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Studio projects Thursday July 14 2016 09:08 am

July 13 / Stage 11 / Wind fractures

We started this idea of using our past posters to describe the present stages of the Tour de France with the worry that favorite posters wouldn’t find a place in the narrative. Today, one of the most important ones gets pulled in.

Today was a great day to watch the Tour for two reasons.

First, you got to really see a great physics demonstration of how drafting works. Drafting is what you see in Nascar racing where one car will pull close to another car’s back bumper to get into the front car’s slipstream and essentially be pulled along. If you can get close enough the amount of work you have to do is much reduced. Then when you want to pass, because you have all of this extra energy in reserve, you can slingshot around and pass the front car within a few seconds.

The same thing is true with cyclists. The cyclist riding in front has to do 100% of the work of riding into the wind. A rider right behind might only have to do 85% as much work to keep up. A 3rd rider tightly tightly tucked in only has to do 70%. After that there isn’t much, if any, gain in effort.

So, the peloton is racing across Southern France at high speed, several times clocked at 40mph. When riding at high speed the line of riders tends to stretch out. So, imagine 100 riders, generally no more than 3 or 4 wide, trying to stay close to the rider in front of them so as to have the physics of drafting working for them, and all of a sudden you are hit with a crosswind that disturbs your speed. All of a sudden a gap of only a couple of meters opens up between you and the rider right in front of you. In only a few seconds you go from doing only 70% as much work as the rider leading the pack in front of you, to 100%. That causes a bit more gap. All of a sudden you cannot catch back up and the gap gets wider and wider.

Below is what the peloton looks like when that happens.

You see the main peloton at the top being pushed to the right by the winds coming in from the left.

Below that you see 3 groups with the riders in each group trying to hide behind the rider in front of them. It takes a very strong rider to bridge the gap to the next group and typically the strongest riders are in that first group. And the rest of the 192 riders still in the race are off the back.

Here is the poster from July 13, 2013, exactly 3 years to the day ago, that is at least in my top 5 of all 115 posters we did related to the Tour. It think it is a poster that comes close to explaining an situation that is quite complicated.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Collaborating on the poster were 2 former students, Jeannie Marcotte Wagner & Jessica Koman.

The second great part of the day was a demonstration of how team cycling strategy works.

About 12km from the finish, with everyone struggling with the winds, most all of the significant sprinter teams were just starting to position themselves near the front of the peloton in anticipation of their leadout teammates taking them to victory.

Peter Sagan, one of the best and most exciting riders, and one of his teammates took off in a burst of speed. Immediately Chris Froome, who is currently leading the General Classification and wearing the Yellow Jersey, took off behind them. They were quickly followed by his teammate, Geriant Thomas. This all happened over a period of maybe 10 seconds. Wait another couple and you cannot catch them. Everyone else waited too long.

So you have two of the most powerful riders in the Tour and each has a teammate. Those teammates live to support their team leaders and the two leaders each of a serious incentive to get to the finish line in the first couple of positions. The main peloton had paused just long enough for the 4 to get away eventually building up a 23 second lead.

Additionally, the first 3 riders across the finish line get a time bonus. First gets 10 seconds, 2nd gets 6, and 3rd gets 4, in addition to any true time differences. Today’s stage was expected to be one for sprinters and 4 other guys were breaking up in line big time.

Because Froome wants to gain time on his competitors and Sagan wants to gain sprinter points his competitors, and the two other riders are paid to support their teammates, the 4 of them worked together like a well-made Swiss watch. Eventually they only won by 6 seconds, but that that was a big 6 seconds. Sagan won the Lion’s (Tour de France mascot is a lion) share of sprinter points and Froome had a gap of 6 seconds on his nearest rivals and getting 6 seconds time bonus for coming in 2nd, they both won big on a day that the real sprinters were expecting glory.

Bob Roll, one of the announcers for the telecast, said it was the most amazing end to a stage he had ever seen, and he has seen a lot of stages end.

You watch the telecast for 4 hours to seriously watch that final 12 minutes that it takes to cover 12k.

Spectacular.

Studio projects Wednesday July 13 2016 09:43 am

July 12 / Stage 10 / Out of a crowd

Our poster from Stage 8 of 2015 offers some striking similarities to today’s stage.

