There’s nothing like being in exile from the South to make your appreciation for it burn all the stronger. It’s a feeling I’ve known all too well. Micah and Marianna Whitson know it, too, from way up in Yankeeland. A longing for the Southern soil, and the precipitating event of the Alabama tornados of 2011, prompted the couple to apply their graphic design chops to honor their homeland with Southern themed wall art.
Old Try has exploded onto the Southern scene over the past eighteen months. With prints specific to each Southern state, in addition to those suitable for every proud Southerner, the designs play on insider knowledge, a clever sense of humor and an appreciation for the letterpress broadsides of yore.
Micah grew up just down the road in Athens, Alabama, and was influenced heavily by the legendary Hatch Show Prints of Nashville. “Seeing prints for trade shows and rodeos and concerts up in Nashville has been a part of my life forever. I’d done some work years back for Whitt’s Barbecue (in Decatur) where I took an alphabet and broke it apart, and even though I was working digitally, I manually hand set all the type.”
Marianna hails from Raleigh, North Carolina, and is a product of second generation Greek immigrants and a family with roots deep in Southern soil. After graduating from North Carolina, she met Micah at the ad agency where she worked in Durham: “I’d been there a while when we were introduced on Micah’s first day. As he puts it, we started dating before he could establish a ‘no dating at work’ policy.”
Active in their church–Reunion–Micah tells me, “We’re to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To be the good in the world. To use our lives and our jobs and the business we operate and the manner in which we interact with people as a way to bring glory and honor to God.” As a manifestation of that, Old Try is now selling specially designed Christmas cards with proceeds going toward clean water in developing countries. (You’ll also find the website closed on Sundays if you happen to swing by on the first day of the week.)
Recently Old Try has expanded into Southern theme t-shirts featuring both states and Southern regions. I have the “Bluegrass” and “Appalachia” shirts on my Christmas list (hint, hint). And a recent teaser pic linked on Twitter indicates Old Try bow ties will be coming soon.
But frameable prints are Old Try’s bread and butter. And it’s hard to know what to choose from the growing Old Try archive. From a standby like their manners print (“Yes Ma’am/No Ma’am”) to the recent “Dixie” print offered by Garden & Gun, I’d have to think if you can’t find at least one (or three) you want on your wall then you might not be from the South.
[In case you missed it, read this earlier post about Old Try featuring one of my letterpress broadsides on their blog.]