“Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms.” — The Hatch Brothers
One of the oldest letterpress print shops in America got its start when the Hatch brothers founded Nashville’s Hatch Show Print in 1879. Originally known as CR and HH Hatch, the company made its first handbill for the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, nailing what has become the company’s trademark style from the outset. Their work has always been renowned for its balanced use of type, masterful composition, and well-chosen graphics.
Hatch Show Print’s early “glory days” coincided with the golden age of Nashville’s country music scene. Though it certainly didn’t hurt that from 1925 until 1992, the shop was located directly behind the Ryman Auditorium, aka “the Mother Church of Country Music,” much of Hatch’s reputation during this period was built upon the shoulders of Will T. Hatch (son of co-founder Charles). Using his skills as a master woodblock carver, some of the most memorable posters for America’s biggest music stars were produced either by his hand, or under his artistic direction.
Though bills featuring country icons like Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, and Emmylou Harris may be what first comes to mind, Hatch never played favorites. The shop has produced work for the likes of B.B. King, Etta James, Bruce Springsteen, and Duke Ellington, only to have the posters become sought-after collector’s items. Moreover, during the “lean years” when offset printing briefly blinded the public to the value of such labors of love, Hatch maintained its business and a reputation of approachability by embracing everyone who came through the door, whether they be pro-wrestlers, owners of a grocery store, or Louis Armstrong. What resulted was a delightful paper trail of American history unlike any other.
In 2013, the shop was relocated part-and-parcel to the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame, where it manages to retains its original air of independence-soaked history. Hatch remains a fully-functioning print shop, lovingly crafting over 150,000 posters each year in their own distinct aesthetic.
Tours of the studio are offered seven days a week, drawing together poster nerds, music geeks, history buffs, and art freaks all eager to see the next iconic print roll off the presses.
Know Before You Go
Hatch Show Print is located in the 5th Avenue lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.