In 2015 a rider, Alexis Vuillermoz, jumped out of a crowd of riders to win the stage. In 2016, Michael Matthews, jumped out of a crowd of riders to win the stage.

For both riders it was their first stage win.

Peter Sagan came in second on both stages.

We’ve done the math, so here’s last year’s poster. It was the 100th Tour poster we had done which was nice to discover the day we were printing it.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Collaborating on the poster was Bonnie Feliciano, Meryl Arnold, and boyfriend, Tim.

Actually, we are doing a new poster that we should finish today based on the texture of the color from the Vuillermoz poster. Below is the poster, called ALPHABETACHAOS, without the title or credits printed on it. I’ll update to the final image as soon as I get that done. But for now…

We hope to do a series of these types of wood type specimen posters

Studio projects Tuesday July 12 2016 08:30 am

July 11 / Rest Day #1 / Chain gang posters

Today was a rest day so we thought we would bring out our first year’s Rest Day poster.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Diane Zatz, who collaborated a number of years on Tour de Lead Graffiti, worked with us this first year.

This was an important poster to us for a couple of reasons.

We printed from a bicycle chain arranged in the shape of France which had been nailed to a sheet of MDF. After this we started using chain on the 1st rest day each year. Here are two more 1st rest days with chain.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

This one was from 2012.

We had the top section of chain anchored to a sheet of MDF. We would handroll the chain in one of 4 colors and flip it to give it a random shape. We did this 4 times with a different color. We thought the random positions provided an interesting image, and if you saw a bunch of them together, they were quite different as you can see below.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

This one was from Rest Day #1 of 2015.

We used 4 bike chains hooked together and to a sheet of 1/2″ MDF attached with hot glue. We loved being able to connect resting / sleeping with bike chains so compactly. Also the rainbow roll on the “Z”s didn’t hurt any.

Studio projects Monday July 11 2016 04:44 am

July 10 / Stage 9 / Hell, hail!

It was a much anticipated mountaintop finish, but with the work done the day before it seemed like the riders most apt to have a decent shot at the General Classification win, didn’t have enough energy today to get away from each other. The top 2, Froome and Nairo Quintana, ended with the same time, gaining a little on Tejay Van Garderen, the highest ranked American, pushing him back to 1:01

Today’s stage was what we like to call “Zip Code” stages, ones where there are five major mountains.

Today was 1, 1, 2, 1, HC, so here zip code 21111 from Stage 9 (same as today) in 2013.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Yvonne Lin collaborated with us on the poster.

The arrows we used at the top of the poster were wood type arrows we had made for the 2011 posters to represent switchback on the Alpe d’Huez poster. We’ll throw that poster in at the bottom as it is one of our favorite posters typographically and they aren’t riding the mountain this Tour so we likely would have no other reason to show it.

Dan Martin, who won his first Tour stage back in 2013, was only 2 seconds behind Froome today.

Adam Yates, a new comer to the Tour, and wearing the White Jersey for the best rider under 25, was hanging in right there with the top contenders, having the same time as Froome.

Former Tour winner, Alberto Contador, called it quits, never recovered from crashes on stages 1 and 3. This year saw the modern record for the year that went the longest without any of the 198 riders dropping out of the Tour. He is headed to the Olympics and needs some time to recover from this year’s Tour.

Tom Dumoulin won today’s stage, holding off everyone from what started as a 40+ rider breakaway, his first Tour win ever. We love seeing someone win his first Tour stage.

Stage 19 of 2011 showing the “switchback” arrows and why we made them in the first place.

A French rider named “Rolland” allowed us to break his name into two words and do them red and blue for the French flag. Then we could add a yellow “Y” to and to give a callout to Andy Schleck, the rider we were rooting for to win the Tour. One of our favorite bits of copywriting of any of the 115 posters over Tour de Lead Graffiti.

Studio projects Sunday July 10 2016 10:52 am

July 9 / Stage 8 / Zoome

The first big day in the Pyrenees brought out the fireworks.

