Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, I’m Julie Belcher. My partner Kevin Bradley & I started our old school letterpress printmaking studio Yee-Haw Industries, about 12 years ago in my Mom’s back yard. We’ve been kickin’ ass & takin’ names ever since. Now we have a small retail store in the front of our historic downtown Knoxville, Tennessee studio and we let folks wander in to see what we are up to. Our studio is about 6000 square feet and we can do relief printing from postage stamp size up to 4’x10′ on our custom Takach press but we primarily hand print editions on Vandercook proof presses.
My education was in architecture and graphic design from University of Tennessee and I have an MFA in interface design from School of Visual Arts. Before starting Yee-Haw I designed for Seventeen Magazine & Blue Note Records (I actually designed records! and cassettes! and video laser discs!) Kevin studied printmaking, painting & design at UT and says the computer is the devils work.
We have created our own special niche that in turn has become a full time endeavor. Even though there are long hours of labor intensive work, at the end of a productive day, printmaking is still magic and pulling that first print makes me grin like a possum.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I am a mountain gal & I like to play some old time Appalachian string band music, primarily rhythm guitar but I just learned Shortnin’ Bread on the clawhammer banjo. I also like to flatfoot and contra dance. When we were kids we just called it pullin’ weeds but I’ve come to realize growing flowers and vegetables is great therapy. My Farmers’ Market card series is inspired by our local organic Farmers Market, we make a new collectible letterpress poster for them every year.
What first made you want to become an artist?
My Mom was often in front of her pink Singer sewing machine – she made my clothes in the 1960s and early 70s… She would make us matching Mother / Daughter outfits. She even made my Dad a Nehru jacket. West Virginia Mamaw Lula Fay had paintings in her kitchen that I did when I was 4 years old and Kentucky Mamaw Thelma taught me how to crochet when I was in 5th grade. It was always a creative atmosphere in our house growing up… embroidery, needlepoint, dancing, painting, cooking, latchhook, Dad always had a camera in hand and a darkroom in the basement. My sisters and I made party clothes for our Barbies – I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t making something.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Kevin says we’ve created a monster & we just grab hold of the tail & hang on.
We loooooove typography & have a huge heavy collection of it – all in lead and wood. Kevin & I don’t get much time to go out collecting equipment any more but we have salvaged thousands of pounds of old scrapped presses, saws, printmaking tools and type and saved it from the junkyard. We started on day 1 using 100% pc-recycled papers in our poster work and have continued our high-quality, hand printed, art-like products on recycled papers. We hand carve our original illustration in wood block and lino cut, hand typeset with antique fonts, we use vintage letterpress traditional borders and “cuts” in our work as well as new imagery that we create ourselves & sometimes we collaborate with others.
Kevin & I have a host of great artists coming through Yee-Haw and some stick around for years. We established an internship program in 1999 and have taught close to 100 interns this dying art and several of our students have become full time Yee-Haw printmakers. We collaborate on prints and products with visiting artists like Mountain Dew aficionado Mr. Sean Starwars and Norweigian Hillbilly Mr. Bjorn Lie. Current dream team includes our long time colleague Adam Ewing (Memphis TN) along with newcomers Sarah Shebaro and BJ Alumbaugh (both from Iowa) are the glue that holds it together.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
The collection is always growing…. Several years ago I met a wonderful Alabama artist named Buddy Snipes & he displayed his cut outs of painted tin and twigs up in the trees. My current fav is “Monkey”.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
I mostly look at picture books like
The Most Special Day of My Life Art of the Clayton Bros,
The Circus is all photos and posters from the heyday of the Circus
Old moldy typography and letterpress ornamentation books that we collect.
New Orleans After the Flood Photos by Robert Polidori
but for words
Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk also a good movie
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, words by James Agee with pix by Walker Evans
Matewan by John Sayles with Will Oldham as the preacher boy, great soundtrack too
Dad took us kids to see Star Wars in 1977. We sat on the front row.
Crumb by Terry Zwigoff
John Waters – gotta love Mink Stole
all Coen Bros movies are fantastic
Street of Crocodiles by Brothers Quay great stop action animated filmmaking
Brenton Wood’s “Gimme Little Sign” is just about the best dance song ever
Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers and other old time fiddle tunesters
The Staple Singers
all music of New Orleans from Ernie K. Doe to Mr. Quintron & Miss Pussycat and everything in between
Duet singing: George Jones & Melba Montgomery, Hazel & Alice, Louvin Bros., Marvin & Tammi
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Keep your work original & be confident in what you do. Make something everyday… as far as the selling part goes – communication & professionalism are key to pleasant transactions.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I like Time Machine 2 – I just keep scrolling until something catches my eye. I love the option of putting several photos for each item. Etsy is so easy to use as a buyer and as a seller, it makes my online life easier. I’d love a separate Etsy e-commerce store that I can use for my wholesale business…
How do you promote your work?
We put our contact info on everything we make and that helps folks find us. We get out of the studio and show our wares at conferences, festivals, galleries and even had a museum show at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2006. Kevin, Adam & I also give lectures and teach workshops at craft schools and printmaking facilities around the country.
In ten years I’d like to be…
have more leisure time for music and travel. Within the next few years I’d like to hike the Appalachian Trail if Kev will go with me.