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Monthly ArchiveJune 2014

Studio projects Monday June 30 2014 12:43 pm

Hanging the British Library exhibition

Our British Library friend, Matthew Shaw, sent some photos of the start to the hanging of the exhibition of 24 of the poster sheets from our 2012 & 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti clamshell box editions. How exciting is that?

Bill Deering, Ray’s former teaching colleague, is in London on a 5-week London study abroad program with a group of about 20 design seniors from the Visual Communications Group at the University of Delaware. Jill and I co-directed the trip with Bill from 2001 - 2005.

We’ve issued a challenge for Bill to pass along to the students that we hope at least a couple take us up on. We’ve offered a collaboration to work with us on one of the Tour de Lead Graffiti 2014 posters with one or more of the students who provide us with the best ’selfie’ of them with some element of the exhibition.

We’ll see what happens, but it would be great to get a couple interpretive shots.

A couple possibilities that come to mind. 1) One student in front of each holding their camera as if they are going to shoot a selfie and then someone else actually shooting a selfie with the other selfies in the background. 2) The students talk the British Library into letting each of them bring a bicycle into the exhibition and photograph the bike taking a selfie. I’ll bet no one ever in the history of the British Library has ever been allowed to bring a bicycle into the building. I wonder who you would have to talk to get that permission? 3) The students looking like they are a peloton moving by the exhibition but all taking selfies at the same time. Now wouldn’t it be cool if the person taking the bigger photo could do a bit of a timed photo (maybe 1 second exposure) and all of the other students could flash their camera during that 1 second so everyone seemed to be flashing simultaneously. 4) All of the students shooting a simultaneous selfie but with Michael Johnson (one of my most favorite British designers) in front. That give me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Oh, well. Just a few ideas off the top of my head.

British Library Tour de Lead Graffiti exhibition July 2014

Studio projects & Tour de Lead Graffiti 2014 Sunday June 29 2014 12:23 pm

Some Tour de France facts

With The Tour de France only a week away, the English city of Leeds is gearing up for the Grand Départ on July 5. The race is a small city on wheels, complete with everything from doctors to police officers. Here are a few notable numbers provided by the Amaury Sport Organisation in advance of the Tour.

The race
198 riders
22 teams
300 support staff

The route
21 stages
4 countries visited (the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Spain)
662 municipalities visited (611 in France, 39 in the United Kingdom, 9 in Belgium, 3 in Spain)

Publicity caravan
170 vehicles
600 people

Spectators on the roadside (in 2013)
12 million spectators
38 different nationalities identified
Six and a half hours of presence on average on the roadside

100 permanent Amaury Sport Organisation staff
280 temporary staff
1,450 beds reserved every day for the organizers and teams

Medical service
10 emergency doctors, 1 anaesthetist nurse
6 ambulances, 2 medical emergency cars, 1 bike, 1 X-ray truck

47 republican guard motorcycle police officers
13 police officers in the permanent police commission on the Tour
14,000 gendarmes and 9,000 police officers and CRS riot police mobilized

TV broadcasting
Broadcast in 190 countries
90 hours of live programs
3.5 billion viewers worldwide (in 2013)

Studio projects & Tour de Lead Graffiti 2014 & inventory / important type Friday June 27 2014 01:15 pm

Display typefaces for Tour de Lead Graffiti 2014

Each of the three years we’ve been doing our Tour de Lead Graffiti project we’ve used a different set of two main typefaces. Forcing these typefaces onto the series of 23 posters provides both an element of continuity as well as giving us something to play with.

We don’t give much through to how well the two typefaces work together, but rather just two typefaces that might be fun to use together. This year we are making Neuland (top) into wood type and Jefferson Gothic (bottom) into copperplates.

We have both typefaces as part of our metal type collection (Neuland in 24, 36 & 48 point and the Jefferson Gothic in 60 & 72 point) and we regularly use them.

Each year we do some typographic element to represent ‘riders.’ This year we created the >> in Jefferson Gothic for this purpose. We had 24 of them made. We thought they might look good to represent the peloton when it is stretched single-file or maybe just piled on each other for a major crash.

. . .

Below are two pieces using our metal type versions of the typefaces.

Neuland was used as the outside border for a certificate requested by a former student of Ray’s to remember a friend with a strong interest in typography who used to say “explore every possibility.” We would set one side of the border and then print it four times, rotating the square piece of paper 90° each time. The next time we would move the first word to the third word so that the quote would continue to wrap around the certificate. The layers were printed in red, yellow, & blue. We printed the darker blue on top to help the type read.

