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events Thursday May 07 2015 01:05 am

Upcoming Lead Graffiti events

We seem to be doing a lot of things related to AIGA / Philadelphia lately and that has been nice. AIGA is truly a great design organization and it is particularly helpful to students.

May 2015

Jill at the Formal School of Bookbinding : Jill is enjoying 2 consecutive week-long, leather binding workshops with Don Rash, who operates the Formal School of Bookbinding from his Plains, PA studio. Don works in the German style of bookbinding which offers some nice variations from what we are used to. Week 1 was an introduction to leather bindings focused on flat cord and raised cord bindings along with a nice leather touch for the book fore-edge. Week 2 is on full-leather binding. We are looking forward to this extending our capabilities (and fun) in our bookbinding work.

AIGA / Philadelphia’s Feedback 17 : Feedback is a portfolio review for area design programs. I think there were about 8 schools represented. Ray was asked to deliver the opening motivational talk what looked like about 120 student participants. His talk was about “Wwagsd?” It is a talk he often used to encourage his own students, to “use the moment” and ask yourself, “What would a good student do?Right here, right now. Often at a workshop, studio visit, class, etc. small things can make a huge impact over time. An extra question here or there. Standing closer to the person at the center of the event. Volunteering quickly if one is asked for. Far too many students are far too fearful. One interesting student came up to me during some of my down time toward the end and said, “One of the other students from his school said I had been the toughest on him and he wanted me to look at his portfolio.” If you could spend your days with that kind of attitude you could take your talent some place special.

AIGA / Philadelphia Night CapsEnjoy a drink and some laughs while Mikey Ilagan, Editor-In-Chief at Geekadelphia, moderates a Q&A on the ins-and-outs of the design industry with regional creative leaders. I will be on the program with Christine Fischer, a design strategist at Vangard. The focus is on “education vs. experience” or in other words “getting a job or going to graduate school.” Event happens at United by Blue which is located at 244 N. 2nd Street (on 2nd just south of Race Street). Doors open at 6:30. Recording starts at 7:00. If you tweet about it, try including the following tags: @leadgraffiti @aigaphilly @mikeyil #AIGAnightcaps @UBBphila. They typically average about 30 attendees. I’d love to see the evening at least beat the average. Admission for AIGA members is $5, nonmembers - $10, and students - free (bring your ID).

June 2015

AIGA / Philadelphia’s SPACE Gallery : Lead Graffiti has been invited to exhibit work from their Tour de Lead Graffiti poster journal project at the SPACE Gallery. We will have posters from each of the 2011 - 2014 editions. SPACE gallery is located at 72 N. 2nd Street (at Arch Street). The gallery is open Thursdays from 3:00-7:00pm, and Fridays / Saturdays from 1:00-7:00pm. AIGA Philly SPACE, not only serves as AIGA Philadelphia’s headquarters, but aims to serve the arts and cultures community of Philadelphia through unique exhibits featuring (but not limited to) the art of graphic design, engaging workshops, and lectures designed to inspire interest and understanding of graphic design and the visual arts.

Gallery talk in the SPACE Gallery on Saturday, June 20th at 3:00. Should be fun to just walk around and talk. Come. Ask some questions.

July 2015

Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015 : It is Tour de France time from Saturday, July 4 through Sunday, July 27. That means this will be our 5th Tour de Lead Graffiti, a daily poster journal following the Tour. That means we will be watching the Tour live on TV from 8:30 until noon. Then head over to the Glass Kitchen for lunch & pie and discussion about what we saw during the stage and how we might translate those events into a 14.5″ x 22.5″ poster. This is done each day of the tour for 23 consecutive days. Last year Ray alone averaged more than 114 hours a week for the 23 days. We call it “endurance letterpress.” Over the project we did 109 runs. You can link to the 2014 TdLG project by clicking here. You can click on the poster image and cycle to the next stage. From any of those pages you can also link back to the 2011, 2012, or 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti projects.

events Saturday January 31 2015 02:39 pm

Thoughts from our talk at George Mason University

Lead Graffiti was invited to speak about our work as part of the George Mason UniversityVisual Voices Lecture Series” in a talk we entitled “A coloured letter at the bottom of a ditch.” The title was taken from a quote by the British type designer & sculptor, Eric Gill.

