Tuesday, June 23, 2009



On Thursday, June 18, the Ogden's Bradley Sumrall and Richard McCabe visited Yee-Haw Industries in Knoxville, Tennessee. Started in 1996 in a Corbin, Kentucky barn by partners Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley, Yee-Haw is an industrial letterpress and design company now located in a turn-of-the-century Gay Street building in downtown Knoxville. The over-stuffed studio is covered floor to ceiling with examples of their posters, prints, and broadsheets, filled with cards, t-shirts, and some of the funkiest collectibles to be found.

Yee Window and Haw Window, 2009 by Richard McCabe.
The letterpress barn in Corbin was started by Julie and Kevin with antique printing equipment saved from a rusty future, and used to create folk art woodblock prints of country music icons like Hank Williams (last seen alive feet from their current location) and Loretta Lynn, handmade posters of Southern subculture heroes like Cas Walker and Colonel Harlan Sanders. The work turned heads, and before long, the press was commissioned to create album art and promotional posters for contemporary artists including Steve Earle, Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams and Southern Culture on the Skids.

Yee-Haw Interior, 2009 by Richard McCabe
All Yee-Haw prints are hand-set with original or vintage hand-carved wood blocks and type. Some of the earliest letter blocks date from the early eighteenth century. One vintage cabinet in the studio contains the history of Southern pro-wrestling in printer's photo plates. Drying racks are filled with inked paper at various stages of each color's eight-hour drying schedule. This is a real press in high production, full of activity and creativity.

Kevin Bradley in Studio, 2009 by Richard McCabe

Principal Julie Belcher, hailing from Morgantown, West Virginia, is the force behind building the brand. First introduced to the art world when her high school sold Krispy Kreme doughnuts to fund a trip to New York City, Julie went on to serve as art director and designer for Whittle Communications, Seventeen and Blue Note Records. Principal Kevin Bradley studied painting and graphic design before developing the unique Yee-Haw style. Julie lectures at institutions both academic and commercial. Kevin carves most of the original artwork produced by Yee-Haw.

Intern Christian Cox, 2009 by Richard McCabe
Recent Yee-Haw collaborators include Mississippi artist Sean Star Wars, Brooklyn's Cannonball Press, and Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art where they designed and produced a unique line of Dada merchandise for their 2006 Dada exhibition. Yee-Haw was recently commissioned by Jim Flora Art to produce limited edition prints from Flora's original blocks. Flora was an acclaimed and prolific illustrator and designer, best known for his album covers of the 40s and 50s. Of working with this material, Kevin Bradley says, " For us, it's like playing golf with Tiger Woods."
Printing Blocks, 2009 by Richard McCabe
For more on Yee-Haw, visit http://www.yeehawindustries.com/ .

No comments: