The Three Thieves have collaborated with a true American icon, Nashville’s Hatch Show Print. Hatch Show Print is an old-school letterpress print shop located in Nashville, Tennessee that has been making “show posters” for entertainers of all stripes—from country musicians to magicians, professional wrestlers to rockstars—since 1879. Owned and operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum since 1992, Hatch is still an active business and continues to print and design posters that are distinctive  and eye-catching.

Will T. Hatch, the original owner of Hatch Show Print, was a determined businessman as well as a gifted carver of woodblocks. His handiwork reveals an obvious passion for creating bold, colorful posters encompassing the entire spectrum of southern entertainment. The timing of his career was impeccable. In the 1920s, even though radio was rapidly becoming commonplace in American life and thus an outlet for advertisers, posters played a huge role in the careers of touring entertainers. Show people were always on the go and posters were often the only means by which they could advertise effectively in small-town America. Additionally, Hatch’s proximity to, and traditional association with, the Nashville entertainment scene has allowed it to create posters for such entertainment legends as Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, and many others.

With modern technology rapidly encroaching on older printing techniques, Hatch Show Print distinguishes itself through its fidelity to the craft of letterpress printing. This process involves pressing raised, inked surfaces (usually made of wood, metal, or linoleum) onto paper. A typical poster at Hatch is still created the way it was in the late nineteenth century at the shop. Design carved on basswood or maple blocks are combined with movable wooden or metal letters (“type”). All of these visual elements are locked down into a frame, positioned like a mirror image—upside down and backwards. The entire frame is then inked with rollers and paper is pressed across it to obtain a right-side-up impression. Posters with more than one color require separate woodblocks or type for each color, and each application of additional color requires a new pass through the press.

Though letterpress printing is hopelessly archaic and outmoded when measured by standards of modern mechanized and computerized efficiency, it has managed, against all odds, to survive at Hatch Show Print in Nashville. Undoubtedly, the reason for its survival is that in the Hatch shop letterpress printing has been elevated to a high art, thanks to the devoted craftsmanship of many talented individuals. Its modern designs—concert posters, cover art, billboard ads, annual reports, stationary, and monoprints—are an engaging fusion of old and new that keeps the work ever evolving. Some of Hatch’s more recent clients include Jewel, Dave Matthews Band, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys. Hatch Show Print’s proud history and colorful designs have been a staple of the American entertainment landscape for more than 125 years. One thing for sure is that if you wanted to fill seats, Hatch got the job done. For more information about Hatch Show Print visit www.hatchshowprint.com.

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