Started with an an out-of-category climb called Col du Tourmalet, followed by #2, #1, and #1 climbs, and then a 16km dive to the finish line. Slowly, the entire group of 197 riders were getting spread over miles of road. The top contenders and maybe 20 others were still together at the front going over the 4th climb, and Chris Froome, our favorite, took off right from the top on the descent. Froome is a good, and pretty fearless, descender, and over a blistering, up to 60mph, descent, got his lead up to 24 seconds. Sitting on his top bar to reduce wind resistance, Froome still found a way to pedal, to gain any advantage he could. I’m not actually sure you can pedal like that, but we watched him do it for kilometers.

Winning the stage, Froome gained the 10 second award, putting him in the Yellow Jersey for the first time this Tour. He has worn Yellow the most stages, 31, of any active rider.

We’ve got a number of good Froome posters we’ve done, but we have to give a nod to the speed of that surprising descent. So, first up is Stage 10 of 2015.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

It is worth throwing in our favorite poster to include Col du Tourmalet, which was shrouded in dense clouds when the riders crossed it.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

We had with Bill Roberts, one of the 3 people to collaborate with us on all 5 of our Tour years working with us on both of the posters shown. Bill always chose Bastille Day to work with us each of the 5 years.

Studio projects Saturday July 09 2016 08:23 am

July 8 / Stage 7 / Nelson Mandela Day 10 days early

This year we start watching the stage hoping each stage would nicely connect with favorite posters from our 5 Tour de Lead Graffiti projects. Today’s stage was a good one for that reason.

It started with a 29-rider breakaway which eventually dwindled to 5 who all maintained at least a 1 - 3 minute advantage, including race leader Greg Van Avermaet, over the main GC contenders. For a while it looked like he might add 5 minutes, which would have made the Tour a lot more interesting for the next week or so. Trust us. It is hard to do the amazing kind of rider Van Avermaet did the day before 2 days in a row. He didn’t do both days the same, but he came pretty close to it.

Steve Cummings, who won one of our favorite couple of stages (Stage 14 of 2015) over the past 5 years took it on today and won. Cummings rides for Dimension Data, a renaming of the first African team, who supports supplying bicycles to people in Africa who live in areas where roads are most often unpaved and cars or other transportation is unavailable. It is easy to root for any of them, which includes Mark Cavendish. So in one year they’ve gone from winning one amazing stage to winning 4 our of the 1st seven this year.

You should definitely read the story of that stage (click on the image below). It will give you a blast of energy you didn’t know you had.

Vincenzo Nibali (former tour winner), who has had a rough Tour this year was also in those top 5. Today was a great example of how you can have a variety of riders for whom you are rooting and even for a wide variety of reasons.

It is kind of interesting that the poster we are highlighting today was the one right after the one we highlighted yesterday. Hmmm.

Click on the image to see the original story of this poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

It is worth highlighting the quote on that original poster that Bob Roll, one of the Tour announcers on NBCSports, said. “The Tour teaches you to go through the suffering without surrendering.” I suspect that would be a good mantra for anyone. You just need to find your “Tour experience”

Steve Cummings owns a seat in our “favorites” section in the Tour de France forever.

Studio projects Friday July 08 2016 11:36 am

July 7 / Stage 6 / Cavendish wins 29th

Today was another long stage, a bit of mountainous terrain, that ends up in a bunch sprint.

As the mass of riders was descending on the finish line, Jill asks, “Who are you rooting for?” and I started doing the math. Sagan is always a favorite to go for. Greipel hasn’t won a stage yet and is clinching his teeth too much trying to. Kittel is just plain fast and it is kind of stupid to go against him. And Cavendish is tied for 2nd place in the most Tour stage wins ever.

Before I had a chance to answer I focus in on Cavendish who is probably 6 or 7 riders back so it looks lost for him, but then he gets behind someone and slingshot past them, up beside Kittel, but then simply overpowers him. Then Cavendish just does a plane old get-down-to-business power blast that must have had the officials checking his bike after the stage for some kind of motor hid in his bike. He didn’t win by a lot but two of the three previous stages had been won by less than the width of a bike tire.

As Cavendish crossed the finish line he was clocked at 47mph. If you’ve ever ridden a bike down a long, steep  hill, you know that getting up to 35 mph is serious and 40 will press you up against your fear maximum.