We started our day in Don Starr’s 2nd-year graphic design class, which happened to be working with calligraphy. They watched the film “Typeface” for the first half of class then the instructor asked us to talk with them. The students didn’t know us at all, probably only grasping most of what they knew about letterpress from the film

Talking to the students reminded me of the start of each year when I would walk into a class of new students. I had learned a year of new stuff and those students had forgotten a year of stuff (all of the stuff I had taught the previous year’s class). Today we were showing some of our work printed via letterpress and trying to make some connection to the students that might stick. We were trying to bring up anything that had calligraphy in it, like how letterpress and calligraphy are connected. I told them about us stumbling into working with letterpress because we wanted to take our Visual Communications students to London to help them get the feeling that “type had weight.” Like how a word in a poem that makes a very important point usually is a more weighty (significant) word than one in a newspaper article. I’m not at all sure we made the point, but it seemed like a good one so I said, “you’ll likely never do anything with digital type in the next two years that is more deliberate than what you will do working with calligraphy.

For any of the calligraphy students from the George Mason class who are reading this, here are 4 links to important online pages relating to calligraphy.

  • Saint John’s Bible - links to a Google search of largish images from the Bible. Jill and I saw an exhibition at the Walters Gallery in Baltimore on the book when it was about 50% done and it was really a fabulous exhibition. The bible is a recent manuscript Bible with wonderful illustrations. Click on a couple images.
  • APHA books of hours meeting - American Printing History Association meeting held at the Library of Congress to look over 2 dozen Books of Hours.
  • Grandmasters award - calligraphy by a friend, Satwinder Sehmi, from London.

I mentioned Stefan Sagmeister to make a point, but no one knew him. Yet, anyway, they will before they are done.

A bit later I took a shot at wanting to compare something about Shepard Fairey, a street artist, with a project some friends from “Grand Army” did in our studio one weekend a couple of years ago. No one knew him either. In my favorite photo of me, I’m wearing one of his “Obey Propaganda” t-shirts. So…

Thought #1: Seniors cannot know everything by the time they are sophomores.

A young lady sitting close by seemed to be starting to drift away, sitting quietly with her eyes closed. I kept talking for a moment and looked back at her and her eyes were still closed. I made a note to myself to not look back at her as it was going to make me want to stop the conversation all together.

I thought I would end with one of our favorite pieces which we love to show design students. It demonstrates the power of design to alter the thinking of your client. Our piece is a book with an essay written by British Author Nick Hornby and it is coupled with the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.”

It turns out Ann, the one with her eyes closed, wasn’t sleeping at all, but just choosing darkness over classroom light. Ann blurted out, “Nick Hornby. I know who that is!” She was familiar with Nick who had written the lyrics for an album with American singer-songwriter Ben Folds back in 2010.

It is worth mentioning that much of my teaching was based on trying to do a lot of things in a lot of ways, figuring that I had a better chance to connect with more of the students in a hopefully, significant way.

Ann was then my favorite student at George Mason University. So…

Thought #2: If you throw enough stuff at a group of students, something almost always will stick.

During our talk that evening I introduced Ann as my favorite student at George Mason University to the 250 students in attendance. It was hard not to think that the other 249 students were asking, “What the hell does that mean?” It was nice that she walked up front and talked to us some afterwards. I would have hated remembering her back in that dark corner.

For anybody from the Visual Voices talk reading this far and headed into design, I apologize for that typographic fiasco during the presentation. I really love the typeface I was trying to use. I often use it in its italic form which is quite calligraphic. The typeface is called Rialto (by DF Type) not the crappy typeface of the same name by Linotype or Letraset. My version doesn’t have italic capitals, but the lowercase has some wonderful expression.

Below is the italic lowercase which might give you some nice ideas for calligraphy. Sweet. We often use it as our house face for our personal work.

Now Ann needs to email me so I can send her something to celebrate the connection.

Studio & Studio projects & events Wednesday January 01 2014 12:01 pm

Top 10 moments of 2013 at Lead Graffiti

Several of our top 10 moments (though some stretch way past moments) of 2013 are annual events, which is quite nice.

Tour de Lead Graffiti, our month-long ‘endurance letterpress’ project, followed and translated the daily events of the 2013 Tour de France into ink on soft, sexy paper. This, our 3rd year, had us wondering if we could find new ways to visually talk about similar kinds of moments. After 23 more new posters it appears that there are indeed different ways to handle them.

This year’s event was highlighted in the December 16th issue of Sports Illustrated’s “Year in Media” issue. How cool is that?

. . .

Lead Graffiti was approached about contributing the binding of a remembrance folio for the family of our good friend and fellow letterpress printer, Mike Denker, who passed away. Mike collected wood type, so we did the cover with an alphabet made up of 26 different wood type faces. Chris Manson supplied the printing on the inside pages and a wonderful woodcut illustration of Mike.

null

. . .

We’ve long admired the work of Henry Morris of Bird & Bull Press. We heard he was giving up his precious studio and were asked to join local letterpress newbie Lindsay Schmittle to go with her to talk about buying his type and C&P 10 x 15 press. Henry made us an offer to buy his Miehle V50, which we couldn’t refuse. He threw in a most wonderful turtle (a massive cart on wheels). Here are Tray and Henry  helping us understand the press. Stop by and see the turtle and get a demo on the Miehle. They are really cool and seriously industrial.

