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about the people


Jill Cypher

Jill holds an MFA degree in Advertising Design from Louisiana Tech University. She was the graphic designer for the University of Delaware Publications Office from 1978 to 1984.

Jill, with her husband-partner Ray Nichols, opened Cypher + Nichols + Design, their own advertising and graphic design business, which operated from 1984 through 1999. Some C+N+D clients included Esquire Magazine, Winterthur Museum, Hagley Museum & Library, Direct Radiography, Alanx Products, Omega Medical Center, and Delaware Manufacturing Alliance among others. The firm’s work received numerous awards from the Advertising Club of Delaware, Print, Graphis, CASE, and the University and College Designers Association.

Jill served as president of the Advertising Club of Delaware as well as several terms on its Board of Directors. She was a cofounder of Raven Press at the University of Delaware with interests in letterpress printing, paste paper designs and bookmaking. She is currently president of Lead Graffiti (formerly Wallflowers Press), a letterpress studio producing creative typography cards, posters, and other items.

Several recent projects, most notably a series of posters promoting the Kalmar Nyckel, Delaware's tall ship, are utilizing Jill's illustration expertise using woodcuts as the medium.

A favorite annual project is the 8th grade diplomas for the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. The students come to Lead Graffiti, print the text for their diploma, handset in metal type and print their names on the diplomas, and produce several sheets of paste paper. Lead Graffiti assembles a folder modeled on the Nobel Prize Certificates which holds the diploma, along with an original piece of artwork by the student.

Jill loves making paste paper.


          American Printing History Association
          Fine Press Book Association
          .918 Club

Ray Nichols

Ray holds an MFA degree in Advertising Design from Louisiana Tech University. He was coordinator of Visual Communications at the University of Delaware from 1978 to 2005 (retiring in 2006), where he helped lead the program to an international reputation. His own design work has been honored in juried exhibitions by the Art Directors Club of New York, The One Club for Art & Copy, University and College Designers Association, along with inclusion in annuals by major design organizations such as Print Magazine and Graphis Posters. His graduates are regularly included in design and advertising competitions including the One Club for Art and Copy, D&AD (London), Art Directors Club of New York, Communication Arts, and Graphis.

Ray, with his wife-partner Jill Cypher, operated their advertising and graphic design business, Cypher + Nichols + Design, from 1984 through 1999.

As a co-director of Visual Communications / UK while directing study abroad trips to London, Ray fell in love with letterpress printing. He, along with Jill, was the co-founder of a letterpress studio called Raven Press at the University of Delaware.

Ray was also a professor in the Center for Material Culture Studies, where he designed and maintained their website and won awards for the recruiting and publishing materials he helped produce. Through CMCS he has overseen the production of two books on the history of the New London Road community (an African American Community in Newark, Delaware), including a cookbook. Ray is a past president of the Advertising Club of Delaware.

In 2008 The Art Directors Club of New York announced an annual award for instructors in the fields of advertising design, graphic design, interactive design, photography, and illustration. Ray was included as one of five in the inaugural exhibition held in October 2008 at the ADCNY gallery in New York City. The ADCNY describes the ADC Grandmasters as educators whose careers in creative education have impacted and mentored generations of student creatives and whose legacy is a far-reaching network of industry leaders and professionals in Advertising and Design.

A major endurance letterpress project they call Tour de Lead Graffiti which is in its fourth year. Following the Tour de France they produce a series of 23 posters produced one each day, paralleling the events of each stage of the Tour de France. Major libraries maintaining sets of the series includes, The British Library, University of Delaware, Library of Congress, Baylor University and UCLA.

Book related projects include Thunder Road, working with the writing of British author Bruce Hornsby and Bruce Springsteen, The Multifaceted Mr. Morris with the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, and Boxcar Poems 1 - 12 by author John Dorsey.


