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From Panhead Harleys to Process Color: The Story Behind Anderson Studio

(January 2008) posted on Tue Jan 22, 2008

What happened when a passion for art, music, and motorcycles collided with an interest in screen printing? Anderson Studio was born. Learn about the shop's history and how it became known around the world for its garment work.

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By Ben P. Rosenfield

“I did several jobs like that, including one for the Allman Brothers. A friend of mine, who did the sound system for them, needed some special shirts done just for the Allman Brothers. This was probably 1972. I did a split fountain of their mushroom with a black outline around it (Figure 2). But I didn’t have shirts to screw up, because he had already given me these football-type jerseys with their names already stitched on the back. So I had to do these right. Some were a little questionable by today’s standards, but for the most part they liked them and used them. That was my introduction to screen printing.”

Tools specifically for prepress, printing, and curing were unheard of in Anderson’s workshop, which meant everything was done by hand (Figure 3) and measured visually. If a printed garment could sell, it was hung to dry on a clothesline. Turnaround times didn’t really exist in Anderson’s world, yet he managed to earn enough income from screen printing, as well as his other artistic endeavors, that he decided not to pursue agency work. Instead, he opened Anderson Studio in Nashville, TN.

I opened Anderson Studio in 1976,” he says. “I started doing airbrushing, illustration, custom painting, and design. That sort of petered out in 1978, and I was looking for other areas to diversify the artwork into. I had done some work for a guy who actually did the management for Kenny Rogers. Using proper equipment— a manual press and a dryer—I out you could make money doing this. It was fairly productive with this new equipment, rather than stretching on Coke cases.”


Setting the course

Thirty years ago marked the purchase of Anderson’s first pieces of screenprinting equipment: a Hopkins manual press and a dryer. He used photostencils produced by a local bureau to make his screens. All of these upgrades made a notable improvement in Anderson Studio’s garment prints—enough so that the next visit from Kenny Rogers’ organization, which took place in the early 1980s, would make Anderson Studio a bona fide presence in garment screen printing.


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