EL PASO – If this border city’s culture could be captured on a T-shirt, the Proper Printshop is probably the place that is printing it.
The spirit of the Sun City is at the heart of the central El Paso shop at 800 Montana where owners J.J. Childress and Alan Hudson embrace the language, the people and the city itself in their designs.
The owners and employees work are also passionate about helping clients transform their own ideas into works of art.
“We don’t want to be the shop that you go into, you have a bad design and they say OK and just print it,” Childress said. “We want to help you improve and shape your artwork.”
The print shop is not only known for creating art, but also promoting El Paso’s unique culture and local art scene.
“Proper has done a great job at being a hub for artists, for embracing them and for building collaborations with other print shops throughout the Southwest and Mexico,” said Marina Monsivasis, organizer of El Paso’s annual Chalk the Block Arts Festival. “They take what they have learned from experts in the field and bring it back to El Paso to share the knowledge with our local artist community.”
The shop specializes in screen printing apparel and posters for businesses, organizations and individuals as well as for special events around the city.
Last year Proper Printshop sponsored the Art En Vivo project, where every week the work of a different artist was featured at a live screen-printing event for the public. The 52 artists were from El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces.
“It wasn’t just us printing, we invited the public to come in and print their own posters, and for people that have never screen-printed before its a really cool thing for them,” Hudson said. “Everybody got involved in making art and it was a fun experience.“
Attending public events like the Chalk the Block festival and a live printing exhibition during the San Jacinto Plaza grand re-opening Downtown are a great way to bring art awareness to the community, Hudson said.
“We had over 45,000 unique interactions with people that normally wouldn’t stumble into a gallery because they feel intimidated,” Hudson said. “They actually got to be a part of the art making process and then also learn about an artist in an art form.”
The print shop also teams up with a number of non-profit organizations through its Shirts for Sharity program.
“We like to give back as much as we can,” Childress said. “We exist in this community and we wouldn’t have a livelihood without it so we feel it’s really important to be able to give back.”
Proper Printshop’s roots go back to 2008 when Childress and a friend, Stephen Escarzega, taught themselves screen printing and realized it could be more than just a hobby.
“We bought a screen printing kit at Hobby Lobby and started printing shirts in our apartment just for fun,” Childress said. “Then we started selling them to bands and small businesses and then we just kept going with it.”
After several years of working with the shop, Escarzega decided to move on in 2014 to pursue other goals. But Childress said he wasn’t ready to stop blasting music in a room that smells like paint while creating art. So he teamed up with Hudson, who owned Recovery Shirts, and they merged their businesses into Proper Printshop.
“They help El Paso grow, and knowing where they started from, it’s a great accomplishment where they are now,” said Xochitl Budde, a teacher at Marian Manor Elementary School and a long time supporter of the print shop’s work.