So, 29 stage wins and the real chase to 35 starts.

Alone in 2nd place with only the great Eddie Merckx in front with 34. Even if he catches him I suspect Merckx will always be the man. Kind of like talking about home runs in baseball. Babe Ruth’s record was broken, but somehow you cannot talk about home runs and not feel Ruth is still in the conversation.

Cavendish is headed to the Olympics and there is speculation he will be leaving the Tour before it ends to start his final preparation. So we want to get this poster (for a stage Cavendish didn’t even win) for Stage 6 of 2013, but where the emphasis is on him. The poster is possibly in our top 5 favorites.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Here is a photo about 12 seconds from the finish line.

It’s a good story and the lockup was killer fun, aligning the wood and metal layers of that tail.

Studio projects Thursday July 07 2016 08:22 am

July 6 / Stage 5 / Breakaway

Greg VanAvermaet overtook a breakaway on Stage 13 last year. This year a 9-rider, reduced to 3-rider, reduced to a 2-rider, reduced to Greg in a 17km-solo breakaway had built up a lead of 15:10 minutes and kept more than 5 of them on the peloton to cross the finish line with a stage win. Riders were scattered for probably 10km back down the road when he finished.

This was the complicated typography of the Stage 13 of 2015 poster we did last year illustrating the peloton overtaking the breakaway.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

In a day that was really just about athletic endurance it is easy to understand the excitement cycling generates in Europe. Jill and I watched the final hour an extra two times yesterday. I love my VCR.

Studio projects Wednesday July 06 2016 01:31 am

July 5 / Stage 4 / The longest stage

Today’s flat stage is the longest of this year’s Tour at 237.5km. The only poster we did that referred directly to being the longest stage was designed by Tray & Garrett Varady. In 2011 it was a wet day and we were constantly talking about the rooster tails coming off the wheels and how little fun it must have been to be in the middle of the peloton.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

This was only the 6th of what would become 115 posters and we had clearly not worked out any form of details that would later become part of the design system. We still weren’t naming the stage winners (which we would do regularly starting in 2012). This is also the poster with the most typography outside of the two wood typefaces we made for each year. This year we did a Clarendon Extra Bold in both a solid and an outline style. Here we only used the outline on “& wet.”

Here is a closeup of those water droplets.

It was a long day locking up all of those dots of different sizes and running them in 2 values of a bluish grey. Each of those dots which is not aligned and a different size requires effort to get it locked in tight so that the sticky ink rollers don’t pull them out or allow them to lean toward one side which keeps them from printing solidly.

We also have a set of numbers that are the largest wood type we have at about 10″ high. Tray and Garret only used the top part of the zero. An element I liked on this one was bleeding the image off the edges.

Today’s stage was won by Marcel Kittel. One of our favorite posters was Stage 4 of 2014. The talk of the Tour  at that time was Kittel’s (he is German) hair. During the travel times between the 3rd and 4th stages he had to give up his hair gel for a short airline flight from England to France. Nothing much happened in the race that day anyway, so we took the opportunity to do something a bit non-cyclist.

Each year we would produce a “pointing” graphic that was generally used to indicate an image representing cyclists. We repurposed a few of them, coupled with some creative handrolling, to illustrate Kittel’s hair.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Here is the promotional photo of Kittel for the Tour.

Enough said.

Studio projects Tuesday July 05 2016 12:51 am

July 4 / Stage 3 / Generally, it was a slow day

An interesting difference watching the Tour this year versus any of the past 5 has been we aren’t looking for some event to build a poster design around. Instead I start it looking for something that will let me connect a good poster we’ve already done, in order to reintroduce some of our past into the story.

All 198 riders were still in the race and today and only one of them, Armindo Fonseca (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), was up for a breakaway right from the start. Eventually he had built up a solitary, solid 6:00 gap to the peloton which was clearly taking a break from the normal cycling grind. Then 90km to the end one of our favorite cyclists, Frenchman, Tommy Voeckler took off to ride across to the leader. And he did it alone, covering the gap over a mere 6km. The announcers were clearly in agreement that the breakaway wouldn’t succeed, but you could hear it in their voices that they would love for them to.

