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Pressing On World Premiere: A Celebration Of Letterpress Printing

June 21, 2017
Memorial Day weekend 2017 was the best sort of family reunion at Hatch Show Print. The world premiere of Pressing On: The Letterpress Film, was just the keystone event we needed to build a solid day of serious fun here in Nashville.The film was made by Erin Beckloff and the team at Bayonet Media, including Erin’s co-director, Andrew Quinn; producer Kevin Grazioli; and director of photography Joe Vella. The movie grew out of Erin’s master’s degree thesis, and is a beautifully captured and heartening look into how letterpress printing has survived its near-demise as a commercial print process.

Working up to the premiere, we offered a day’s worth of fun in Nashville. The morning kicked off with a free, family-friendly drop-in program, where some of our experienced printers who were supposed to be ”on vacation” actually shared their expertise with visitors.

While the education staff, designer-printers and summer interns coordinated a five-ring circus in the production shop that was well attended by many of our out-of-state visitors, our compadres in inkiness, Sawtooth Print Shop and Isle of Printing, opened their shops to welcome visitors and show off the wonderful work they make, as well as other projects they are currently involved in.

Panel: Preservation Through Production, Seduction, And Education (2017)

Presentation: The History Of Hatch Show Print (2017)

The afternoon’s history of Hatch Show Print presentation and panel discussion featuring fellow practitioners of letterpress printing were well attended and showed off the varied ways that letterpress printing thrives in the twenty-first century. The panel included Katherine Fries and David Wolske, college professors teaching letterpress printing and leveraging letterpress printing in their artistic practices; Tammy and Adam Winn, a duo of letterpress printers who are building a community shop, saving and restoring presses and equipment, and making and selling work, all while maintaining full-time jobs in other fields; Brad Vetter, a full-time freelance designer, whose work is based in letterpress printing; and Mary Sullivan, a full-time artist. It was a warm and lighthearted exchange of ideas that offered tips to those interested in getting involved in letterpress printing in their communities.

In between, attendees visited the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, as well as other sites and attractions around the city, to eat and take advantage of the best the city has available. They were also able to check out the work of over 50 fellow letterpress printers and artists who are participating in the month-long show in the Haley Gallery, Pressing On: A Celebratory Exhibition.

The film premiere concluded the day’s events, but what is a world premiere without a celebration? A cocktail party (complete with red carpet and a photographer) opened the evening, and the screening included popcorn, an animated short, and a Q&A session with the filmmakers.

The party did not end right away; an after-party just down the hall from the print shop went till the wee hours (and we hear some folks went out for early breakfast, in the wee wee hours). We concluded Sunday with a casual ”open gate” in the shop, to share some of the work of Tribune Showprint, a 139-year-old letterpress poster shop that operates out of Muncie, Indiana. Kim and Rob Miller, the shop’s owners for the last year, shared some of the early work they’ve discovered in their shop’s collection (that put Tribune Showprint on the map in the early twentieth century, and that they are planning to incorporate back into the shop’s practice), as they map and catalog the shop’s history and holdings.

What a night! What a weekend! We are honored to have been able to host this fabulous film, and so pleased that visitors traveled from far and wide to be here with us to celebrate this ridiculously outmoded technology called letterpress printing. We look forward to carrying on the tradition of an annual “family reunion” for years to come, too.

If you are interested in hosting a screening Pressing On: The Letterpress Film, contact the filmmakers.

Long live letterpress!

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