This poster uses both of the typefaces. The Jefferson Gothic is quite condensed which is a type quality we’ve really come to enjoy using in our work.

Handsetting metal type rules

Both display faces are always made into 12 line (12 picas or 2 inches) utilizing only the uppercase letters. That makes them large enough to take up some visual real estate, but not so big as to discourage too many compositional options.

The Neuland wood type is cut out with a CNC router using an Illustrator file we made from a scan of the original typeface from a 1932 type catalog. The image below shows us in the process of routing the typeface.

routing Neuland wood type

The Jefferson Gothic is from our metal type, also using some different letter variations we have in a typeface called Phoenix. We’ll see how they work out. Because the Jefferson Gothic is so condensed the router bit wouldn’t do a very good job of cutting into those arrow inside corners and the copperplate version avoids that problem.

For anyone that is wondering the cost, the copperplates was $415 and the wood type was essentially $250 for the wood (made by a Pennsylvania woodworker out of random pieces of endgrain rock maple and $200 for the routing from a nearby sign shop. We actually did the routing work ourselves and just paid to rent the machine because we wanted to understand all of the details to help us with making more wood type in the future. Both typefaces were made with essentially the 3A fonting scheme. For non-letterpress pieces that means “A=3, B=2, C=2, D=2, E=4 and so on. We also cut most all of the accents

honors, awards, media & news Thursday June 26 2014 11:07 pm

WHYY-TV show

You can watch the segment WHYY-TV produced on Lead Graffiti below. It was shown June 20, 2014.

Studio projects & honors, awards, media & news Friday June 20 2014 11:36 am

British Library exhibition poster listing

The British Library exhibition in London will show posters from the 2013 and 2012 editions of our Tour de Lead Graffiti project. They are including 9 of the stage posters plus the title page, descriptive page, and the composite print. The British Library, who were early purchasers of our 2011 edition are one of only a few that have all three composites as we did it more for a test the first year.

The Tour de France starts in England this year with the third stage ending in London.

It would be so much fun to be in London for both the Tour and the exhibition, but there is no way to do this year’s edition of the project and be here and there. We chose here.

Here are the posters from the 2013 edition. The 2013 Tour de France was won by British rider Chris Froome.

Here are the posters from the 2012 edition. The 2012 Tour de France was won by British rider Bradley Wiggins.

In addition The British Library has decided to put together an exhibition of the poster images in the new display area of their Boston Spa Reading Room in Yorkshire. This is quite close to where this year’s Tour de France will start.

Studio projects & honors, awards, media & news Wednesday June 18 2014 02:21 pm

BL, f1rst, TdLG + …


An exhibition of 20 posters from our 2012 and 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti editions opens at The British Library opens on July 3. The exhibition will run through November. The Tour de France this year has the first 2 stages in England. An interesting element to the exhibition is that Bill Deering has his Visual Communications study abroad group in England at the moment and they are going to see the exhibition on the 7th. So they will go to England and see an exhibition of a place they’ve visited here in Newark, Delaware.

We are offering a collaboration to work with us on one of the posters once they’ve returned to the U.S.  to the student that sends us the best ’selfie’ taken at the exhibition. That should be kind of fun.

. . . WHYY

WHYY, the PBS station here, has produced a 3-minute film on Lead Graffiti and it is being shown for the first time on Friday, June 20 at 5:30 pm and 11:00 pm. The show is called “f1rst”. It will also air over the weekend and then again on Monday the 23rd. After that it will be viewable online.

The film crew scheduled to come in for 3 hours ended up staying for more than 6. There is a lot of stuff to shoot in our studio and they seemed to want to shoot it all. It will be interesting to see how 6 hours compresses into 3 minutes.

. . . TOUR de LEAD GRAFFITI 2014

We are 18 days from the start of our 4th annual Tour de Lead Graffiti. We follow the Tour de France live on TV each morning and translate the day’s events into a poster printed via letterpress. We have collaborators scheduled for about half of the days. You can see our daily schedule by clicking here. The Tour runs through July 27. It is about a 15 hour day for 23 consecutive days. We call it “endurance letterpress.”

We just finished printing the signature blocks on approximately 1200 sheets of paper which will be used for the posters. As they do in the Tour de France the opening moment of each stage is the riders signing in to ride. We do the same thing as our first act once we get to the studio by signing the 45 sheets we start with for each poster.

The final outcome of our printing is a clamshell box holding the 23 posters, a title page, a descriptive page, a project colophon, and a composite print which has EVERY run for EVERY poster overprinted onto a single sheet. Collaborators each get two copies of the the poster from their day and we usually have an additional 10 or so that we sell and sometimes giveaway to deserving letterpress devotees.