Tommy Voeckler is an exciting rider that produced one of the and maybe THE most amazing athletic stages over the past 5 years. In a post race interview Voeckler said, My attack wasn’t planned. It was a relatively boring stage so I wanted to put a bit of craziness into it.” We love tis guy

So, here is the 2012 Stage 16 poster we want to highlight.

Tommy Voeckler

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

The stage had 4 high mountains, 2 HC (out of category peaks which are the big ones), and 2 category 1 (the next size down and those are still big ones). Voeckler was first over all four mountains and still had enough in his legs to win the stage. That day will last forever with us as a truly unbelievable athletic endeavor.

It was interesting printing the poster as the wood typeface we were using had only 2 Vs so we had to run the poster through the press 3 times to get Voeckler’s name the 5 times. He also took over the King of the Mountain Jersey that day which is a white background with red dots.

Studio projects Monday July 04 2016 12:10 pm

July 3 / Stage 2 / The 183k nailbiter

We love the rooting for a breakaway that might succeed and we love reliving our Tour de Lead Graffiti work from the past 5 years.

Today was a heart-breaking catch with 500 meters to the finish of a from-the-gun breakaway. Jasper Stuyven, the final rider left in the breakaway for 183km was almost within sight of the end when the peloton caught him (photos of the catch below). When we were doing the Tour de Lead Graffiti and had collaborators on days when there was a breakaway, we would always explain that it feels like the peloton had rubberbands connected to the breakaway. The peloton would let them get a big lead and then slowly reel them in right at the end.

So, digging back into our stack, we found two very relevant posters, one from Stage 11 in 2011 Tour (our first) and one from Stage 15 in 2014.

it is easy to pull out this first one that showed the rubberband-effect. We actually printed from wide rubberbands stretched between the words, You can see production photos below.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

We did a tissue paper drawing of the type placement and drove small nails with heads into a sheet of MDF on them to hold the rubberbands. We would just pack the MDF to bring it up to type high. We packed a number of sheets of tissue paper to raise the rubberbands a bit so that we could print them without printing the heads of the nails. Worked quite well and there is really a nice detail to the surface of the rubberbands.

The photo below shows Jill inking the second run with the rubberbands. Once we finished the first run with the aqua color you can see on the rubberbands, we simply moved the rubberbands to different nails to get a different overlapping texture and to fill that area of the poster in more. Quite fun and an interesting way to both illustrate the rubberband effect as well as adding printing from non-type elements which is always fun.

Another poster we did in 2014 illustrated another long breakaway with the catch of Jack Bauer within 100 meters of the finish line by Alexander Kristoff. I thought we were going to have a heart attack.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Sara Twist and Andy Flores worked on the Bauer poster with us.

Here are two photo of the catch.

The one below is with Stuyven having just passing under the 1k banner. He is that white dot at the top center of the road. You can see the peloton lined up behind him doing about 35 mph and closing.

The second is at the 500m marker. The end isn’t far now.

I would love to know what Stuyven’s legs felt like for about 3 seconds, which is probably about all I could stand.

As things turn out and one of the wonderful things about the Tour de France is you can switch the focus of your excitement back and forth between your favorite riders. There are dozen riders who excite us and another 2 dozen that you’ll jump on their side if they do something cool.

Peter Sagan, one of the most exciting cyclists today, won the stage, And as Cavendish won yesterday and was awarded the Yellow Jersey for his first time, Sagan won today and was awarded the Yellow Jersey for his first time. Stuyven was awarded “Most Combatative” rider of the day. Duh.

Notable negatives: Alberto Contador (previous tour winner) fell for the second straight day.

Studio projects Saturday July 02 2016 09:44 am

July 2 - Starting this year’s Tour as a spectator

July 2nd was the start of the 2016 Tour de France, which began without us doing our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters after a 5-year run.

The stage started at Mont Saint Michel, an iconic French site. Here is an image of them riding past it this year.

One of our favorite of our 115 TdLG posters was on Stage 11 of the 2013 tour when an individual time trial stage went past the iconic Mont Saint Michel. Jill did a wonderful wood type illustration of the scene.

