Shop Feature: Half Hazard Press
Halfhazard Press, located in Down Town Bloomington Illinois, is a screen printing shop, art gallery, clothing store, and more. Self described "Gentlemen & Scoundrels of the Arts," Half Hazard Press is run by Joel Hunt and Christopher Gray. H.H.P. Specializes in hand illustrated advertisements and showcases an impressive repertoire of clients and portfolio.
Half Hazard Press was kind enough to take some time to speak with us about their art, shop, and use of Franmar Products.
Tell us a little bit about your business
Half Hazard Press (HHP) is a grassroots, midwest based print & design studio dedicated to the craft making unique & one-of-a-kind items. Our studio believes in the simple merits of hard work, using your hands, and putting good things out in the world. We specialize in limited edition merchandise for bands and merch distributors for many properties and brands. Early on we got our start making gig-posters with a lot of the local venues, and almost 5 years later, we send out thousands of sheets of posters to major touring bands and music fans alike all over the world. In the last couple of years, we’ve been honored to work with such big properties as: Dave Matthews Band, Dead & Company, Stephen King, Warner Brothers Studios, Sony Pictures, Ram Trucks, State Farm, ESPN Magazine and The Chicago Cubs Franchise.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
There are a lot of great things about running your own business and a lot of stressful things that come hand in hand. It’s a unique opportunity to be in a position where your job is creating wild things for people. We get to make almost anything we can possibly imagine for some of our clients from conceptualizing visual art from a recent album or working with an established local brand to re-ignite and capture new customers with their merchandise. You never quite know who’s going to call or email next and that’s exciting.
What inspires you?
Obviously, a big part of what we do is directly inspired and connected with music. A big part of our approach to many projects is trying to interpret a feeling or a narrative from the artists we work with. Aside from that, we’ve always been very specific about our work feeling like it’s rooted from very relatable ideas you’d see right here in the Midwest. Both owners were born and raised in Central, IL and we’re very proud to be rooted and represent our homeland in the concepts and illustrations we put together.
What do you buy from Franmar, and why?
We’ve been using Franmar since the early days of the studio when we were still working out a 500 sq. ft. basement. When we picked up our first order from Franmar headquarters, we were met with introductions to all the staff and a tour of the facilities, with samples to try for upcoming products as well. It’s nice knowing who you work with and being able to call someone in a pinch and it be handled immediately without any worries.
The simple fact that Franmar is all soy-based product means we don’t have to worry as much about the after effects of cleaning and reclaiming our screens and equipment. Mix in that it is sourced from the huge soy driven community that we grew up in, here in Central IL, it’s an easy decision to support Franmar as an industry standard. We use all Franmar products for our entire reclaiming process, from Ink Removers and Haze Removers to Degreaser, It always works as expected and has a great shelf life to it.
What do you think sets your business apart from other print shops?
There’s a lot of things that set us apart as a studio. Outside of Chicago, we’re the only poster print shop operating at such a high production and commercial client level. We get asked a lot why we didn’t root our business closer to any of the bigger cities around to capture more business, but we’ve always been pretty adamant about being here in Central, IL to show people that you don’t have to live in the bigger cities just to make something happen for yourself or be a part of something cool. Being locals, we know most of our clients on a first name basis, we have drinks and hang out with our customers, and that builds a community around the studio where everyone can feel a part of it, even in a small way.
What is something cool about your business that not a lot of people know about?
Both owners of the studio handle all the visuals and artwork for all the posters and local apparel brand that’s been started in the last year as well. We just built out a new retail/studio space in downtown Bloomington to make ourselves more accessible to the public, and the shop is an open, bar top concept where people can be in at any time and just watch what’s being made in front of them and ask questions. Old print shops like Hatch Show Print in Nashville used to run like this and didn’t separate the customers from the process like some many commercial print shops do today. We like to show how the secret sauce is made, and people appreciate what they’re buying more when they can see how it’s made.