Chris Lewellyn has worked with bands for almost 20 years, be it selling merch at shows, screenprinting posters, creating T-shirt designs or silk-screening said designs on apparel. But in the past year, he's used this experience to create a hub for local musicians and artists at the corner of Elm Street and Carroll Avenue.
Lewellyn's Print Shop, which employs punk musicians Hunter Moehring of Sealion and Taylor Smith of Loafers, also designs posters, album covers and even websites for its clients. The shop has worked with local acts including Sealion, Party Static and From Parts Unknown; neighboring venues Three Links and Double Wide; and even national acts such as the Toadies, Superjoint Ritual and Hank Williams III.
"The customers have developed what we do," Lewellyn says, adding that another big part of their business is outside the music industry, with Live Love Gameday. The local boutique, started by former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Sydney Blaine, makes up nearly 50 percent of their orders. They also stay busy contract printing for a handful of other screenprinters.
The shop is located between Deep Ellum and East Dallas, an area that is welcoming to both visual and musical artists. It's next door to It'll Do Club and Bishop Manor Annex rehearsal space, where Sealion and Loafers rehearse. Lewellyn works to accommodate his employees' schedules so they're able to rehearse, play local shows and tour regularly.
"My whole philosophy in life is, try to help people figure out a way to make a living, to do the thing they want to do," Lewellyn says. "Whether it was to play music or do art."
Lewellyn's background in music has influenced this approach. He played drums in a few bands before he left to intern at the record label Last Beat. His foray into the merch business came when the Reverend Horton Heat asked him if he would sell theirs, a position he held for 10 years. He taught himself how to screenprint during that time, and eventually came to work in a print shop with Hunter Moehring. When Lewellyn decided to start his own shop, Moehring came on board.
The small shop has been able to manage a high volume of orders because while each employee brings their own expertise, they all know how to do every job in the shop, including screenprinting. Moehring also attributes their success to a good reputation in the neighborhood.
"If you're cool and you take care of people in Deep Ellum, people in Deep Ellum really take care of you," he says.
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And the shop is poised to get another boost soon thanks to the world of reality TV. Lewellyn's Print Shop will be featured on an episode of A&E's Little Funny, set to arrive this spring. The show follows the life of local 12-year-old comedian Saffron Herndon, who is one of Lewellyn's clients.
But even though his shop is getting more attention, Lewellyn is constantly brainstorming how to improve it and ensure it can sustain the artist family he's created.
"We've kind of steered away from being customer-based to be more of a niche, a better printer," he says. "It's getting to where everyone can live off it. [But] the kids have made huge sacrifices just to keep this going. If it wasn't for them, our landlord and my parents, none of this would exist."
Lewellyn's Print Shop, 4420 Elm St., lewellynsprintshop.com