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

Mark Cavendish won the stage which was great. Sprinters have a difficult time getting to wear the Yellow Jersey. The best opportunity is by winning the 1st stage, but for the past 2 years that stage has been won by Marcel Kittel. This year in an incredibly explosive final few meters, Cavendish won handily as you can see below.

It was Cavendish’s 27 stage win. One more and he is tied for 2nd place. He needs to get to 34 to tie with the Belgian, Eddie Merckx, with the most Tour de France stage wins ever. That is Marcel Kittel in 2nd place and Peter Sagan in 3rd.

We did the poster below when Cavendish won his 22nd stage with some large wood type and nice handrolling.

Stage 18 / Tour de Lead Graffiti 2012

Click on the image to see the original story of that poster.
From there can link to a larger image of the poster.

After the stage they were interviewing Cavendish and what I thought was the cutest thing happened. He had just picked up his young daughter and he asked her, “What do I win for you?” And as only as sweet as can come from a 3 or 4 year old she shyly announced, “Flowers.”

Then he had her standing with him on the podium when he was receiving the trophy (and flowers) for winning the stage. He handed her the flowers which she thrust upward in a victory salute for all the photographers to capture. Hmmm. The newest cutest thing.

Anthony Delaplace has the red bib of most aggressive rider after his long ride in the breakaway. He’s now considered as having compiled more than 2,000km in breakaways since he first rode the Tour in 2011. Yep, that is 2,000.

We plan on linking back to some of our favorite and relevant posters from our Tour de Lead Graffiti series on a regular basis during this year’s 21-stage Tour de France.

This year’s Tour runs from Saturday July 2nd to Sunday July 24th 2016. The 103th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,535 kilometres. There will be 9 flat stages, 1 hilly stage, 9 mountain stages including 4 summit finishes (Andorre Arcalis, Mont Ventoux, Finhaut-Emosson et Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc), 2 individual time trial stages, and 2 rest days.

I surely have slightly mixed feelings about not doing the daily posters, but we are working on a new “Moments Carved in Paper” book about the project. We’ve decided to do 4 of the “Moment” books (hopefully over the next year) about our favorite creative work we produced. We are dividing the body of work into 3 topics—work from Cypher + Nichols + Design, work connected to Visual Communications at the University of Delaware, and work related to Lead Graffiti. Because our work with Tour de Lead Graffiti is our favorite favorite project and because of the scale of the project we are going to pull it out as a single book.

Notable negatives: Alberto Contador fell hard on his right shoulder.

Studio projects Thursday June 23 2016 02:06 pm

“A Swarm of Bs” keepsake

For one reason or another we have a lot of students who pass through Lead Graffiti.

Perhaps they attend a workshop, field trip and tour with a class, or just hear about us and want to drop by.

One of the things I always say to them is that if they are interested in letterpress (or honestly just interested in design), they need to find real projects they can do for real people.

This is one we produced over the past two days.

Mark Samuels Lasner, a good friend and long-time patron of Lead Graffiti who extends back into our Raven Press at the University of Delaware days, had offered a trip (to see his magnificent collection of Victorian books he has on loan to the University of Delaware Library) in a benefit auction for the Center for Book Arts in New York City. Book artist, Liz, won the auction and invited her friend Lynne, a letterpress printer, to join her. As part of their trip Mark set up a tour of our Lead Graffiti studio. That evening Mark hosted dinner at a tasty Italian restaurant, Cafe Mezzanotte in Wilmington, where 10 of us enjoyed good company and conversation, mostly swarming around books in some way.

We thought it would be a treat to offer a keepsake for everyone attending, always looking for reasons to put ink on paper. Sized 5″ x 9″, the keepsake was produced in a flutter-book format (spreads are printed individually and glued  along the foredges) in alternating colors of French Paper. We produced it in an edition of 10 with the cover date to celebrate the moment, and another 8 copies without dates.
A Swarm of Bees / cover

Jill came up with a wonderful idea for the bookcloth spine. She has a paint roller with wide rubberbands stretched around it that she often uses when making pastepaper. This time she just squirted out some gold acrylic paint and rolled directly on the black bookcloth. The look worked perfectly with the combination gold / black inks and our bee theme as you can see below.