We are starting production of this year’s wood type which will help provide continuity across so many posters. This year’s type is going to be Neuland and Jefferson Gothic. We always make two typefaces for each year. The type will be 2″ high. It will be interesting with the Neuland as it is a fairly wide typeface.


Middlebury, Vermont held its first annual Gran Fondo cycling event and helped promote the day with an month-long exhibition of our 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti posters. We designed an interesting hanging system for the exhibition which we plan on using for future exhibitions. More on that later.

Studio projects Monday June 09 2014 02:53 pm

“Ripple” afternoon diversion

The Newark Arts Alliance is a great group supporting art in the Newark, Delaware area. They recently held an auction asking if any of the local artists would contribute a tour of their studio. We jumped on it and even said they could offer two.

Rebecca won one for her husband Jordon who is getting ready to take a class at the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. A bit of understanding of how letterpress works would help his preliminary research for the class.

We didn’t have anything planned, but just waited until we met them and then depending on how cool they were we would build an experience around it. They were cool and we jumped on wanting to make their time a real experience.

We asked Jordan for a quote. “Ripple in still water” from a Grateful Dead song named ‘Ripple” was his pretty quick response.

We like printing via letterpress without a net. So Ray fired back, “Let’s set the quote as a ripple with nothing straight.” In letterpress this is a fairly difficult way to jump into the type where the letters generally want to be locked in side-by-side.

Below is an image of Rebecca, Jordan and Ray working on the lockup. The following image the whole lockup set beside the poster. You can click on the image to see it double-sized.

Jill walked over after we had printed one copy and said, “You should do a work-and-turn.” We tried it, liked it, and printed them all with the double image. We printed about 30 copies and gave the couple 15 of the copies. Jordan is a PhD student and we hope his involvement with us might help us connect with the University of Delaware’s English Department.

A completely fun 7 hours with a nice restful dinner of pizza thrown in for good measure.

Studio projects Monday June 09 2014 01:45 pm

AIGA / Philadelphia Feedback raffle

At the annual AIGA / Philadelphia Feedback Ray was one of the invited portfolio reviewers. We offered a Lead Graffiti Creative Letterpress workshop as a raffle prize. We had 7 design students from 4 different schools. It is nice to get students from different schools working creatively in the same space. The end result is a 14-page hard cover ‘meander’ book which is wrapped in Lead Graffiti paste paper.

We start with the line, “Once upon a time…” and then they finish it. Each participant picks an initial cap that is printed pretty quickly in the first color. Then they build the rest of their typography around its placement.

Below is the lockup for the second color and the 2-color broadside which forms the text block. In the broadside the top and third row have been rotated so all of the pages are oriented the same.

This image is 512 pixels wide. For more detail click on the image to see the image 1000 pixels across.

Capital One 360 Creative Letterpress workshop

We asked the students to make the text somehow refer to the moment of graduating from their undergraduate education

The lines from upper left to lower right:

Title page: Once again from AIGA Feedback to professional

Once upon a time I had to work 9 to 5 all summer for the rest of my life.

Once upon a time this seemed so far away

Once upon a time I was afraid, but now just try & stop me!

Once upon a time the room for error became smaller than the risk of failure

Once upon a time today was the future

The colophon was cast in hot metal on Lead Graffiti’s Intertype C4.

Studio projects Wednesday June 04 2014 02:51 pm

Capital One 360 :: 6/3/14

The design department from Capital One 360 took a day off from the computer to dive into some 15th century letterpress. The end result is a 14-page hard cover ‘meander’ book which is wrapped in Lead Graffiti paste paper.

We start with the line, “Once upon a time…” and then they finish it. Each participant picks an initial cap that is printed in the first color. Then they build their typography around it.

Below is the lockup for the second color and the 2-color broadside which forms the text block. In the broadside the top and third row have been rotated so all of the pages are oriented the same.

This image is 512 pixels wide. For more detail click on the image to see the image 1000 pixels across.

Capital One 360 Creative Letterpress workshop

The lines from upper left to lower right:

Title page: Capital One 360 : UX : Once upon a time

Once upon a time they got on a bus!

Once upon a time birds sang just for me.

Once upon a time will happen again. Once upon a time will happen again.

Once upon a time I found my true love.

Once upon a time… cube!

Once upon a time I gave a shit about symmetry.

The colophon was cast in hot metal on Lead Graffiti’s Intertype C4.