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UTEP grad keeps printmaking alive

Claudia Hernandez
A Proper Print Shop employee helps a visitor make a print at Mighty Mujer Triathalon event.

As an emerging community, the art scene in El Paso needs all the passion and fervor it can get. Located at 800 Montana Ave., Proper Printshop heeds the call to provide for those eager to share their ideas in the border community.

Proper Printshop serves as a venue and local art space that fosters El Paso’s surging movements and provides retail space as well.

The shop started five years ago at a UTEP dorm.

“Screen printing was always a side hobby that turned into its own business, much to the dismay of our rent deposit because it is a messy process.” said Jonathan Childress, founder and UTEP grad.

Originally Childress had two other business partners, Stephen Escarzaga and Mark Martinez.

“We loved printing shirts. Stephen printed shirts for his band and it just (went) from there,” said Childress.

However, as the brand grew, the line between hobby and viability as a source of income thinned for some of the original founders.

“My two other business partners had grown up. They got married, had kids, and being a broke artist wasn’t for them, so they left,” said Childress.

It was then that Childress decided to merge with fellow screen-printing venture, Recovery Shirts, owned by Alan Hodson.

“We merged about two and a half years ago. We felt it was a good fit between Alan and myself, and it has grown from there,” said Childress.

The stability has allowed Proper Printshop to develop into a space for anyone in the community to express themselves and grow as artists.

“We try to give back to the community as much as we can; offering a space for movements to happen, promoting nonprofits through our program ‘Shirts For Charity,’ where we give the nonprofit a design and help them raise funds,” said Childress.

Another project that has made strides in showcasing local talent is “Art En Vivo,” a yearlong project that featured 52 different artists. The project was accessible, with the cost of the paper being the only expense artists had to worry about.

“We live printed their work every Thursday and put around $15,000 in artists’ pockets,” said Childress.

Creative endeavors like “Art En Vivo” not only benefit the artist, but they also engineer a market for collectors in a growing cultural space like the Sun City.

“There isn’t a huge private collector market here, but it is starting to build up with a lot of beginning collectors, and we are happy to help out with that,” said Childress.

With Proper Printshop being the current product of a merger, Childress considers the rise of other art spaces such as Power At The Pass nurturing to the El Paso community.

“You need somewhat of a concentration, collaborations to improve the density of those creative spaces,” said Childress.

As part of their multifaceted approach to art, another one of Proper’s side projects is a vegan cooking class happening the first Sunday of every month

Looking toward the future, ownership plans to expand the retail space by opening a boutique inside the current art space building, while also expanding on projects such as “Art En Vivo.”

“We want to be able to retail some of our designs, as well as developing artist collections to help them merchandise and retail for themselves,” said Childress.

For more information and business opportunities, Proper Printshop can be reached at or call (915)887-8351.

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Eddie Velazquez, Entertainment Editor
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UTEP grad keeps printmaking alive