We though “swarm” was a nice reference to the dinner gathering where we would give out the books. The keepsake was also an excuse to find a lot of book-related words (and a couple of choice animals that connect with our hosts) all with “B”s in them.

The cover is raw bookboard.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 1

The type was a combination of 3 “very” similar faces: Jefferson Gothic, Phoenix, and Tourist.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 2

Lead Graffiti recently received a gift of type from the Hagley Museum & Library, which also included a complete set of dotted-line brass rule that we wanted to play with. So, we included a bit of a “speed line” to represent the movement of the Bs to the title page of the book.

A nice touch was centering the word “bonefolder” along the fold.
A Swarm of Bees / spread 3

At the end of dinner, Mark said he wanted everyone to sign his copy and so we passed around all of the books for everyone’s signature.

That turned out to be a nice touch to the whole memory as Mark’s collection is focused on association copies.
A Swarm of Bees / back cover

A nice reason to put ink on paper

Studio projects Tuesday June 14 2016 02:03 pm

Tour de France 2016

We’ve decided that doing 5 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti projects is a nice place to end.

POSTERS

  • 115 posters of stages & rest days.
  • 15 additional title, story, and colophon pages.
  • 5 composite prints.


TIME

  • Ray spent a total of 1799 hours 48 minutes of documented time on the stage & rest day posters.
  • Everyone else’s time is on top of that.


IMPRESSIONS & PRINTS

  • Total of 537 separate ink runs through the press and we are counting simultaneous, handrolled runs no matter how many colors or number of people working on it as 1.
  • Total number of prints was about 9,775.
  • Total impressions was about 45,645 for the stage & rest day posters.
  • If all paper was in one stack it would be about 8 feet 3 inches high.


COLLABORATORS

  • Overall we included a total of approximately 125 collaborators in the project.
  • 3 collaborators did all 5 years (Kieran Francke, Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Bill Roberts)
  • Kieran was the youngest collaborator when he was 10 during Tour de Lead Graffiti 2011
  • Longest distances to collaborate was from Indianapolis, Vermont and Dallas (twice)
  • Many started with no experience in letterpress and few with any interest in the Tour de France (both of those showed significant changes after the experience, several of which have actually attended the Tour in person).


TV & LUNCH

  • We, along with collaborators, watched approximately 420 hours of live Tour de France Coverage.
  • We ate lunch every stage & rest day at the Glass Kitchen in Glasgow, Delaware and approximately 90% had dessert. Lead Graffiti staff had dessert 100% of the time.


NOTABLE RELATED EVENTS

  • 4-month exhibition of stage posters at The British Library
  • 2-month exhibition at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum
  • 1-month exhibition at AIGA / Philadelphia
  • Article in Sports Illustrated’s “Year in Media” on TdLG’13
  • WHYY-TV story about Lead Graffiti and the Tour
  • WHYY-TV listed their story on us as best of 2014
  • Keynote address to the Society of Typographic Arts / Chicago
  • The book Adventures in Letterpress had a full page showing TdLG
  • Article in Bicycling Magazine by Ethan Wolff-Mann (collaborator)
  • Article in Printeresting / Tour de Lead Graffiti by Lauren Emeritz (collaborator)
  • Talks at Library of Congress, George Mason University, AIGA

Studio projects Sunday May 08 2016 08:06 am

Saul Bass, Masters of Design exhibition at SVA - October 1995

Today would have been Saul Bass’ 96th birthday.

It was the 1st of 2 Visual Communications fall semester field trips we took to New York City back in October of 1995. On these trips we would visit design studios or advertising agencies, exhibitions and talks, but this trip we wanted everyone to visit the Saul Bass exhibition at the School of Visual Arts. Saul Bass, a designer in the Art Directors Club of New York’s Hall of Fame, was the subject of a “Masters of Design” exhibition, part of a regular series SVA sponsored. Bass is particularly well known for his feature movie opening credits and posters. We had 2 buses full of students which we dropped off near the 23rd Street gallery site.

If you don’t know who Saul Bass is, you should. Take a moment and catch up a little.

When I got inside, “Nothing.” No exhibition at all. I stood at the door warning all of the students off. It turned out that Saul Bass hadn’t had time to gather the work for the exhibition and it was going to be postponed until some later date. All my life I’ve been the kind of person that loves a challenge, so not getting to seeing the show might just be turned into a real positive moment.