. . .

The Waldorf School of Philadelphia invited us to develop diplomas for their 8th grade class in 2012. This is one of those “Now that you started, how could you possibly quit?” We are already scheduled for a repeat in 2014. What we need now is another Sierra. This is the photo of the first year’s diplomas.

. . .

So many things that end up being some of our best creative work stem from a tiny spark of interest. Daily, early morning RSS feeds, awoke us to the fact that it was Shakespeare’s birthday. The national news was still caught up with the Boston Marathon bombing, so the notion of joining those 2 events started things off for an ‘afternoon diversion.’ It was also our first shot at our ‘offprinting’ technique you can see in the word Shakespeare.

. . .

We love doing our Creative Letterpress workshops with design students. We can show them so much first hand about the history of typography and printing in a technology that has all but passed away. The chance to handset and lock-up wood and metal type, to sit at our Intertype C4 and push molten type metal into typographic molds, and print a wonderful collaborative book in one day is wonderful. On top of that the books end up in Special Collections at the University of Delaware and the Library of Congress. It is so nice to see teachers who will push their students beyond the classroom into what was 3 workshops covering all of their Advanced Typography students. We wish we had a dozen schools like Philadelphia University. Here is one of the smiling groups at the end of the day.

. . .

We wanted to produce a Lead Graffiti version of the meander book form (same as in the photo above) we use in our Creative Letterpress workshops. Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press, another Delaware letterpress printer, introduced us to John Dorsey, an Ohio-based poet. John wrote 12 autobiographical poems for Boxcar Poems 1 - 12. Simply a blast working via letterpress with his words.

The clamshell version shown above also includes the metal slug of the first line of the Boxcar Poem bearing that same number designation. The slugs were cast on our Intertype C4 and the clamshell also includes one of Ray’s photos of a seriously old boxcar.

. . .

We were invited to give the keynote address on our Tour de Lead Graffiti project during the AIGA of Central Pennsylvania Annual Portfolio Review. It was wonderful to look out into the dark and not see faces aglow with the light from cellphones. Thanks to Adam Delmarcelle for the invitation. This is a photo of students signing the Lead Graffiti poster we printed via letterpress to promote the portfolio review. The poster was given to us as a thank you which was a very nice touch and you can see it hanging on the wall of our studio.

. . .

We love it when things seem to just flow together. Ann Lemon’s birthday is ‘May the Fourth’ and she wanted to do a Star Wars-based Creative Letterpress workshop for a group of special friends. As fortune would have it, our son, Tray, is heavily involved with a Star Wars professional costuming group. The day just worked out perfect like a Tatoouine sunrise.

Just for the record the photo was shot in our studio. Tray is the Stormtrooper on the right. Yes, that is Darth Vader. And of course Ann Lemon as the Emperor (without nearly the wrinkles and a much nicer smile).

. . .

We had a great workshop with our first Boy Scout troop. They came for the day, did our Creative Letterpress workshop, and ended up with a nice book of the 12 rules of scouting to remind them to help make this a better world. Below is the group gathered around Tray and our Intertype C4 linecaster. They even got to cast their names, which we used to print the colophon for the book.

And they got their Graphic Arts Merit Badge for the effort.

events & personal & trips Monday December 02 2013 11:39 am

A lot of people have done letterpress at one time or another

Lead Graffiti does a few crafts shows and we love talking up letterpress. It is strange how many people or their family members who were connected to the printing trade at some point. Lots of times it is specifically letterpress.

So, Bill Roberts, of Bottle of Smoke Press, and I are in New York City for the JFK/NYC/OMG poetry reading on the anniversary of JFK’s death. Bill printed a nice keepsake book via letterpress containing Allen Ginsberg’s poem Nov 23, 1963: Alone to be given away to the attendees to celebrate and remember the evening. One of the readers at the event was Grant Hart. Grant was the former drummer and co-songwriter in the influential 1980’s punk band, Hüsker Dü, and then singer and guitar for the alternative rock trio, Nova Mob. Anyway, at the post party at the event organizers’ Greenwich Village apartment, I took the shot of Grant below.

I like shooting photos holding the camera at waist level to give the image a different perspective. Having a more spontaneous feel, this photo has jumped into my top five favorite letterpress portraits that I’ve ever taken, which brings us to the important part of this story.

I’m guessing that life in an 80’s punk band was a somewhat different than the life I was having during some of my most memorable days teaching in the Visual Communications Group at the University of Delaware.

