpressed history of the company, and a letterpressed price guide, as well as a bunch of photocopies relating to the behavior expected from interns.--(above) Letterpressed internship Packet--
As excited as I am that all of this is happening, I am also a little nervous. The people I have talked to at Hatch seem really cool and laid back, and the history of Hatch I have read seems to back that up. A community of musicians and designers with Luddite tendencies working together and listening to music (interns are not allowed to touch the CD player BTW) to preserve Hatch Show Print's legacy through production.

The intern manual is very rule heavy, and it needs to be, but reading it also brings in some self doubt. I can't let it get to me though, because everyone at my current place of employment tells me I am a machine! I work hard, and I take pride in my work, and Hatch Show Print will be no different. I can do this and it will be good for me. I feel that I will finally be able to work somewhere artistic, and be a part of something bigger. Hatch Show Print is a part of history, and when the next chapter of the Hatch Show Print story is written I will be a part of it.


  1. Hope you enjoyed your internship at Hatch. I started as an intern at Hatch in 2001, and ended up staying and working there for three years. In fact, I was the designer of the Curiosa poster that you purchased.

    Best wishes,
    Bethany Primrose

  2. Oh wow! That is amazing! I would have loved to have been asked to stay after the internship, but I feel very privileged just to be there for the 2 months that I did. I love the Curiosa poster. Thanks for your design! Did you carve those figures on the poster? Also I feel like I should apologize for my lateness with posting back. I never know when I get comments on this thing.