          American Printing History Association
                    President of the Chesapeake Chapter through 2012
          Fine Press Book Association
          .918 Club / Lancaster, PA

Tray Nichols

Tray Nichols

Tray has worked as an art director and retoucher at The Cox Group and Deutsch in New York City and in Denver. He has worked advertising campaigns for Coors, Tommy Hilfiger, Courvoisier, Snapple, AT&T, and Ducati.

After Lead Graffiti got started he was persuaded to come back east and work with letterpress. Tray works a lot with our Heidelberg Windmill and Intertype C4, These are complicated pieces of equipment and require a great deal of mechanical sense which Tray brings to the studio. Tray is an active participant in most of our design projects and works a lot with computer files and retouching necessary for producing high quality photopolymer and copperplates. He is also an active participant in our workshops, especially those involving design students from area art schools and universities. He loves demonstrating the Intertype C4 and having workshop participants typecast their names for the workshop's project colophon.

As a sideline Tray is heavily involved with a Star Wars costuming group, where where he is known as TK-4251, a Stormtrooper. A few times he has joined in the work at Lead Graffiti in costume.

Bill Roberts

Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press

Lead Graffiti has often joined creative and printing forces with Bill Roberts, owner of Bottle of Smoke Press in Wallkill, New York. We've collaborated on a variety of printing and bookbinding projects such as the design and printing of the cover for A.D. Winans' Drowning Like Li Po in a River of Red Wine, portfolio of wood cuts by Marvin Malone, and other letterpress projects related to the work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Allen Ginsberg. You can find Bill at Lead Graffiti on his lazy days using our equipmwn to offer some extra twist to his work.

Bill started Bottle of Smoke Press in 2002 with the goal of publishing poetry that he felt was important and under appreciated. He took a special interest in publishing poets whose work had not been extensively published. In 2005 he bought his first press, a Kelsey 5x8, began printing letterpress. After moving to Dover, Delaware, he bought a Chandler & Price New Style 8x12 made in 1914 and began publishing limited edition letterpress books. Since his start, he has not only published many amazing young poets, but has also published or printed work of Charles Bukowski, Leonard Cohen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan, Dan Fante, Michael Madsen, Lee Ranaldo, d.a. levy, & Amber Tamblyn, to name a few.

In 2008, BoSP published their first full length book of short stories with Soheyl Dahi’s Stories from a Room. 2011 saw our first novel with the release of David Barker’s Death at the Flea Circus, available in paperback and hardcover as well as a several other major releases. In October 2011, Bill completed a Kickstarter project, 9-in-Nine, producing nine small books, including the printing and binding, over a nine day period.

Bill recently purchased a Vandercook SP15 from Bird & Bull Press and recently moved to Walkill in the New Paltz area of New York.

Mike Kaylor

Mike Kaylor has been Lead Graffiti's most important mentor since our introduction to printing via letterpress in 2002. He has participated in many workshops with us, sharing his printing and bookmaking experience, along with this truck and trailer as the Lead Graffiti collection of type and equipment has grown. Lead Graffiti includes some of Mike's equipment and a large number of job cases of metal type Mike has gathered over the last 30 years.

Mike started setting type at the age of 12. He began the Literary House Press at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, almost 25years ago when he introduced letterpress printing and book arts to compliment the school's Literary House and widely known undergraduate writing program. Over those years hundreds of students have been introduced to the "power of the press," many of whom have gone on to start their own presses and book binderies. Through his work at Washington College Mike has produced over 950 broadsides and has worked with Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer prize winners and many of the most important living writers and poets.

Mike has studied and worked with Heidi Kyle, Daniel Kelm, Gary Frost, Julie Chen, Dale Doroshaw, Michael Burke, Shanno Lieno, Laura Wood, Terry Chouinard and many other fine printers and book artists.

He was a founding member and was long time president of the Chesapeake Chapter of the American Printing History Association. His letterpress work appears in many institutions and private collections and fills the Lit House at Washington College.

Mike also teaches literature and history at the Gunston School.