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          Tour de Lead Graffiti 2015
P R E L I M I N A R Y  I N F O R M A T I O N :
           getting to the starting gate

the project | preliminary | clamshell | title page | descriptions | colophon | postcards | composite

Stage 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Rest | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Rest | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21

2011 edition | 2012 edition | 2013 edition | 2014 edition

2011 - 2015 posters grouped by topic

Major exhibitions

Hamilton Wood Type Museum held an exhibition of more than 40 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters covering all 4 years at their gallery, July - August, 2015. See photo below.

The British Library, who has a full set of our clamshell box editions, held an exhibition of 2 dozen of our stage posters + composites, title pages, and story description posters taken from our 2012 and 2013 work in their London, UK location from July through November 2014. A smaller exhibition of work from our 2011 posters were shown at the British Library's Boston Spa location. The 2014 Tour de France had its grand depart from Leeds, England with the first three stages ending in London. | blog post

AIGA / Philadelphia held an exhibition of 32 of our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters covering all 4 years at their SPACE Gallery, June 2015.

Middlebury, Vermont held its first annual Gran Fondo cycling event and helped promote the day with an month-long exhibition of our 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti posters.

Major media moments

The Sports Illustrated's "Year in Media" issue, December 2013, ran an article (see below) written by senior writer Alexander Wolff in its print and digital issues which went out to its 3,125,000 subscribers. The article was illustrated with our poster for Stage 5 of the 2013 Tour de Lead Graffiti. | blog post

WHYY-TV, the Philadelphia PBS station which includes "FIRST", a segment focused on Delaware, produced a 3-minute film on Lead Graffiti, highlighting our studio and our Tour de Lead Graffiti project, which was shown the first time on Friday, June 20, 2014. | blog post with video

WHYY-TV, in their "FIRST Top 10 of 2014," showed their video of Lead Graffiti as their lead story.

Main poster typography

Each year we pick two typefaces to incorporate as the main typography for the posters. We devote little thought to the way these typefaces work together in harmony. This creates visual continuity to connect the series of sometimes quite different posters. Secondly, it forces us to think of new ways to utilize the typography in that the typefaces aren't usually ones that snuggle together nicely. This year we are using Velo Bold, designed by House Industries, and Rubens, a typeface that was only produced as metal type as far as we know. These are the two typefaces for 2015.

Rubens has those wonderful spurs on some of the letters. We aren't sure if we will use them, but we also have the lowercase of the Rubens. Normally we only make the woodtype in uppercase letters. Additionally, we may utilize other wood or metal type from our collection for elements included in the main poster image.

We have also printed from a variety of other objects such as bicycle chains, rubberbands and bike parts. Occasionally, we've used type that has been cast on our Intertype C4 linecaster when it seems appropriate.

Paper and printing sequence

The posters are printed in an edition that starts with 45 sheets for each poster and 35 for the composite prints. In the end this should give us 26 clean posters for the clamshell box editions, a few sets that could be used for exhibitions, and a varying number of additional posters that can be sold individually or given away to people who catch our eye and are deemed worthy.

The paper we use is Somerset Textured White 300 gsm which has a deckle edge across the top and bottom of the poster. The original sheets are 22.5" x 30" which are trimmed to the 14.5" x 22.5" final size. The sheets have the Somerset watermark in the lower right corner. Just for the record, we buy our Somerset from Legion Paper in New York City.

Prior to the start of the Tour we print the signature block along with the day's date, stage number, stage starting and ending points, and the distance. These are printed with photopolymer plates made by Boxcar Press in Syracuse, NY. The signature block has 6 spaces, 3 for us and 3 for the maximum number of collaborators we allow. If there are fewer than 6 total those cells are left blank.

We try to mimic the Tour de France in a number of ways. Each day when we first get to the studio (immediately after lunch) the first item is signing in. Each of the day's particpants signs the poster. These signature blocks list the date, stage number or rest day, and the distance to be covered. These are printed from photopolymer plates. This is the only part of any of the stage or rest day posters that is not printed the old-fashioned way, from wood & metal type.

Display and framing

We've designed a framing system for hanging our posters in our studio which we think works quite well.

We like the 'paper' of the posters with its heavy textured surface. The frames are currently made from 0.5" x 2" x 24" oak strips. There is a 1/16th inch grove that has been routed from literally the top front to almost the back middle and back to the front bottom, stopping a bit short. The poster is inserted in the top, slides down until it contacts the end of the slot.

You then have the poster displayed with a gentle curve which provides a bit of a lighting change across the poster from top to bottom, hopefully helping highlight the impression made by the type into the paper.

In our studio, we have a long metal bar we typically tack up display items with magnets. We wanted to be able to keep the Tour posters up for the year without hogging all of the wall space. So, we built 24 of the frames to hold the 23 posters in the series plus the composite print. The set will hang for the next year as we always include discussion of the project when we are showing our work at letterpress and bookmaking workshops we offer during the year.

The daily write-up

In the past we've always set our start time as 6am. This year the clock starts when Ray sits down at the computer to start work. With social media and all there is more to do each day.

The following is the typical sequence.

