Tour de Lead Graffiti 2013
S T A G E 1 5 :
Givors > Mont Ventoux / 242 km
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A trip to the moon
. . .
Start time today : 4:50 am
Completed : 6:32 pm
Time today : 13 hours 42 minutes
Time to date: 247 hours 28 minutes
Printing sequence : 2 runs - yellow and then yellow. The second run was required because we always slightly overlap the name of the team onto the winner's name. We added that callout after Froome's name, and we only had a few Ps in all of the sizes so we added additional 'pedal's to the two smaller point lines.
Runs to date : 70
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The day's story
A couple of outside issues came into play on this poster. Today we are working with Bill Roberts, a good friend and fellow printer with a letterpress shop named Bottle of Smoke Press. I (Ray) am exhausted and today kind of turned out to be the I-think-I hit-the-wall day. Last night we had finished up early enough to watch a documentary film about the young acclaimed New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. This chance viewing had a strong influence on how we visualized the next day's poster.
I've always liked Basquiat's work with his spontaniety, chaotic organization and a quality to his work that says "You don't get it now, but all the information you need is there." And our printer friend Bill is easy to get along with, willing to go with the flow, spread his ideas far and wide, and look for experiences to tuck under his own thinking cap. If I could have done today's poster in one run, I would have. So we sort of tried. We only used one color, although it did take two passes through the press to complete the image.
So, today's race stage was a visual trip to the moon. This was the longest stage of this year's tour and it ended on the epic Mont Ventoux, a 1600 meter climb that was 13 kilometers long. And it has the wierdest surface imaginable for the Alps—it's above the treeline. No green thing of any kind appears to be growing on the surface, especially trees, and we've really gotten used to seeing forrests and losing sight of the riders as the dense vegetation interferes with the line-of-sight signal broadcasting.
Just to set the scene, a couple of stages earlier, Chris Froome (leading the Tour at the moment) had looked unstoppable. Then on a flat stage that no one would have bet he could lose any time at all, he lost 1:30 to Alberto Contador, one of the best cyclists on the planet, a former winner of the TdF and seemingly Froome's biggest threat this year. Froome suddenly and unexpectedly looked vulnerable. His team looked lost, beat and winded.
Today's climb up Mont Ventoux, which is at the end of the stage, started fairly uneventfully. A strong pace set at the front by Froome's team was forcing people to drop off the back of the peloton at a fairly regular rate. Eventually the main group was whittled down to maybe 30 or 40 of the strongest riders and with 10 km to go, the group started unravelling at the seams. Eventually the Yellow Jersey group was down to four cyclists including Froome and Contador. Then Froome took off. And we mean took off—like a man possessed. He was gone and no one even seemed to have enough gas in their tank to even give a thought to trying to chase him down or hang onto his back wheel. Quickly passing everyone in front of him, Froome beat his nearest rivals by 1:40. Cycling fans will talk about this stage for the next few years.
This is the photograph of the top of Ventoux that inspired today's poster composition a la Basquiat. Now you get it, don't you?
At about 1,930 meters the air must be pretty thin, so we played a bit with the oxygen level in Froome's name, both to indicate that it was a race factor and to symbolize the oxygen deficit he had to confront and conquer. This little typographic wordplay also gave us a place to highlight that this is his second stage win and gave us a place to put that onward and upward finishing arrow.
We've liked using the typeface Thinline this year, so we added a callout in the second run to Bastille Day and Mont Ventoux (to maybe help someone figure out the poster when they don't have this explanation). The second run also included some extra "pedals" just because we were "out of sorts" (a little letterpress lingo) when it came to filling out the ends of the lines representing the road. Don't miss that little antenna on top that Jill worked up quite nicely out of our dingbat case.
Signatures: Ray Nichols, Jill Cypher, Tray Nichols, Bill Roberts
Size: 14.5" x 22.5"
Stock: Somerset Textured White 300 gsm
Main typography: Euro, Thinline & Impact
Production notes: handset wood & metal type. The stage / signature block / profile was preprinted using photopolymer plates.
Press: Vandercook Universal III
Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press working with Ray on the first lockup.
Ray working on the two smaller lines using curved leading to maintain the type baseline and mimic the upper curves in the road.
Bill, working with the two larger type lines, staggered his letters using straight and stacked leading. By using distinctly different sizes of type, we tried to give the sense of the road receding into the distance.
This is the final lockup for the first run. The press furniture, leading and spacing materials far outpace the bits of type for this one.
We don't promote drinking & printing, but we make a limited exception for Bastille Day. Bill has joined us for France's special revolutionary holiday for all three editions of Tour de Lead Graffiti. And this year he went the extra mile and presented us with a classy set of wine glasses with our logo etched into them. Ooh la la.
Tray came dressed for the poster. Inspiration can come from anywhere—just talk to Chris Froome.