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From the PublisherThis is a book about Elvis and Jack Daniels. It is a tale of roadside circuses and itinerant minstrels, country music and rock 'n' roll. It is a fascinating story about rebirth and resurrection in the Deep South--of how a 100-year-old Nashville, Tennessee, poster shop struggled through hard times to become a modern-day design sensation.
Throughout the 1920s and '30s, Hatch Show Print's colorful broadsides and posters were a ubiquitous roadside attraction throughout the southeastern United States. The shop's advertisements for baseball games, concerts, carnivals and other small town events were pasted prominently on everything from barns to brick walls and hung conspicuously in storefronts, bars and theater windows.
Hatch Show Print could trace its origins back to Reverend William T. Hatch, a minister and northern businessman who moved to Nashville in 1875 with the hopeof cashing in on the city's thriving print industry. Hatch entered into business as a publisher, and following his death in 1879 the Reverend's two sons took over the family business. Work was steady and by the turn of the century the shop began producing numerous broadsides--show posters--for plays, theater groups and vaudeville acts.
In 1921, Will T. Hatch continued the family tradition. He often carved large, multicolor printing blocks by hand and this distinct style set Hatch's posters apart from other posters commonly designed only with commercial type. Will Hatch's timing was fortuitous--radio was a growing presence in America and the careers of entertainers that toured the South relied heavily on posters to spread the work. The buisness continued to grow and by the 1950s, the bulk of the shop's work was commissioned by Nashville's booming country music scene. Hatch produced posters for the likes of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and even an upstart Elvis Presley.
Fast-forward to the early-1980s. Increased competition, poor management and inexpensive offset printing threatened to put the letterpress shop out of business. Recognizing Hatch's unique history, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry stepped in to acquire the shop in 1986. To compete with desktop technology and the clean look of digital type, Hatch's posters began to emphasize the tactile qualtiy fo handset wood type, drawing upon their historical collection of battered typefaces and hand-carved printing blocks. Their rough-hewn design style was immediately recognized as unique--and authentic. Under the directorship of Jim Sherraden, the shop slowly rebuilt its business and in its current incarnation, Hatch Show Print enjoys widespread acclaim. The shop produces award-winning work for major music labels, book publishers and advertising agencies. They also print posters for an increasingly eclectic group of musicians ranging from REM to The Wailers, to Jewel. But despite their success, Hatch Show remains surprisingly accessible. In addition to the high-visibility projects, Hatch Show continues to take on the proletarian--the small clients and struggling bands that literally walk in off the street.
This book reconstructs the shop's 130-year-old past, but cleverly avoids getting buried in nostalgia. It covers a diverse range of topics, from technical information about letter-press printing to Hatch's role in musical, cultural and design history, and also includes plenty of reproductions of posters that will make the typographer and designer's mouth water. The book is well-designed and well-photographed, and typical of Hatch's quirky, clever design style, the dust jacket of the book folds out into a full-size poster. The poster provides a nice sense of scale and helps give more meaning to the smaller reproductions in the book.
Today Hatch Show Print is a working museum, its walls lined with an archive of oversized wooden letters and hand-cut engravings, and restrikes of historical posters. Their shop attracts tourists, visitors and the occasional graphic designer, many of whom make the pilgr