That idea came in the form of a blueprint poster I produced for the Visual Communications Group specifically targeted to Saul Bass. As we had gone to a fair amount of trouble and expense to take our students to see his exhibition, maybe we could get him to meet with us when he did come up to hang the exhibition. Maybe he could meet us when he was up or maybe he could even come down to UD. Seriously, how cool would that be.

Here is one of the most well-known of Bass’ posters for the movie “Exodus” which will show up in our poster / invitation below.

To produce posters back in the day we would design it on a Macintosh, utilize the University’s print shop to produce a large-format positive film image which would be contact-printed and run through a blueprint machine, like architects use to produce architectural blueprints. We just used a paper called blackline which gave us a black & white print.

The New York chapter of AIGA (American Institute of the Graphic Arts) had an exhibition each year of the best design and would receive hundreds of entries of great design. AIGA would give us all of their rejects which we would throw on the bus and bring back to drool over. Several rejects one year were a series of posters designed by Stephen Frykholm of Herman Miller which used blueprints. Seemed like a great way of being able to do fairly large posters with the students. We bought one of the machines and produced most of our posters promoting the program, field trips, speakers, etc, in that manner for at least 12 years.

Back to the Saul Bass poster. His logo can be seen in the center of the poster shown below. The hands were obviously taken from the Exodus poster above. I’ve always liked to find a way to get others involved in my design projects and including a photo of everyone in the program in the form of a fishing license was a great way to get all of the students and other faculty involved.

You can click on the poster to see it double-sized for some more detail. Here is the text to the poster.

“Eighty Visual Communications students at the Art Department in the University of Delaware had been assigned “The Age of Innocence” just to watch the credits (and the movie was incredible). On our first pilgrimage of the year to New York to visit ad agencies, design studios, exhibitions and sometimes even drift into the camp of the enemy (i.e. School of Visual Arts) we schedule to take in the Saul Bass “Masters of Design” exhibition.

What? No show?

So there we stood. Wondering what to do. Some went to the Village to watch Wood Allen filming his new movie. Some to Rizzoli’s to buy Pentagram’s new book. Some to the Society of Illustrators. Cooper Union. Parsons. AIGA. Shopping. Bar hopping. Scattered all over Manhattan.

But alas, no good Bass fishing to be found anywhere.

Now the question. We think you are going to do this show sometime and we really want to be there to see it. Is it reasonable to think that you will travel to New York to oversee the installation? And near the end of the installation when there isn’t much to do, what about letting 80 of us sit on the floor and listen to you talk about your work. Seems like a pretty good trade on our part and, we hope, on yours.

How about a call (302-831-1198) and for you to say “Yes” to the idea? You could say “no” and agree to just talk to us on the phone for half an hour. We would call and gather around our speaker phone to talk and listen about Scorsese. Anatomy. Exodus. Girl Scouts. Life as a design master.

We are hot to fish or cut bait.

Also, if we could pull this event off, this might just be the catch of the year.”

About 2 weeks later, while I was sitting quietly in my Recitation Annex office, Saul Bass called. He said he would be happy to meet with us and walk us through the exhibition for an entire morning, talking, answering questions, etc.

But Saul Bass died the following April, before he could find the time to mount the exhibition.

A side story: When my daughter, Terre, graduated high school and knowing she was headed toward a life in design, my graduation present was for her and I to attend the Aspen Design Conference. I flew out to Kansas where she was living and we drove over to Aspen. Of a week of amazing talks and events, one of the best moments for the two of us was meeting and talking with Saul Bass and his wife, Elaine, just the 4 of us, talking about a future in design.

Ah, the one that got away.

At Lead Graffiti, we are currently working on a series of autobiographical, fine press, limited edition books. The most recent one just finished in March was about the grading systems I developed at UD in my teaching. Upcoming there will be 3 more of these books each focusing on a half-dozen of my favorite design projects for each—1) related to VC, 2) related to Cypher + Nichols + Design, and 3) related to Lead Graffiti. This poster for Saul Bass is most definitely one of my VC favorites. It was run in an edition of 2. One for him and one for me.

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