Bill and I were talking with Grant about music when he mentioned liking the letterpress keepsake. Then out of nowhere, he starts grilling Bill and me about the order of the cells in a California job case. Huh? “What are the top row cells?” and we would stammer a bit and start reciting the list. Then Grant would fire another question.

Grant told us, “Let Me Now Help Out Your Punctuation With Commas,” which is a mnemonic for the middle row of lowercase cells in a California job case. It is strange that after almost 12 years of letterpress, I don’t think I’ve ever heard one of these memory aids until Grant blasted us with them. So, sometime in Grant’s life he had done some letterpress.

Also, how can you not like a guy who was in a band that had two umlauts in the name? According to Wikipedia, the term without the umlauts means, “Do you remember?” in Danish and Norwegian. The group added the heavy metal umlauts for effect. I could love Hüsker Dü for the umlauts alone.

Grant was playing a solo performance at the Cake Shop later in the evening, which Bill and I wanted to check out. When we got there, Grant was standing right at the door. He grabbed us and we headed for the stairs. He told the cashier who was taking money that we were friends and to just let us through. The three of us, connected by letterpress, headed down into the basement theater for an hour of great Grant Hart music. Most definitely a night to remember.

I do really love this portrait. Now to figure out how to get Grant to want us to print his next CD cover via letterpress.

It seems like I should show Bill’s Bottle of Smoke Press keepsake book (shown below) that was given away free to those in attendance. Some days I like letterpress more than other days. This was definitely one of the good days.

I should throw in a mention of meeting Meagan who will be the subject of an upcoming Lead Graffiti book.

events Monday May 13 2013 07:05 am

AIGA / Philadelphia Feedback 2013

My review of Feedback will follow links to AIGA articles written by Steven Heller and one by Ellen Lupton that also make some interesting reading.

Too Many Grads or Too Few Competencies? The Design School Dilemma / September 8, 2005

What this Country Needs is a Good Five-Year Design Program / April 7, 2004

The Re-Skilling of the American Art Student / March 29, 2005

University of the Unimpressed / May 16, 2013 (design education in England)

. . .

I was invited to participate as both a panelist and a reviewer at the AIGA / Philadelphia Feedback, a portfolio review for 2013.

I made a comment in the panel about not liking teachers (having been one for 3 decades). I cannot remember what I actually said, but it was something to that effect. That wasn’t exactly what I meant to say. I had just done a portfolio review a couple of weeks earlier (and also Feedback last year) and had felt very critical of teachers based on student solutions that must have been approved by the faculty, types of projects which just didn’t lend themselves to interesting portfolio-quality solutions, lack of educational opportunities being offered, lack of outside interactions, etc.

Clearly, there are lots of good teachers and I admire their knowledge base and the problems they have to deal with in regard to student work ethics, school administrations, the fact that logically most people probably have to teach more computer skills than design skills, etc.

I love a lot of teachers, what they do and what they accomplish. I really, really dislike that SOME people are in a position to teach, as I think they often do far too little to push a student to work at a level that is near their potential. They probably all feel like they are trying as best they can, but to me they clearly aren’t trying nearly enough. Teaching is a privilege.

. . .

A couple of other thoughts. It is clear that some schools choose to not participate, probably with the sense that they can invite in their own reviewers and control the review better if they just do their own. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t argue against that. When I was the head of Visual Communications at the University of Delaware we always did a review in New York with our New York graduates. It was a nice way to get out of town, to get a review in the city where most of our students wanted to work, and to connect with our grads on a face-to-face basis. But we also always did at least the AIGA / Philadelphia review along with the Art Directors Club of New York (who didn’t do it this year for some reason). The reason we always wanted to do reviews that included other schools was to encourage our students to look at the portfolios of at least 4 or 5 students from other schools. You could always look at one portfolio and then ask that person who had the best portfolio from that school in their opinion (other than their own, of course). That usually got you to a good portfolio. So, now you could see something of who was good from some other place. What kinds of projects they were doing. What kind of look they had. Strength of typography, photography, printing, etc. I think students who live in an insulated word have a very narrow view of the what the competition looks like. From my nearly 35 years teaching at the University of Delaware, the names of the schools I’m talking about are going to go unnamed, but you know who I’m talking about, were always like this. I don’t get it. I wanted their students to see my students, because if they were better I wanted us to both know it and I wanted to know it to help me be better a better teacher. We both lose without the interaction. But then you can stick your head in the sand and always think and believe what you want, regardless of what reality is. The students and faculty from the schools that participated in the AIGA Feedback are to be commended. Now the schools that participated need to do whatever they can to produce better students than the ones that don’t. That will be the ultimate reward. I don’t understand how students don’t resolve this on their own by just taking their own initiative and doing something like Feedback.

