The Print Artist

In 139 years of un­in­ter­rupted op­er­a­tion, Hatch Show Print has be­come syn­ony­mous with Nashville’s en­ter­tain­ment his­tory. Meet the per­son who’s help­ing to keep that tra­di­tion alive.

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Explore - by ALEXAN­DER HOWARD @AlexMHoward pho­to­graphs by TEC PETAJA @tecpetaja

THE CLANK OF A WELL-OILED let­ter­press rings through Hatch Show Print as print­mak­ers work to com­plete a batch of posters ad­ver­tis­ing a Bea­tles tribute band. In spite of the shop’s lo­ca­tion in the mid­dle of Nashville’s rapidly ex­pand­ing down­town, in­side there’s an air of Mu­sic City’s past, when horses out­num­bered cars and be­fore neon lit up Broad­way.

Although Hatch be­gan in 1879, its golden age co­in­cided with the rise of Nashville’s best-known ex­port: coun­try mu­sic. As the sound of twang­ing gui­tars, fid­dles and ban­jos poured through ra­dios and dance halls across Amer­ica, Hatch po­si­tioned it­self as the No. 1 print shop for the in­dus­try, of­fer­ing show posters for some of the big­gest names in en­ter­tain­ment, in­clud­ing Hank Wil­liams, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash.

For more than a cen­tury, Hatch de­fined a “look” that be­came syn­ony­mous with coun­try mu­sic: bold col­ors, in­tri­cate de­sign and bal­anced type. In the 1980s, fac­ing com­pe­ti­tion from com­put­er­ized print­ing, the shop rein­vented it­self, adding com­mem­o­ra­tive art pieces to its reper­toire.

“One of the unique things about Hatch as a print shop is that we de­sign every­thing that we print and we print only what we de­sign,” shop man­ager Ce­lene Aubry says. “It’s been that way since day one.” Aubry runs the store, help­ing with every­thing from or­der­ing sup­plies to man­ag­ing staff. Then there’s the fun stuff: set­ting an­tique type, de­vel­op­ing ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, mix­ing ink and op­er­at­ing a let­ter­press to pro­duce Hatch’s iconic posters.

Aubry laughs when asked what drew her to the craft, which uses inked raised blocks of wood to press im­ages and type onto pa­per. “I stud­ied physics and architecture in col­lege,” she says. “But I grew up in a

house­hold where creativ­ity was en­cour­aged and we were al­ways mak­ing stuff.” She is fas­ci­nated with the let­ter­press print­ing process, the tac­tile na­ture of hand­carved type, the ease of pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of pa­per ma­te­ri­als. “It’s the an­tithe­sis of dig­i­tal de­sign,” Aubry says. “Some­times you can still smell the ink on the poster when you pick it up.”

Since ar­riv­ing in Nashville in 2012, she has guided Hatch as it moved from its old lo­ca­tion on Broad­way to a new space nearby, next to the Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame and Mu­seum. She helped de­velop an in­for­ma­tive tour that demon­strates the process and shares Hatch’s his­tory. She rails off dates and de­tails like a his­to­rian, eas­ily glid­ing into the story of Hatch’s be­gin­nings. But as her hands ex­pertly set pieces of type, it’s clear that dates and de­tails aren’t the only things that drew her to Hatch. “I knew that if I came to the shop, I wouldn’t be able to leave,” Aubrey says amid shelves of type stacked like old paper­backs. “So I in­ten­tion­ally didn’t visit the shop un­til I knew I was com­ing for a job.”

To­day her team con­tin­ues to pro­duce an ar­ray of posters and ads for busi­nesses and mu­si­cians. Hatch also main­tains an art pro­gram that fea­tures re­strikes of orig­i­nal print blocks that haven’t been used in decades, such as an Airstream ad from the 1940s, along­side new work from na­tional and in­ter­na­tional print­mak­ers.

Tours $18; prints from $8;


Ce­lene Aubry (le ) is man­ager at vet­eran let­ter­press shop Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Ten­nessee. Old posters and mem­o­ra­bilia cover every bit of wall space in the store (be­low).

Clock­wise from top le : mix­ing ink; print­ing posters for Rain, a Bea­tles tribute band; old posters make an in­for­mal gallery of prints through the ages; the li­brary of an­tique type

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