Ray and Jill enjoying the Newark, DE, Hallloween Parade., October, 2018.

Ray and Jill enjoying the Newark, DE, Hallloween Parade., October, 2018.


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 loves making books through Lead Graffiti, both filled and blank. This one is called Abecedaritype, and is essentially an ABC book of typographic terms illustrated with type and other images that she found amongst our collection.

Jill served as president of the Advertising Club of Delaware as well as several terms on its Board of Directors. She was a co-founder 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, books, cards, posters, and other items.


⬆ Jill also loves making paste paper and this is one of her favorites. She calls it “boxes.” We used a version of the paste paper on our book, Boxcar Poems 1 - 12, shown below.


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.


⬆ This is one of Ray’s most recent books printed in an edition of 40 and in collaboration with Martha Carothers, a former teaching colleague. Each of the 10 interior spreads, has a different “ink pull” as the background and the text is arranged to interact uniquely with each page

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 a co-founder of a letterpress studio called Raven Press at the University of Delaware.


⬆ Ray likes applying letterpress to his everyday interests. This Indivisible postcard, using accented characters to represent foreign languages, is one mailed from Lead Graffiti every 3 weeks to each U.S. Senator during all of 2018. This card was a reaction to the administration’s questionable treatment of the Central American caravan seeking asylum.

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.

Ray was one of five inaugural recipients of the Grandmasters Award from the Art Directors Club of New York for top educators in the fields of advertising design, graphic design, interactive design, photography, and illustration.


⬆ Ray loves to find ways to collaborate to spread the experience of letterpress, especially to a younger audience. This shows the 8th-grade diplomas produced by Lead Graffiti for the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. We bring our paste paper workshop to the school where the students can make the covering for their own diploma (lower left).