It isn’t hard for me to imagine that the best reviews you might get over the whole night are the ones that happen between the reviews you signed up for.

Enough of that.

. . .

Once again I talked with 10 or 11 students.

Clearly, 10 students out of 50 or so is only a narrow view of the participants, but the work I saw this year was far better than it was last year. I’m not sure why, but it was much better thought out, craft was nice, students were more articulate when answering my questions (and I always have a lot). It was nice. Now that I’ve been out of the classroom for 6 years it was good to see that design is alive and well.

. . . T H A N K  Y O U S

I’m going to make this point just in case you haven’t read my review of last year’s Feedback. Every student who had the opportunity to visit with someone who had taken an evening away from their family, work, TV, reading or whatever they might have done otherwise on a Thursday night, should send a physical, non-digital thank you. And I mean that even if you want nothing to do with the print world and only ever see yourself making websites in the future. Send it with a stamp through the U.S. Mail. This has to be done within 10 days or just be unthankful.

. . . W H A T  D O  Y O U  W A N T  T O  B E

Last year I complained that far too many students couldn’t answer my first question, “What do you want to be?” Clearly they had that answer this year and quickly. I have to admit it was a bit surprising how many students want to do print (not web). There is great print being done, but it seemed odd that there was so little digital work in the portfolios. Honestly, designing the opening page of a website isn’t much, if any different, from designing a great spread in an annual report. I cannot imagine not having at least one website in  your portfolio. Design the opening page, then two visually different pages you would link to from that opening page, and then two more visually different pages that would link from those pages. Done. You risk leaving a hole in your options of creative capabilities. Then produce a print piece that goes along with it so you can show you understand the kinds of issues a company has to go through in today’s world of visually communicating with its target audience. I don’t think it is critical that you be able to code it, although I’m sure others would disagree. I don’t actually remember seeing a good digital design (might just be my memory), but that just doesn’t feel good.

. . . C O N C E P T !  B R A N D I N G !

I’m sure every school teaches what they believe concept and branding are. Honestly, in looking at the portfolios I’m not sure I think anyone is doing it very well at all. I think too often when a project had a good concept, the student didn’t know it because it would show up once and then not again in the project. I think my years teaching advertising design at the University of Delaware gave me a good idea of what concept and strategy was. I think the word ‘branding’ was a bad choice in that it kind of brings to mind branding cattle to say, “This is my cow.” Just putting a logo on it or having continuity to the layout isn’t what branding is. I think this is a serious fault in much graphic design education today.

One of the best people I’ve ever seen explain what ‘BRAND’ is was Marty Neumeier who was the publisher of a great design magazine a number of years ago called Critique. You can see one of his presentations from back in 2010 here, which I think does a pretty reasonable job explaining it. Just for the record I have no stake in Marty’s world and have only passingly met him once in my life. Find a core idea and then build your design around it. It seems like so many projects are just ‘arranging’ things. Design is about ’smart’ more than ‘taste’ to me. There is a tendency to “write out what you want me to know.” It is like the piece was written by a marketing person (nothing against them, but marketing isn’t a creative strategy. It is just saying what you want people to know and that just isn’t enough to ‘grab onto’ people in today’s competitive marketplace. You can’t teach people to be smart by getting them to memorize all the right answers.

Doing a good job of branding is to have me (the audience) figure it out without you saying it.

When I used to teach every student needed an xRay, which was what I called the strategy statement, before anything else could happen. I kind of wish a school would invite me up to speak which would make me break out those files and rethink them.

. . . P O R T F O L I O  P A G E S

Another rather negative bit from the review is how nicely students could design a brochure or poster, but how poorly they design a page in their portfolio to show that brochure or poster. Rectangular photos that make the work look like something from some grandmother’s photo album (nothing against grandmothers, but they usually don’t know much about designing a portfolio). At least for us at Lead Graffiti, we make THINGS. We want them to look like THINGS. We go to a lot of trouble to photograph them and to make them look like THINGS.

I suspect some of this comes from programs that don’t have a strong photographic experience. I would find a way to change that. Students need to see the need for photography and then do something about getting it. Photography is just too useful of a tool to not dive into it deeper than most all of the students did.

This is a photo of a book from one of our letterpress workshops.

The result is a THING? And that photo looks so much nicer on a page than a rectangle with that image in it. The rectangle says “this is a flat, dimensionless (well it does have 2) object.”

It might be that when a student is doing their own portfolio page they are too embarrassed or humble to do it well. Kind of like the problem of needing to brag on yourself. Most people write their résumés very amateurishly because they cannot openly talk about themselves in a positive way.

