Lead Graffiti, a letterpress studio in Newark, Delaware, is staffed by Ray Nichols, Jill Cypher, & Tray Nichols. With 35 years of university teaching, 65+ collective years of design work, and over a dozen years together in letterpress, we have some extraordinary experiences to share.

YOU ARE ON OUR CONTACT LIST BECAUSE we've connected with you on a project, workshop, email communication, swapped business cards, membership in American Printing History Association (APHA) or Delaware Bibliophiles, or you were linked in some way by Ray's teaching in the Visual Communications Group at the University of Delaware.

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All content, except the copyright of our images, is free for you to use as you like.

• High school & middle school teachers: As well as enhancing faculty professional development, Lead Graffiti workshops / tours can directly connect history into your subject, improve student creativity and handskills, and provide a hands-on sense of "I made this."

• College teachers of design, history, writing, and material culture: Our inclusive letterpress processes offer unusual opportunities to experience letterforms as shapes versus text, to physically connect with the history of printing, and to provide an excellent "words have weight" experience for students.

• Letterpress printers: We think you'll like the work, techniques related to producing that work, tips stemming from our often experimental printing styles, the organization of our studio space, and workshop descriptions.

Moments Book #3 completed

THE LEAD GRAFFITI AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SERIES, called "Moments Carved in Paper," continues with "#3: Grading as a Textbook" which presents the 3 unusual grading systems Ray utilized over his 35 teaching years. These included dots, shelves, and tennis tournament grading. The response from teachers and former students has been good.
Available from our website.



Book #1: The Librarian Made Us Do It chronicles how Ray & Jill were pulled into the world of 16th-century printing by the St. Bride Printing Library during the VCUK'02 study abroad trip to London.

Book #2: !eifleS relates the story of Ray's favorite moment with each of his parents. The desire to record these important memories in a reasonably permanent way was the catalyst behind the "Moments" series. As letterpress printers we want to utilize the letterpress process, but with so many options now for producing short-run hardback books, recording personal stories is something anyone reading this should consider. Teach your kinds how to do it.

Alphabetachaos prints & film

WE'VE STARTED A NEW Lead Graffiti series of limited edition prints called "Alphabetachaos" which focus on one of our metal or wood alphabets with a sizable dose of visual chaos woven into it.

Lead Graffiti gets lots of attention for our handrolling techniques, especially from students involved in letterpress. We've produced a 5-minute, time-lapse film with nice sound effects showing the process of locking up and inking the 3rd run of the alphabet element of the print.

The edition of 45 signed and numbered prints are available from our website.

Check out the production film
Alphabetachaos: the movie

Fall 2016 workshop schedule

OUR FALL 2016 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE for letterpress and bookmaking is on our website. That schedule is flexible. If you've got a group who would like a bookmaking or letterpress workshop, just ask. We can focus it and schedule it to fit your needs. It's a great way to jump-start a new level of creative thinking, build handskills and learn new techniques. Our studio offers free parking and handicap accessibility, and we are also kid friendly. With some of our workshops we are willing to do a slightly shorter workshop when it is difficult to get a group together. See our Fall Workshop Calendar or start a workshop conversation.

New creative letterpress workshop

OUR LATEST LETTERPRESS WORKSHOP makes use of H.N. Werkman's (1882 - 1945) unusual technique of pressing hand-inked type onto paper instead of the reverse. That doesn't sound like much of a change, but it is.

With no technical locking up of the type required, it works on any of our 5 main presses (2 Vandercooks, 2 iron handpresses, and a proofing press). Adults, and even kids as young as 7, love the process and get totally absorbed. It is often difficult to get the kids to quit making prints.

Offered as a 3-hour workshop, we show samples and explain the process for about 10 minutes and turn everyone loose for some colorful fun.

Below are a few examples from recent workshops.

OF SPECIAL INTEREST TO FACULTY AND DESIGN STUDENTS: As an early experience in a typography-related course, we think this workshop could be quite useful for

Teach typography? A suggestion for dropping the InDesign starting flag. BIG time.

WHILE RESTORING ONE OF our iron handpresses, we discovered it had been purchased back in the 1920s by Porter Garnet, director of Laboratory Press, the first educational fine press in the U.S. at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. To the right is a student project from 1927, HANDSET IN METAL TYPE!

Ray was never a fan of the notion that design should be invisible. He thinks students, as designers, should leave footprints showing they were there and were thinking while they were there. When Ray taught, he constantly reminded students that "default" was an enemy. Whatever typeface InDesign wants you to use, don't use it! Never leave leading set to "auto." Type that's black or a page that is white "might" be lazy. Fight to be the "creator" and in complete creative control of your design universe.


And done in handset, metal type. We have no clue how long it took to compose.

PROJECT IDEA: Pick half a dozen lengthy quotes about creativity or typography or design. Then show this project (email ray@leadgraffiti.com to request a high-resolution image).

A few typographic experiences that can all be accomplished at the same time:

WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING for opportunities to exhibit or talk about our letterpress work.

HAVE YOU GOT SKILLS you could offer in trade for access to letterpress or something printed via letterpress? Email us.

Share it forward

PLEASE FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER with colleagues, friends or students who might be interested in letterpress or bookmaking. Also, any thoughts or comments you may have regarding this or future newsletters are encouraged. Maybe its good enough that we could trade a poster for it.

CONSIDER A CREATIVE RETREAT for your group with one of our workshops.

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