“Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms.”
– The Hatch Brothers
Nashville’s Hatch Show Print has been putting ink and block letters to press since 1875. The shop’s success was in its proximity to Nashville’s music scene. The nearby Ryman Auditorium hosted country music acts from all over the region, and through the monstrous WSM AM radio, reached the deep south. In that crucible, the music of Appalachia became the country, western and folk music industries. The founders of the shop, the Hatch brothers, cornered the music poster market. With their old print face, bold ink and screen print images, Hatch created Pre-Warholian icons—catapulting the fame of Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Elvis and everyone in the country music business.
Like all businesses, Hatch fell on hard times in the 70’s and almost disappeared. In 1986, Gaylord company—the reviver of the Grand Old Opry—bought Hatch to use for its promotion of concerts at the new Opry. Soon thereafter, the Hatch was released from its corporate servitude to become part of the non-profit Country Music Hall of Fame. Hatch was restored to a location on Nashville’s Honky-Tonk row, in the shadows of the old Opry—the Ryman.
Hatch represents the ur-graphic of contemporary society’s advertisers. In our app driven, info-graphic sharing, and mad-men advertising inundated age, Hatch offers a nostalgic escape to the beginnings of advertising—simple posters, hand cranked in a manner that hadn’t much changed since Gutenberg invented the process. The toil appeals to the hipster culture—those seeking the authentic, original and local in their cultural delights. Hatch doesn’t disappoint. And one of their best-selling souvenir prints captures the spirit of their craft in the modern world:
Knowing that I only had about an hour between meetings, I wanted to take in as much of Nashville’s Honky-Tonk row as possible—BBQ at Jack’s, peeking in the old Ryman, and seeing what music was wafting from the row of country music bars down Nashville’s Broadway. And there, mid-row, stood Hatch. Having seen the colorful posters all over town—from the airport gate to the hotel lobby—I had to seek out a poster for my own. There is something about those old broadsides, pressed against hand-inked letters with the full force of an old printing press that appeals to your author. The inconsistencies in the ink are welcome, making each iteration unique.
Hatch provides a visual cocktail, drowning my sight with vibrant colors from hundreds of prints on its old brick and wood walls. The shop is fairly simple—reprints of famous posters for the tourist, a modest checkout counter, and a massive print shop to the rear. Tours are offered, but I didn’t have the time. The staff were busy pressing out another round of posters for an upcoming show. So, their assistant came out to greet me.
Huey exudes all of the alpha qualities of the master of the hall. He saunters over to the door to greet customers in that cat way, rubbing past your ankle, marking your khakis with his scent, to let the other cats know: this human’s mine, back off. Huey accepts a petting on his terms. A too assertive stroke is met by his fast-scratching paw.
Of the thousands of choices, and the possibilities for a custom job, I was overwhelmed by what the Germans call “die Qual der Wahl”–the torture of choosing. I could have picked up a fan-boy poster, but only one print seemed to capture the visual buffet of Hatch, and my experience with its true proprietor, manager and CEO.
Huey Photo Credit: By the author, December, 2010.
Luddites Unite Source: message.co.uk blog