So, imagine a designer you love. Let’s just say it is Stefan Sagmeister. Assume that he knows you and likes you as a designer and a person and wants you to get that great first job you want. Design the page for you that Stefan would design for you. I promise it will likely be better than whatever it is that you are doing. If you reviewed with me you’ll know the school I’m talking about, but many of the pages just looked the same from one project to the next and one portfolio to the next. It looks like the school is trying to promote the school and not you. YOU are the focus of your portfolio.

Personally, I also think that too many of the pages fell into what I call the “jigsaw puzzle syndrome.” The pieces are lying on a flat table and they can never get on top of any other piece. Here is another photograph we use in our online portfolio showing certificates. If they never touch I can get maybe 1/2 as many in the photograph. Those are also real shadows and not something created in Photoshop.

I thought the scale of pieces shown in the portfolios were strangely too small. I said so many times that something should be twice as large. Not 10% larger. 100% larger. And sometimes even more.

It also seemed that there was often a small, 10 or 12 point text sentence in the corner explaining the project. I think you would be a lot better trying to find 2 words and then doing them in 60 point time at the top in some light color so as to not overpower that connected to the project. Not big and black but big and light. Don’t compete with your project, but help me, the reader, understand right up front what we are talking about. Send me a jpg of your project and I’ll send you two words back.

. . . B U S I N E S S  C A R D S

I walked out with about 20 business cards, 10 student and 10 professional. EVERY student business card but one was visually more boring then the most boring of the professional cards. Where did that come from? And it would also be nice to see someone put their email address in something more than 8 or 10 point type.

. . . 3 - M I N U T E  P R O J E C T

In my part of the panel discussion I complained about student pieces that I would think I could design in 3 minutes. Maybe that scared off a lot of students from signing up with me that had those in their projects in their portfolios. Good. But I didn’t see very many of those this year.

. . . P R O J E C T  O R D E R

This may just be that my opinion is different from your opinion, and that is OK, if you are being very thoughtful and deliberate with the organization of your portfolio.

The piece that best says what you want to be should be first. The second best piece should be the last piece in your portfolio to leave them with a good impression. Your third best piece should be second and all of your others should be 4th to next to last with some thought to pacing. This year as well as last, I almost always disagreed with what was first. You need that killer piece first that makes the reviewer say, “I need to hire this person.” And then as much as possible, you need to not let them change their mind.

. . .

Feel free to share these statements with anyone you like, especially faculty you like and students who will be graduating next year. Most of the things that really matter in a portfolio have to be pretty well done 2 months before portfolio reviews start. It is just hard to avoid getting caught up in it “I just need to get this thing done.”

I would love to talk to schools, but not in May when they are graduating. October or March of the junior year would be a lot better. I would love to do a formal presentation and then spend the rest of the day talking to students who don’t want to go away.

. . . F O R  A I G A

Do Feedback sooner. I would say the middle of April or change the name to “hiring.” The point of feedback is to be able to give it and then have the people have the time to do something about it. May 9 is just too late to expect the critiques to lead to any meaningful change. I would be willing to bet not one student did anything I talked about because they just want to get a job.

Also, I would like to have a record of what I did. I would like to have a list of who the students I talked to listed with their names and what school they came from. I want both of those pieces of information. Just make a signup sheet, have the students sign up (did they do that online or the day of Feedback) with their name and school, and then give me that sheet.

I understand the scheduling problem, but I think 15 minutes is just too short. You’ve got to make it at least 20.

I really had a good time. I wish the letterpress workshops I offered had been given out sooner so maybe I could have had the opportunity to talk to the winners a bit.

Make sure the students have a place to sit between their reviews and do something to encourage the students to look at each others’ books.

Here is another thing that I always loved about my students at Delaware that lead me to believe we were doing some things right. We would go to a portfolio review sponsored by maybe the Philadelphia Art Directors Club. By the end of it the students had figured out who was good and hard at the critiques. When the last review was finished UD students would surround them. They would always get another 2 or 3 reviews out of them. And the other students would be crowded around watching even if it wasn’t their portfolio being reviewed. The Art Directors Club of New York use to really encourage other students to sit and watch the review before theirs. That way they could listen and not be the target of any criticism. I really liked that.

. . .

There are probably typos and awkward wording. I’ll keep working on this for another week or so. This is actually round 4 of reworking this which I did on May 15.

events Thursday August 19 2010 08:15 am

House Industries & the Challenge Program

We spent a great day with some great guys for a great cause. We are good friends with the guys at House Industries sharing a love of typography, good craft, and contributing to socially important projects.

Rich Roat asked if we would help with an invitation for the Challenge Program and we jumped at the chance. Rich along with three of the program’s participants came down and helped us print via letterpress an invitation, RSVP, thank you, and three envelopes. We had a pretty nice system with silver ink on our Vandercook SP-15 and Black on our Vandercook Universal III. We think it adds a lot when both sides as well as the clients when there is a sharing of the printing experience.

