Tour de Lead Graffiti

The following is a guest post by Lauren Emeritz.

140726-tdlg14-stage-20-Printing2Lead Graffiti is a letterpress shop in Newark, Delaware run by Ray Nichols and Jill Cypher. For the past 4 years they have conducted a letterpress project called “Tour de Lead Graffiti,” in which they watch each stage of the Tour de France and then print a poster based on the day’s event. The project is often referred to as “Endurance Letterpress” and eloquently reflects the persevering of the cyclists in the Tour de France while creating almost a diary of “insider” stories. It’s a little strange, but also very cool. The posters are in several collections, including a show at the British Library this past month.

I took part in this project as a collaborator on July 26, 2014. I woke-up at 6:15am, made coffee and drove two hours from Washington, DC to Newark, DE. Together, we watch the Tour de France, Stage 20 – Individual Time Trials, and talk about the Tour, cycling overall, and today’s story lines. What is important. What is interesting.

In the time trials, unlike the other days, it is just each cyclist, the course, and the clock. Tony Martin, the current world-record holder for time trials, won by wide margin, passing five people along the way. This was especially impressive since the start times are staggered two minutes apart. Also, in the story line were the two French cyclists battling for the 2nd and 3rd places.

In our print, we set copperplate type arrows, which they had made specially for this year’s Tour, in a circle to represent tick-marks on a clock or the cyclists on a course, with the Italian and two Frenchmen in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, after Martin, the stage winner, of course. It was a fascinating experience for me, but I constantly felt out of sorts, breaking away from a traditional lock-up.

Today, with my head and body aching from yesterday’s effort, I can’t believe Ray & Jill do this everyday for 23 consecutive days. Now for the 4th year. “Endurance Letterpress” indeed.

Find out more about the project here:







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