If you’ve visited Nashville, you’ve probably seen a Hatch Show Print, even if you didn’t realize it. Their posters have become iconic, thanks to their 136-year-long residency in the heart of the Music City.
Brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch first opened the shop in 1879 in downtown Nashville. Their unique style of printing with expertly crafted hand-carved wooden blocks led them to success, even through the Great Depression. The shop just happened to be located directly behind the Ryman Auditorium, which made it an easy choice for performers looking to get quick and creative advertising.
Over the years, the shop has created posters for performers on the Grand Ole Opry, as well as local businesses, circuses and minstrel shows. Some of their most recognizable prints feature artists from all genres, including Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and Bruce Springsteen.
Today, Hatch Show Print makes a special edition print for almost every show that is held at the Ryman. If there are multiple nights of shows, designers will often create a series of posters that somehow connect visually so they can be displayed as one large art piece. Concertgoers are known to line up outside of the Ryman hours before the venue opens in order to secure their limited edition print.
So why are people so excited about these posters? There are only a handful of print shops still in business that have kept using the old-school manual letterpress style. Each poster is created in the same way, with the same tools, as they were when the shop first opened. Inside the shop, an entire wall is covered with shelves full of wood-block designs that were hand carved by the Hatch brothers themselves. Because the letters are so old, they’ve been distressed with marks and creases that show up when they are covered and ink and pressed to paper. This gives them the unique look and character that has made Hatch Show Prints such coveted and recognizable items.
The Hatch Show Print headquarters is now located beside the Country Music Hall of Fame and uses the same layout as Charles and Herbert Hatch’s original shop. The main printing area is surrounded by glass, so visitors can watch the artists as they create each poster by hand. The shop prints anywhere from 500 to 600 poster designs per year, and has become a top destination for tourists. If you get the chance to visit the Hatch Print Shop, be sure to take a tour and get up close and personal with a piece of Nashville history.