It was a nice way to spend five hours and share a couple of good Nick & Joe’s pizzas. Always nice to pass the letterpress vibe to new people.

house industries challenge program

Photos by Rich Roat.

Invitation, RSVP, & thank yous: 150 copies on Crane Lettra 100# Fluorescent White printed in silver / black

Envelopes: French Paper Dur-O-Tone Butcher Orange in A6 and A2 printed in silver / black

events Monday July 26 2010 12:22 pm

8-day workshop

We just completed a whirlwind 8 days with Virginia Green from Baylor University. Virginia wants to jump into the deep end of the pool of letterpress. She got a nice grant to come, study, and print at Lead Graffiti.

Virginia Green Baylor University

The photo above illustrates a few memorable events. From the top left: when we got back from picking Virginia up at the airport Ben Kiel of House Industries was printing a poster for the Tour de France; visiting with Roland Hoover, former letterpress printer for Yale University; talking with Mike Kaylor, looking over the woodcuts and letterpress with Chris Manson; setting a full 15″ x 20″ area of 48 point Garamond; visiting Mike Denker and his wood type collection; drooling over a Kelmscott “Chaucer” with Rebecca Johnson Melvin of Special Collections at the University of Delaware, and speed printing twenty 2-color carefully registered notecards, including trimming / creasing / folding, in less than 90 minutes.

I think she knew she was here.

events Wednesday March 24 2010 06:52 am

Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference

Jill and Ray are giving a talk to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference at the end of April on our work designing, photographing, and cooperating with 50+ authors for Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 that we published under our Wallflowers Press name in 2007. The book was a 288-page, hard cover book with some nice details published in an edition of 1000 numbered copies which sold out in about 6 months.

MAVAC

MARAC was nice enough to use a few photographs of Newark citizens that ran as a band through the entire book on their Spring 2010 booklet cover.

description of the $450 deluxe copies: still have five of the twelve for sale

all of the entries on our blog related to the project

Studio projects & events Thursday February 18 2010 12:31 pm

House in the house

Ben Kiel and Rich Roat of House Industries, the wonderful & nearby digital type foundry, spent a late night at Lead Graffiti working on a poster Ben had designed for Richard Sachs Cycles. The posters are going to be sold at the Shimano North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Richmond, VA at the end of February.

As it turned out, it was the largest photopolymer plate (about 17″ square) we had ever printed. Luckily we have been experimenting with a new base material for photopolymer plates to fill the beds of our Vandercooks. Up until now we didn’t have enough bases to cover the space required for this project and at the same time fit within the form size on our Vandercook Universal III.

The poster was a first time use of a beautiful new stencil type from from their forthcoming Eames Century Modern collection that is scheduled to premiere in March 2010.

Here is one more photo of ink hitting paper.

house industries

Other blog hits on the project.

thewashingmachinepost.net

trackosaurusrex.com

events Sunday January 31 2010 11:19 pm

Grand Army rumbles into Lead Graffiti

Grand Army

The Wieden + Kennedy Attack guys of Grand Army occupied Lead Graffiti for a weekend long letterpress experiment with fun. Ephemera happened. Ink happened. Wood type happened. A boatload of leading and furniture happened. Hopefully some equality will happen, but that is for a later post.

a bit of teaser: images from the printing (then next to see the images)

a bit of film: GrandArmy x Star Wars

final result of the effort: Manifest Equality

As the image of the official Lead Graffiti ‘Stormtrooper printer’s devil’ (aka Tray Nichols / TK4251) has spread like a virus across the internet we thought we would add an image to this post to provide a little credit where credit is due.

stormtrooper tk4251

Studio projects & events & workshops Wednesday January 20 2010 07:12 am

Philadelphia University creative letterpress workshop

Six wonderfully aggressive graphic design seniors from Philadelphia University took it upon themselves to set up a Creative Letterpress workshop with Lead Graffiti on Saturday, January 9. We wanted to set up a group project that really let them see how letterpress worked and also might provide them with a piece they could use in their portfolio.

Each student was let loose in our wood and metal type collection to develop a spread about typography or design. They also each set their name in large metal type. These pages were printed on three different colors along with a cover called “Textiments.” After the workshop Lead Graffiti bound the three signatures together. Each student got three copies of the book with their spread as the center of the opening signature.

Philadelphia University workshop

Studio projects & events & workshops Tuesday November 30 1999 12:00 am

Couple of hours-long internships

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Are you a student or someone new to letterpress interested in some letterpress experience?

What about an internship for the day (or more likely just a couple of hours)?

We do a lot of work that is free (important friends, important causes, important fun, important chances to experiment) or nearly free and it is that work that I’m referring to in this post and not work for ‘paying’ customers.