Ray signs on to the Tour de France website where there is a constant flow of newsflashes of what is going on. This gives him the chance

We scan yesterday's poster (four scans for the whole image 300 dpi, full sized) and composite those over the scan of a blank paper sheet. We have 8 blank white sheet images that we cycle through. The blank sheets allows us to do our end-of-the-Tour postcards that we give to almost everyone, allowing us to put up pages of posters side-by-side and have the backgrounds all be the same tone as each other. Scanning the paper along with the type image just will not have the visual continuity we want between the posters.

We then save the high-resolution image. We make 5 copies, resizing to 170 pixels wide for thumbnail, 370 pixels wide as main image for website page, 512 pixels wide for the blog image, 800 pixels wide for the higher resolution image when you click on the image on the day's page, & Facebook. Sounds like a lot of work, but we have an action set up in Photoshop that does all of that, except for the high-resolution image, in one key press. Then those are saved to various places

Write up the technical data on the poster which includes the start / completed time, time today, time to date, printing runs / sequence, and runs to date. Total runs for the 23 posters over the three previous years has been between 102 and 108. This adds nice density to the composite print that contains all of the runs for the entire series.

Then write "The day's story." What happened, what made interesting moments for the poster. Then an attempt to try and connect what we saw on TV to the poster itself. Why did we make certain decisions. By follow along with the previous day's TDF newsflashes we can be accurate with elements like accurate times, rider's names and team affiliation.

Photography & video

We are trying to take some video in the studio every day to catch what happens and the people it is happening with. Likely we will not do anything with that until after the Tour is over. It is just too complicated and maybe in the end it will be better to have a 20 minute version that may actually be useful to someone, versus just 'Here, this happened." We'll see.

We shoot still photography all day. We try to shoot important or interesting lockups, shots with our collaborators in action, and Jill loves taking abstract shots of light streaming acoss a press or our clean-up sheets in the trash (some of these are quite beautiful). We always include some of these photos at the bottom of the explanation of each stage's description.

Pre-televised happenings

Ray starts following the Tour online as soon as he sits down at the computer. The Tour is staged each day based on an estimated time of arrival at the finish line. That way broadcast sources can plan their schedules. In the U.S. that ending time is always right around noon. So on a day where the cyclists aren't expected to finish for 6 hours, the actual start time was 6am here in Delaware. NBCSports starts their daily preview show from 8 - 8:30. Our collaborators come at 8:30 when the real live Tour starts. Ray is keeping up with the ongoing news in written entry form. That way he can see exactly who is in breakaways, crashes, etc. that happen before the televised version starts up. It is good for things like the breakways as they always post them along with the teams they belong to. It is nice to get all of that kind of information pasted into the text so if you need it you already have it.

Ray will work on the writing and posting right up to the arrival of any collaborators to just clean and spellcheck the text, maybe throw in an extra tweet or two. Jill will often come in during the morning and do at least a first run at editing, correcting the same grammar mistakes Ray makes every time, adding a bit of her spin, etc.

Then it is settle in and see what happens and start thinking about the dessert we are going to order at lunch.

Tour de France 2015 physical details

Information taken from Velo News.

As Utrecht, Netherlands gears up for the Tour de France’s Grand Départ on July 4, here are some facts and figures about the Grande Boucle, provided by race organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

4,500 people in total travel with the race every day, including organizers, teams, media, partners, the advertising caravan, and service providers.


198 riders at the start (22 teams of nine riders).
300 support staff.
15 members of the race jury.

2015 route

3,360km (21 stages).
Three countries visited (The Netherlands, Belgium, and France).
26 French departments visited.
37 stage sites.
624 municipalities crossed (568 in France, 17 in The Netherlands, 39 in Belgium).


100 ASO staff.
300 temporary staff.
1,550 beds reserved every day for the organization and the sports teams.

Medical services

10 doctors (all specialties), five nurses.
Seven ambulances, two medical cars, one motorcycle, one radiology truck.


48 members of the Republican Guard motorcycle division.
13 officers on duty as the permanent police of the Tour.
14,000 gendarmes/9,000 police officers and CRS riot police mobilized.
1,000 agents from the General Councils.

Accredited media (2014 edition)

2,000 journalists, consultants, and photographers.
637 media organizations.
373 newspapers, press agencies, and Internet sites.
92 television networks.
114 photo agencies.
58 radio stations.

Broadcast and media

Broadcast in 190 countries.
100 channels, including 60 live.
Eight stages broadcast in full.
80 hours of live broadcast produced (international signal).
6,100 hours aired worldwide in 2014.
32 million unique visitors/146 million pages viewed on in 2014.
Four languages: French, English, Spanish, German.
1,700,000 fans on Facebook.
1,300,000 followers on Twitter.
500,000 on Google +.
100,000 on Instagram.
1.1 million downloads of applications dedicated to the Tour de France.

Advertising caravan

154 vehicles.
34 brands.
600 people.
14 million objects handed out.
12km of procession.
35 minutes of show.
55 people to supervise the caravan, including 13 officers of the Republican Guard motorcycle division.

Spectators on the side of the road (2014 edition)

Approximately 12,000,000 spectators.
64 percent men and 36 percent of women.
54 percent under the age of 50, with 10 percent under the age of 25.
80 percent French spectators and 20 percent from abroad.
More than 40 nationalities identified.
92 percent come accompanied (on average five people per group).