These are a few things on our list right now that fit into this experience.

. . .

Yesterday I printed 250 of our Boxcards printed on recycled board that reads “100 percent post consumer waste greetings” to give out to  visitors. Someone like you could have done that printing.

We recently finished printing a broadside (see right) for a student poet who had written a nice poem and we thought having a broadside of the poem would feel good. It would have been an interesting project for an intern both for the composition and the handrolling.

In the next few days we will be printing a certificate in handset metal type with an interesting CMY (no K) border for an award given in the name of a former student’s friend who recently passed away.

A photographer friend is having a Manhattan exhibition of his work in May and we are working on a keepsake idea to give to those attending the show’s opening.

We need to make pastepapers to use for small book covers made during  our ‘creative letterpress’ / bookmaking workshops.

Coming up this spring is the designing and printing of a diploma for an 8th grade class. We are excited about doing it in the style of the Nobel Prize certificates, which contain original artwork.

I could use some energy to help me get our Albion handpress working correctly as well as covering the tympans and frisket with paper.

A Minneapolis-based former student wants help doing a letterpress poster for ArtCrank (an exhibition of bicycle-related posters by local artists) to be held in April.

Might you be interested in handrolling a gazillion copies of text that would be combined to make a kind of flipbook film for a very important friend on a very important project (still doing it for free)?

Jill and Ray are members of the American Printing History Association and are working on podcasts of various letterpress printers in the Washington, DC area. While connected to letterpress this is actually a film project.

There are probably 6 more in play at the present time that we could do some part of on any given day.

. . .

We were thinking we could come up with a mechanism where we could post a project and/or a day. We don’t much care much if it is on a weekday or a weekend (just have to avoid workshops), day or evenings, so anyone who has Thursday afternoons open might push for something to happen then.

Some projects may have several steps and someone could stop in for any and all of them depending on what they wanted to get out of the experience.

Many of these projects don’t have very strictly scheduled due dates so there could flexibility in someone coming down on several different days to help finish the project.

You would probably have to be willing to commit a minimum of a 2-hour time block. You wouldn’t get paid as these are the kinds of projects we don’t get paid for, but we could give you maybe 5 copies of what we were printing.

If you sign up, you would have to actually follow through on it. If you schedule it and don’t do it, then likely you would forever be off our list for future projects.

If you already know something about letterpress that would be nice, but it often wouldn’t be necessary.

We’re thinking you would need to have ‘liked’ us on Facebook to schedule.

Also someone might say they’d like to come down on a Thursday afternoon for X number of hours without any particular project in mind and we’ll schedule something for then. Or someone might say they want to work on a specific project and we’ll find a time to schedule it that is convenient.

COMMENTS? It would be nice to see what people thought of this and it may be a way for a number of you to help us figure out a mechanism to connect our schedule to yours. What would make this work for you? What could we do to help you get some letterpress experience and all of us have some fun in the process?

Studio projects & events & important equipment & personal Tuesday November 30 1999 12:00 am

Thank yous

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In the social revolution that is happening on the Internet, it surely isn’t happening in the concrete world of paper. I find it amazing how much trouble you can sometimes go to and have no acknowledgement from the recipient of your trouble.

Anyway, if you’ve been following us at all you should know about Craig Cutler’s CC52 project. While they were here I had commented on how nice it was to have great equipment. Little comes close to “having the right tool for the right job.” Craig had to rush out at the end of the shoot, leaving his two assistants to clean up. I took Craig to the train station and when I got back they had left their lighting stands for us.

When I called Craig to tell him “No way,” he said he was moving his studio into a new location and was getting all new stands anyway. Yeah, right. But honestly we’ve really ramped up the quality of our photos. Those stands help out a lot more than I thought they would.

This was our photographic thank you to Craig with a bit of handrolled letterpress. He left 7 stands and a couple rolls of seamless. It all fit together quite well. It is actually harder to get those arms to intertwine than you would think. Check out Craig’s photos from Lead Graffiti, if you haven’t already.

Craig Cutler thank you

APA & Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 & Studio & Studio projects & Visual Communications / UD & events & film & honors, awards, media & news & important equipment & inventory / collection & inventory / important type & inventory / miscellaneous & inventory / presses & personal & photo projects / hand-drawn type & printing tricks / advice / help & trips & type & Lettering & uncategorized & workshops Tuesday November 30 1999 12:00 am

Craig Cutler at Lead Graffiti

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Craig Cutler, noted New York photographer, is near completion of a year-long series of weekly personal projects entitled CC52. The 49th in the series are photographs taken at Lead Graffiti.

Click on Craig’s image of some of our 96 point foundry metal Caslon below and take a look.